What in the world is a Vireo, you ask? Why, it’s a 6″ pale green bird that lives in our forests and eats bugs during the summer months.
While enjoying a sunny day at our cabin, I often find myself gazing up over my book and into the forest. Often during these interruptions I witness incredible views of fawns with their mothers, woodpeckers feeding on dead trees, or eagles soaring overhead.
On this particular day as I was looking into the woods I saw a lump fall out of a tree less than 20′ from my chair. Another small lump followed close behind. When I investigated I found two naked baby birds in need of help.
Their nest had been partially destroyed, leaving a gaping ole in the side, from which these two ejected. I could hear more babies up there, but was unable to reach even close to the nest to aid them or put these babies back. So, I gently warmed them in a makeshift nest and set about the job of surrogate mother until I could decide what to do.
Note: I am state and federally licensed to treat wild birds. If you find wildlife that is injured or you are SURE is orphaned, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for help. The DNR can refer you to someone in your area.
These babies needed supplemental heat to maintain body temperature, and constant feedings of bugs to stay alive. I recruited all of our guests at the cabin for the weekend and we soon had lots of flies and moths for feeding the little guys. They eat a lot! In one feeding, one of them took 18 flies!
We had to return home, but had plans to return to the cabin the next weekend. The babies continued to grow and readily accepted a hand feeding formula in place of their bugs for a few days.
Upon returning to the cabin, I placed their enclosure near the tree from which they had fallen. I could easily supervise from the cabin without disturbing them.
To my surprise, within 15 minutes of them returning, their mom showed up. She was quite excited, recognized her babies instantly, and tried to get to them through the side of the box.
The babies had grown and feathered out quickly, and were already taking small flights while in my care. They were ready to go. I opened the box and let their mom coax them out at their own pace.
Eventually, one of the babies followed her to a tree on the edge of the woods, and the other baby I carried over to be nearby. As I sat on the deck watching for most of the afternoon, mom diligently returned over and over to feed and care for her lost kids. It was such a great sight!
I heard these babies calling to their mom all afternoon, and then by evening they quieted down. By the next morning they were gone and I haven’t seen a sign of any of them since.
I don’t know what happened to the baby that remained in the nest, but I do know that the two little vireo babies came into my life for a few days, gratefully accepted the help that was offered, and were reunited with their mom who is the only one to teach them about surviving in the forest.