A tale from Tammy, one of our founding directors.
People ask quite often how Mickaboo began, and Mickaboo volunteers, old and new, are excited about celebrating our "anniversary." This year, we decided to celebrate a milestone in 2008 that stands as a happy reminder of what our organization represents.
Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue has been rescuing birds for twelve years. As most of our supporters know, we exist for the purpose of giving these intelligent, loving, and amazing creatures a second chance at life when so many of them have such a rough beginning. "Liddle" was one of those with the roughest of rough beginnings. He is turning ten years old this year and we can't let it pass without a huge celebration of his remarkable life.
Mickaboo was a very small operation in 1998, and most of the work was done by only two people, myself and another former director. One afternoon, we got a frantic call from a woman who had a baby bird that needed help. Her pair of breeding cockatiels had been throwing their hatchling babies from the nest. Only one little pink, wiggly baby had somehow made it to the ground alive after being tossed out by his mother. He was barely moving and, to make matters worse, before she tossed him out, she had chewed off a few of his toes.
The woman gave us an address and we immediately dashed over to her tenderloin hotel room to get him. When we got there, the woman scooped him out of her bra and handed him over. She had been giving this brand new baby bird cow's milk with an eye dropper. Considering the temperature conditions needed for a baby bird and the lack of proper food and hydration, it was a miracle that he was still alive. We placed him into a warm kleenex box and rushed him to our vet.
It was the first case for this vet who has now become like family to Mickaboo. She weighed him in at 2 grams and gave us a very poor prognosis. The other doctor at the practice didn't expect him to survive and recommended euthanasia. She said that even if we were able to save him, he would be seriously deformed and handicapped. But, when we looked at that tiny, sweet little pink bundle of energy, we just knew that we had to do whatever it took to give him a fighting chance. Since he was not in any discomfort and was obviously a fighter, the vet was willing to help us give him that chance.
That night, we took him home and shared the feedings and care. He started out at .05cc (one drop) every 1/2 hour. It was a long road and the handfeedings seem to go on forever. As he grew and was able to handle it, we increased his feedings, but he was on "24 hour-watch." And, he came down with one bacterial and/or fungal infection after another, due in part to the stress of his rough start, and we knew he would never reach a normal size. But, he was surviving and he was happy.
Every time he was due for a feeding, I would slowly remove his home-made incubator lid, fearing the worst; but he would always surprise me with a little hiss and wiggle. He very quickly became accustomed to the familiar syringe and began sitting up and begging when he would hear me approach. Of course, I was committed to "just fostering" him, until, one day, he began the habit of making an adorable 'purring' sound when he saw me approach. That was that! He was my baby. I decided I couldn't live without him and adopted him.
I decided to name him "Liddle"---not so much as a comment on his physical size, but more as a joke. Even at half the size of a "normal" cockatiel that age, he was anything but small. He was sweet, spirited, and feisty.
Each day was a new surprise and I would notice some little change in him. On one particular day, I opened his incubator, but didn't feed him right away. Then, I noticed this little patch of grey on his head turn a slightly different color .... it took a few looks before I realized that it was his sprouting crest! He was standing it straight up because he was mad that I was late to feed him; but the feathers were so short that his anger simply showed as a change in color. That was one of the signs I got from him that made me know that we were doing the right thing and that he was going to make it.
He became so accustomed to the syringe that he would approach it and eat right out of it. If he could have depressed the syringe himself, he would have! And he wouldn't wean until he was six months old. When he did wean, his choice of foods were as unique as he was. After trying everything under the sun to get him to eat solid foods, he finally broke down one night and walked across the table to take a big bite out of a spoonful of "cool-whip" from my husband's plate. Soon after, he tried lima beans and fell in love.
Cool whip and lima beans were the beginning of a whole new diet for Liddle and, soon after, he was eating on his own. His weight peaked at 60 grams, and he does have kidney problems that require a special diet. He's also had to have his feet "hobbled" because he was somewhat splay-legged and his missing toes affected his gait. Despite all of this, and more frequent vet visits than any bird could want to put up with, he is otherwise a plucky, feisty, vocal, opinionated, strutting little guy with a lot to do and say all of the time. In fact, I sometimes forget all about his rough start---that is, until I walk in the room and hear that familiar sweet little purr.
As we join to celebrate his birthday this June we are reminded that Liddle, and many birds like him, wouldn't have a chance without Mickaboo. We are so fortunate to have volunteers who will drive to the ends of the earth, stay up all night for feedings, and spend rare days off teaching classes and interviewing applicants; but we need funds to keep doing this very important work. Please consider making a donation towards Liddle's birthday fund so that we can continue to help birds like Liddle who are out there waiting to blossom and share their passion with a loving and caring home.