We are still known as "the bird people" to many, and are often called for nature's mishaps of songbird chicks being found from the nest and in a predicament. We are not wildlife rehabbers - which is where the chicks often end up going.
I received such a call from my cousin-in-law, Linda, this evening. Two baby bluebirds were found in her yard as she was bringing in laundry. The chicks were struggling in the grass, one dragging another. As it turns out, their legs were fused - connecting them as if they were "Siamese twins". It seemed as though the extreme temperatures melded their legs together while snuggled in the nest. The parent birds were nearby and keeping an eye on things when I arrived to find the baby birds in a shoebox with a lid, as I instructed to help keep them calm.
Can you see the situation in the photo? It seemed like tissue or ligaments held the legs, like sinewy thread. Unsure what I would need prior to arriving, I packed up AB Rescue Wash, FC5 Skin Conditioning Oil, toothpicks, cotton tipped applicators, a small container, water, and paper towel torn into smaller pieces.
When I called the bluebird expert she explained how feces from the babies in the nest can create a "cement" that can fuse chicks together, which is why she checks and monitors nestboxes frequently. I figured I would be cleaning up dried poop, even my cousin described it as "skin fusion". My cousin was right - there was very little dried feces involved in the situation.
I talked my 14 yr. old son into coming along - I knew I would need someone to hold the magnifying glass no matter the situation.
Before starting the procedure I called Ann to give her an update, and she explained how bluebird chicks, unlike most songbirds, are cared for by the parents for two weeks once they fledge from the nest. Our goal, if we were successful in separating the chicks, was to return them to the pine tree from which we thought they had come, as it was dead at the top and had a small cavity. For those that are not aware, bluebirds are cavity nesters and rely on nestboxes, as many years ago they would nest in rotting wooden fenceposts. Once farmers switched to the metal fence posts, bluebirds lost their nesting sites and became much more scarace.
I showed Linda how to hold the birds in a light cloth, keeping their heads covered to reduce stress, and ensure no pressure was put on the crop which would cut their air supply. They really did not struggle, which was a great help. We prayed over the situation prior to starting our little operation - no doubt God had a hand in calming His creatures as we tried to help them.