I was outside trying to weed out the flower beds this morning when my neighbor pulled up and rolled down his window.
“Here!” he said handing out a small conure sized woodpecker-ish type bird.
“Where’d you find that?” I asked.
” He was standing in the middle of the road. I think he got hit by a car.”
I get this a lot. I’m willing to bet that anyone who owns birds gets this a lot. However, a lot of people also know that I want to go into avian medicine and seek me out as well. And I always like trying to help. This particular neighbor is a huge animal activist, has two rescued pit bulls and a rescued boxer, doesn’t eat red meat, and breaks for butterflies, so it didn’t surprise me that he would stop his car to pick up a bird.
The bird was actually a red bellied woodpecker. He was stunned and dazed when I got him, so I put him in a brooder and covered him with a towel to avoid him going into shock and promised my neighbor that if it was something I couldn’t handle I’d take him to the local wild life center. I took him upstairs to my upstairs bathroom, an area that my birds have never and will never have access to. Then, we closed that bathroom door and surveyed the damage.
The woodpecker didn’t have any open wounds or broken limbs, but he still wasn’t acting like a wild bird. He did start screaming and trying to bite me as I put him into Bella’s old cage, which was a good sign, and he was fluttering around and perching just fine, but he wasn’t as responsive as a wild bird would normally be. So, I decided to let him hang out in the bathroom for a few hours and see if he improved or if he was going to the wildlife center. We were going to a cookout later at a friends house that was near the woods, so if he was feeling better it would be the ideal place to release him. So, we left him with some pedialyte and meal worms and checked on him every half an hour for signs of improvement.
We also started looking up everything we could about red bellied woodpeckers. They common in this area and are classified as least concerned in the endangerment rankings. They eat insects, mostly worms, larva and moths. They nest in tree cavities that they hollow out and are very important for all of the food webs and ecosystems because their empty tree hollows provide nests for many other species of birds. They’re also often mistaken for a red headed woodpecker.
Each time we checked the woodpecker he was more alert and more responsive. I think he might have just gotten stunned off a windshield or a mirror and needed a little down time to recover in a safe place. By the time it was ready to go to the party, he was trying is hardest to get away from us when we checked him, and even went as far as to scold us for invading on him. We decided to take him with us and see if he could fly away. We packed him up with us, took a few pictures, and took him up to the cook out for a release. The home that we went to visit was only a few miles from where he was found, so if he really wanted to, he could find his way back. However, I think he’ll be much safer and happier where we released him.
As soon as we let him go, he was gone without a glance back. We later found out that the area had many other woodpeckers, so hopefully he went and found so friends. I’m just glad that he was ok.