Never a dull moment around here… I had just settled into my Saturday afternoon routine of catching up on work, when I heard Gene yelling from outside. I wasn’t too panicked, since I had just heard him leave like 5 seconds prior and how much trouble can you get into in five seconds? Then he started yelling for me to get Ceri inside, and my first thought was the “Air Bear” is back!
But as it turns out, the minute he stepped outside a Jay bird flew right at his chest and started fluttering in the his face. It then fell into a snow bank, where of course Ceri tried to introduce herself. He called me out to take a look, and we scooped the poor thing out of the snow and saw his beak was frozen shut. (It was around -20 at the time). We picked him up, and he sat there for a second, then took off flying but didn’t get far. Unfortunately he tumbled right underneath the cargo trailer, which is surrounded on all sides by deep snow (waist deep, as Gene soon figured out). The bird managed to slip right through the gap between the snow and the metal, so Gene had to burrow in and dig him back out.
We brought him back inside and slowly warmed him up in a kennel, stocked with warm water to drink and a selection of snacks. Happily, JB (I named him right away, obviously) partook of the buffet within about 15 minutes.
We decided to keep him overnight so he could rest and warm up, but when I let him go again early this morning he was still having obvious troubles flying. He ended up in another snow bank and just kind of spun around.
On the plus side, I was able to find a certified wildlife rehab by checking the DNR’s website. On the down side, the closest one was in Duluth, which is several hours away. Road trip! Gene didn’t even grumble too much since I said we could stop at Duluth Trading Company and buy him some more work pants.
It ended up being a really cool rescue – there was a poster on the wall listing the number of different types of animals they had saved in 2018, and a new one for 2019 (JB will be the second Jay bird rescued so far this year!) They’ll take any animal, including tiny little field mice and disturbingly large Norway rats. (Shudder. I love all of God’s creatures, but my first encounter with a Norway rat was in Washington. I thought it was a beaver, then I took a closer look and was all, hey, honey, why is a beaver dragging a dead duck around a lake? Ya, it was a huge Norway rat, and apparently duck take-out is a thing for them. I still have nightmares.)
We learned that Jay birds have very strong social bonds, and they mate for life. So fingers crossed – we’ll be able to go pick him up and bring him back here so he can rejoin his flock. Somewhere between 30 and 40 of them spend the morning and early afternoon here, hanging out at the selection of feeders and sneaking the corn from the deer feed. In the winter they get peanuts, twice a day if it’s super cold. At first we just had 5 or 6, but word spread quickly and now I’m pretty sure every Jay in the Iron Range swings by for breakfast. We don’t even have their preferred type of feeder – they like a tray or platform-on-a-post best. I can’t wait to see how many show up once Gene builds a few of those! I added it to his to-do list.
At any rate, we’re still waiting for word on how his intake exam went (everyone send good thoughts his way!). If JB needs a specialist, they’ll even bring him down to a vet in the Twin Cities for surgery. We didn’t have to pay anything to drop him off, but they have such a cool mission I whipped out my checkbook and made a donation. I didn’t even stipulate that they couldn’t use it to rescue rats.