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Mach 1 (the mockingbird released a few days ago) wanted to spend the night on the lanai two days ago and I let it. The next day it left on its own but continued to hang around. I thought it might be best to remove the other birds from the lanai and see if it would begin to venture out on its own. To do that, I had to put the other birds in cages and move them to the front of the house. Mach 1 stopped hanging around the back of the lanai and started exploring the yard.

The other day, when Blue Too (now Topaz) was taking a bath, I noticed missing wing feathers. We took pictures and sent them to the Ark and they told us it could not be released until they grew back and that would take a while. So, I splurged and got it a nice cockatiel cage. It’s very hard to buy things immediately right now, so I am grateful that one of the Petco’s in the area had one reasonably priced large cage I was able to purchase immediately.

Topaz has missing feathers in its wing. It was likely this way when it arrived at the Ark but we didn’t notice until recently. It is not surprising because many birds that arrive in rehab have been captured by cats or other animals.

Later in the day, Mach 2 starting beating itself against the bars of its cage and broke some feathers. I couldn’t let it keep doing that so I eventually succumbed and let it go back to the lanai. It settled happily. Toward evening, Mach 1 returned to the back of the lanai and started cheeping and Mach 2 cheeped back. Mach 1 started flying back and forth by the screen and Mach 2 ran all over the lanai. I was mean and did not let Mach 1 come back in the lanai and they cheeped until dark.

I hardly slept. It broke my heart. I contacted the Ark the next morning and suggested releasing Mach 2. I was pretty sure I could recapture it if it didn’t turn out to be a good idea. After much back and forth and discussion, we agreed to do it. Following is a video of the reuniting of the two birds. In the beginning, Mach 1 is in the crepe myrtle and Mach 2 is under the bird bath.

Mach 1 and Mach 2 reuniting after being separated for almost 24 hours.

I monitored throughout the day and the birds rarely separated. Whenever I came out, Mach 1 was quick to show up begging for food. I gave them a bowl of mealworms periodically and made them eat by themselves. In addition, I left the screen door open for Dart. I usually do that so he can go in and out. I also like that he keeps predators from the yard and doesn’t bother the birds and they don’t mind him.

In the afternoon, I found Mach 1 and Mach 2 taking naps on the lanai. I put water and food out for them. Regis told me Mach 2 took a bath and then they both left. It is around 6 as I am writing this and they are still out and about. I suspect they will return to the lanai for the night and that’s ok with me. Mach 2 is still young and I would like to make sure it transitions nicely. I couldn’t possibly separate these two, so Mach 1 can stay too.

I noticed another mockingbird hanging around the yard with interest in Mach 1. It seems as large as an adult but I don’t believe it is an adult. I released another mockingbird that was older almost a week before releasing Mach 1. I wonder if it could be that bird. It lived with Mach 1 and Mach 2 for a while, so who knows?

Other mockingbird hanging around with an interest in Mach 1.

There are numerous baby birds visiting the feeders and bird bath with their parents. The chickadee family is particularly cute.

Baby chickadee.

I changed Blue Too’s name to Topaz. I do not know whether it is a male or female and it will need to stay for a while, so I needed a more thoughtful name that was not gender specific. The bird reminds me of a gem, so I named it Topaz.

We are planning to leave on our cross country trip at the end of the month. We haven’t mentioned it because we have been unsure as to whether we can go. I have been monitoring campgrounds to see their availability. Many open campgrounds are set up to eliminate human contact. We are self contained, so we could make it all the way to Washington State with only needing gas stations, groceries, and campgrounds. Any change between now and the end of the month could cause us to call it off, but we are now getting ready to go. Which means that Topaz needs a place to stay after we leave. One of my wonderful friends, who also volunteers at the Ark, will take Topaz for me. If Topaz is releasable while I am gone, it will be released. If not, I will take the bird back when I return. After I released the mockingbird and Topaz was alone in its cage in the front room, it was very quiet and stopped eating by itself. I was concerned it needed company, so I brought it out to be where all the activity is. It perked up immediately and has been practicing eating peanuts (and mostly dropping them) and exploring its cage. Before I brought it to the center of things, it just sat quietly on its perch.

Topaz’s new home.
Mach 1 eating mealworms.
Mach 2 eating mealworms.
Mach 1 likes to look tough (when I am not around so it can beg for food) so requested this be its official portrait.

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Mach 1 and Mach 2, my two rescue birds.

Yesterday, I had to leave the house while it was still dark, so I left the birds in Regis’ care. I was scheduled to count roseate spoonbills at the Alligator Farm. When I went to my car, I found a baby mockingbird stuck between the blinds and the window in the garage. It was the young mockingbird that was released yesterday and then chased by the resident adult mockingbird. Excellent. I was able to capture the bird to release in another location. I put it in a cage on the lanai and left to count spoonies.

When I returned home, Regis said he tried to release Mach 1 but it wouldn’t go. I took Mach 1 out to the feeders and made it go and then took the recaptured mockingbird to a friends house to release. I think that will be a good location for the little bird. My friend has some preserve behind her house and it immediately flew into it. I left her with mealworms and other food to leave out for it.

In the afternoon, one of the neighbors a house away came to talk to Regis and me about a strange acting bird in her yard. She said she had a small gray bird hanging around and opening its mouth to them. She wanted to know whether something was wrong with it. I was greatly relieved to know that the second mockingbird released by the Ark was in good hands at the neighbors house. I gave her mealworms, raisins, and other food to leave out for the bird. They were smitten with the little bird and it entertained them all afternoon and evening.

Back at my house, Mach 1 continued to hang around and beg me for food every time I came in the backyard. I would hold a bowl of mealworms in my hand and make it come eat them by itself. I continued to leave the lanai door open for Dart and came back to find Mach 1 visiting Mach 2. See picture at the top of this post.

Mach 1 left the lanai on its own. I saw it going to the feeder and it chased a dove in the yard. Its starting to act like a typical mockingbird. When I’m not around, I can see it exploring the backyard and getting bolder and braver over time. But, when it sees me, it acts like a baby that can’t feed itself.

I left Dart to bird sit in the backyard all afternoon and keep any predators away. He did a fine job and eventually came in as the evening progressed and it got dark outside. I still left the lanai door open wondering what Mach 1 was going to do and whether I should shut the door. Mach 1 and Blue Too (the blue jay) seemed to be settled for the night. Suddenly, Mach 2 went to the screen and started chipping. Mach 1 started chipping back. Then, Mach 1 came and started flying back and forth along the screen of the lanai until it managed to find the door and enter the lanai. Mach 1 and Mach 2 went to a perch, snuggled together, and fell asleep. What do we make of that?

Mach 2 still has baby feathers, so it can’t fly well enough to release. It eats very well. I have no concerns about this one when it gets released. It is too soon. I’m wondering if I will have to let Mach 1 continue to visit until Mach 2 joins it in the outside world.

Blue Too is getting better at eating by himself. I leave raisins in a bowl of water to plump up and feed them to the birds. Mach 2 likes to drink the water out of the bowl. This morning I saw Blue Too eating the raisins out of the bowl. I got a little video of it deciding to take a bath in the tiny bowl of water.

Blue Too, our rescue blue jay, taking a bath in a bowl of raisins being plumped up with water.

Today I left the lanai door open most of the day and Mach 1 comes and goes as it pleases. It usually eats mealworms from the bowl I leave out for the other birds and then sits with Mach 2 for awhile until it decides to go back outside.

When Mach 1 isn’t visiting, Blue Too will sit with Mach 2. Today, I saw it pulling at Mach 2’s feathers. I have noticed two feathers askew on Mach 2 over the last week and was wondering what was up with that. I now know. I think I would keep the blue jays separate from other birds if I ever agree to do this again in the future. I love this blue jay but would prefer it not wreck Mach 2’s feathers.

I sat out back briefly to check out what’s coming to the feeders and saw a pine warbler with a bum leg. It couldn’t use the leg but it appeared to be managing at the feeder.

Pine warbler with a bad leg.

I have peanuts out but the birds are going to the Bark Butter Bugs and Bits rather than the peanuts. Regis and I used to own a Wild Birds Unlimited in Maryland and we think Bark Butter is pretty cool stuff because the birds do too.

Carolina wren with a Bark Butter bit.
Carolina chickadee with a Bark Butter bit.

Since I am raising these birds under the license of the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, I wanted to share a cool video put together by one of their volunteers about one of their rescue pelicans, Stitch. It’s worth a watch.

St. Johns Veterinary Hospital in St. Augustine takes in injured wildlife, even snakes, any time of the day. They do what can be done for the animal and then release it to the appropriate wildlife rehab facility. The Ark pays the vet (reduced fees). I’m mentioning this because any of you who want to know how this works and wants to help might be interested to know that the money you donate to the Ark goes exclusively for the animals and their care.

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Came out to the lanai to feed my remaining two birds and found three.

What a day. I released the oldest mockingbird, Mach 1, this morning. Every time I went outside, it either came to me or let me come to it to hand over a bowl of mealworms. Early in the morning, Mach 1 was scavenging below the bird feeder when a raccoon showed up. Mach 1 did not appear to notice the raccoon eyeing it, but Dart noticed the raccoon and chased it away and saved Mach 1’s little life.

The Ark released three bluebirds today from my yard. The following video shows two of them being released.

Two of the bluebirds being released by the Ark.

The Ark left me with two mockingbirds ready for release but they were a little concerned about whether they were adequately eating on their own. After Mary left, I fed the mockingbirds dried and live mealworms and they ate them. So, I gave them an opportunity to leave and join Mach 1. They took advantage of the opportunity. As soon as the oldest mockingbird left, the adult mockingbird in the yard chased it. That mockingbird never bothered Mach 1. Was it an age issue? a gender issue? a territorial issue? Mach 1 has been on the lanai cheeping for a couple weeks while the adult mockingbird sang out back. Didi it recognize Mach 1?

I left the cage in the yard in case any of the released birds wanted a safe place. Then, I would release them elsewhere. I figured if any released mockingbird was uncomfortable they might return to the cage. After dinner, I found Mach 1 in the cage. Little rascal. I gave it access to food outside the cage but left the door to the lanai open so Dart could go in and out. I figured my remaining two birds wouldn’t leave and if they did, they must be ready.

I came back on the lanai this evening and there were three birds. Mach 1 returned. It then left but came back again. This is quite the soft release. If Mach 1 wants to remain with us for the night, it is welcome to do so. I’m sure it will eventually want to do what mockingbirds do.

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We did not see the recently released blue jay or mockingbird today. I’m bummed to not see them but it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their thing somewhere.

I spent a little time reading on the lanai with the remaining birds and they came to me whenever hungry. The oldest mockingbird landed on my arm and I placed a variety of food on my arm. It pecked at it and flipped it around but never swallowed anything. It left me a couple presents. I later found it eating seed on the floor. It prefers that I feed it but will eat by itself.

The other blue jay and mockingbird camped out at my feet waiting for handouts. When I wasn’t dishing them out, they fell asleep at my feet. It was an amazing experience.

We have an adult mockingbird in the back singing almost all day long. Both of my mockingbirds started making interesting sounds today. They weren’t the regular cheeps but it was like they were getting started on their mockingbird sounds. It moved me to hear them do that.

When I feed the birds and speak nicely to them, Dart shows up. He seems a little concerned when I coo to something else. He is a good sport but I make sure to remind him that he is and will always be my favorite. He does very well with the birds. They are used to him and I hope that isn’t a detriment to their future.

Later in the day, instead of reading while not feeding birds, I worked on my photoshop skills and came up with the picture above.

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Baby blue jay recently released.

I released the oldest mockingbird yesterday. The bird is very shy and wary. That is probably a good thing. After releasing her, we saw her a few times. When I fed the remaining birds on the lanai, they make a tweeting racket and we could hear the mockingbird outside the lanai. When we opened the door, she would fly away. She has been hanging out in the bushes and I placed a bowl of water on the ground for her with some raisins in it. She loves raisins. We saw her again this morning, so she made it through the night.

I dropped the grackle off at the Ark for release. They have not been able to release it yet and told me today it has been washing blueberries like a raccoon and washing mealworms. I wish I had seen that behavior. This little grackle is easy to love.

I released the blue jay at the feeder but it immediately went to the roof of the house. Later, I went out back and saw it on the fence. I walked up to it and it jumped onto my finger. I gave it a tour of the yard pointing out the varieties of food available at the feeder and the birdbath. It ate a dried mealworm at the feeder and took some long drinks at the bird bath and then took a short bath. I left it there which is the same area the mockingbird has been hanging out. The blue jay allowed me to feed it a couple times during the day but the mockingbird wouldn’t let me come near her.

In the afternoon, I was able to introduce the blue jay to the neighbor. He allowed me to bring him over to her to see and then I took him to the feeder and fed him a mealworm. When I went out back after dinner, the neighbor called to me to say she thought my bird was on the roof of her lanai and it was calling. I went over to verify that it was in fact, “Blue”.

This morning I took Dart out front for a short walk and heard a bird calling from the top of the pine tree across the street. It sort of sounded like a blue jay, but not exactly. I got Regis to come out with the binoculars and we were able to confirm it was a blue jay in the top of the pine tree. At that point, it swooped down and did a fly by over our heads. It was “Blue”. I haven’t seen it since but I was glad to see it made it through the night.

The remaining three birds get the run of our lanai. They can see into the house through the sliding glass doors and whenever they are hungry, they make a racket screaming at us and sometimes flying into the doors. You would think they were starving to death. We have to avoid that room within 45 minutes of feeding time if we don’t want to deal with the drama.

Baby birds ready to be fed.
Baby blue jay recently released.

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Baby mockingbird.

The six baby birds I have continue to thrive. (I am raising these baby birds under the direction of the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in St. Augustine, Florida.) I send video and pictures to the experts at the Ark and they guide me on the proper care for these birds and let me know when to release them. Based on their feedback, I will be able to release the oldest mockingbird tomorrow morning. I have the appropriate habitat and situation to release the bird in the backyard. I will be returning the grackle to the Ark and they will be releasing it in an appropriate location in the area. The Ark discussed the possibility of releasing it at one of the local colleges but said the bird might prefer McDonalds where there may be an abundance of French fries. As the birds adopted parents, we have decided to send the grackle to college.

Young grackle. This grackle takes good care of its feathers. It likes to bathe and groom.

I think the blue jay is very close to release. It is bathing and drinking and flies beautifully. Unfortunately, I have not seen it eat by itself. The oldest mockingbird is eating, drinking, and bathing and prefers me not to be near it most of the time but will accept a raisin or mealworm when I’m offering. The grackle will eat, drink, and bathe by itself but much prefers to have its food handed to it.

Oldest blue jay in the group of six baby birds I still have. I think this bird will be ready to release soon.

I’m going to miss the ones who will be leaving me tomorrow. The grackle and youngest mockingbird came with my first group of birds to raise, so I am especially going to miss the grackle. I suspect by the time the youngest mockingbird leaves, I will be in tears.

Youngest mockingbird in the group.

I find this difficult to do because you don’t know whether they have all the skills they need to survive when they are released. You have to hope you did right by them. I guess its a little like raising kids.

A gathering at the water hole – a pie plate filled with water.
Baby mockingbird.
Baby mockingbird flashing its wings like the adults do. All three baby mockingbirds practice this behavior a lot.

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Life is now completely controlled by our wild bird babies. They wake up between 7-7:30 and we put them to bed at 7-7:30 at night. In between, it is all about them. I could not do this forever, but I can work through these six birds until they are ready to be on their own. I’m currently hoping to release them together but we’ll have to see how that goes. The youngest and oldest birds are likely at least two weeks apart.

I’ve been letting them stretch their wings on the lanai and enjoying them discover life and listen to the bird sounds in the yard. The older blue jay is particularly interested in what it hears, especially the crow. The youngest mockingbird continues to be the craziest bird we have. I was watching him this afternoon and he would fall asleep, cheap, and wake himself up. He can’t stop cheeping. I’m wondering if the other five birds are going to do him in because he won’t shut up. He always wants food, but if he’s full, he spits it out when you give it to him. I can’t help but think he was kicked out of the nest for a reason. But, I am convinced he will liver a long time because he is ornery and will survive.

In the following video, the oldest blue jay is taking its first bath. And, the little crazy mockingbird makes its appearance.

There are many bird sounds in the yard that indicate there are young birds out there. The picture below shows a parent with its young in our crepe myrtle. I think its a finch but I am not entirely sure.

We saw a momma deer out back the other night. She had a bulging side which led us to believe she might be giving birth soon.