I'm Sam Litzinger with Dr. Gary Weitzman of the San Diego Humane Society. We're interested in your animal-related questions and stories. 877-610-3647 or email@example.com. Again our telephone number is 1, if you need that 1, 877-610-3647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can play our Animal of the Day quiz on "The Animal House" Facebook page. You can visit facebook.com and search for "The Animal House" and there we shall be. Let's take a telephone call from Marjorie. Marjorie, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yep, thank you, Sam. Thanks for taking my call. A week or so ago a neighbor and I found a little baby bird in the street beside the yard that's attached to our building. So we managed to pick it up in a box and bring it into the yard so that it at least wasn't in danger from the traffic.
Oh, good for you, Marjorie.
Yeah, and the parent bird was a mockingbird.
The parent birds were swooping and diving.
Oh, yeah, that's a mockingbird.
Very agitated, yeah.
So we put it on the grass and there was nothing more that we could think of to do. It might have had a broken wing. It was hopping, but clearly couldn't fly.
And we didn't know if there was something else we could have done to save it, to help the parents. I mean, we had no idea where the nest was.
You know, well, the first thing is a public service announcement for everyone that finds a little bird on the ground, it could well be a fledgling. Don't touch. But in your case, Marjorie, you did the right thing...
...because, you know, we don’t want the baby in the street.
What happened, though? Did that bird finally go off?
No. We think it died. We put it under a bush -- well, it sort of hopped under a bush. We put some things to protect it from passing dogs, but we assume it died because the parent flew away. By the next day, the parents weren't there.
Okay. Well you know, generally speaking, this time of year, you know, late spring, early summer, which we're in now, this time of year, most of the small young birds that you'll find outside are indeed fledglings who have gone out of the nest and they are learning to fly. And, you know, that whole Disney World view that we have or Walt Disney view of birds that we have that they fly from the nest isn't really accurate. They actually tumble and they're quite clumsy. But it looks like they can't fly, but actually they can. Now, this little fellow may have actually been doing all the right things. So chances are that's the case. You might have set him back a little bit, but you made him safer because, you know, we don’t want him in traffic.
But that's fine, you know, but probably he learned how to go off from there and learned how to fly in his own non-Bolshoi ballet kind of way. And everything was fine. You know, we...
The old concern to save them and put them back in the nest, that's just gonna set them back again and annoy the parents and make it harder for the baby. And, you know, and generally cats don't find these little guys. You know, that's the other thing that everybody warns against. You know, cats are gonna...
...pick up the baby birds. And actually that doesn't happen very often. So I think...
...let's go with -- since there's no feathers or anything…
...else hanging around there…
...let's go with that this little guy has actually made it off and he's, you know, becoming a...
...grownup mockingbird at this point. But, you know, you did the right thing to get him out of the street. No worries about that.
Let's just say for everybody else, if you do...
...find a bird that you find and that bird stays in that area and looks injured, absolutely call your local Humane Society or rescue league, you know, whoever...
But this little guy -- I bet there was a happy ending.
Okay. That's good to know.
Good for you, Marjorie. You did good work.
Thank you. I hope you're enjoying San Diego.
Oh, very much. Thanks.
Oh, good, good.
Lots of baby birds out there, too, I'll bet.
There's a few and some larger ones, too. There's actually flocks of parrots out here, too, which you wouldn't expect.
But I haven't seen a skink.
Well, stay tuned, there's probably...
...one coming around here pretty soon. Let's take a telephone call from Catherine. Catherine, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes, Sam. Hi, Dr. Weitzman. Thanks so much.
And sure appreciate your show. Okay. So I should be calling about my foster cat, but I'm not. I'm calling about a lost parrot.
Oh, just talked about parrots.
It's our theme. We inadvertently got the parrot theme going. So what's going on with your parrot?
I think so.
Indeed. So and this actually is not my parrot. It belongs to another person. And he is lost. He left her around mid April. And she, the owner, who lives out like near Bethesda River Road, has orchestrated a search. I am simply trying to be another set of eyes and ears to hopefully increase the chances that, you know, someone will hear him or see him.
And I Googled to see if I could find some information about how to find a lost parrot, what to do. So I've been going out sometimes -- I'll have the owner direct me to the woods there out kind of between Burdette Road and Beech Tree Road, that area.
And I go walking around sometimes at sunrise, like at 6:00 a.m., sometimes at sunset.
Right, good time. You are a good friend.
How long has the parrot been missing?
Since mid-April. And I wondered, actually, based on Joanna Burger's book, if it might have something to do with his having an urge to go mate or something, which seemed to occur there around April.
Yeah, it certainly could be.
But I wondered, like, how high or low to look. Is he likely to be gregarious, like to go hang around noisy mockingbirds, or is he gonna be by himself more? Is it advisable for me to call him or try to whistle, which I can't? Is he apt to be flying or still?
Right. And, you know, this happens unfortunately more often than most people know. And I would say if it's been about three or four months and this little guy's been gone that long and there's been no sighting of him, that the chances of getting him back are gonna be pretty low.
There's been sightings that are unclear. The one that was most notable was someone who heard his specific whistle. He has some specific tunes he whistles. And someone called and said I heard this whistle.
And right near there. I mean, right -- that Burning Tree, Melody Lane area.
Okay. Well, I would say the things that you can do of course are to get the food that he likes and provide it there in a tray or something. Anywhere near where you think that he's gonna be. As far as where that's gonna be, it's totally up to him. They're gonna generally wanna be in big, bushy trees. So...
...not too high up, but that doesn't meant that he won't go that high up.
And if you do see a flock of mockingbirds, you can pretty much know for sure that he's nowhere to be found.
Because they're not gonna stand to have a parrot nearby or anybody else.
I mean, you know if you've ever walked your dogs or anything near a nest of mockingbirds, you're gonna get dive-bombed.
And the same thing would happen to a parrot that's out there. So I would say if there's other birds that are actually aggressive birds, like mockingbirds or catbirds, probably you're not gonna find this little guy there. But if you have any idea where he is or someone has seen him or heard his call, then I would get his tray of food. Even get his cage...
The owner's been doing that.
...and leave it there.
Yep, the owner's actually put him out where she believes that he could be.
Yeah, there's not a whole lot else you can do, unfortunately.
There are trackers, though, that will do that kind of work for you. And you can just go online and look in whatever area anybody's in and look for, you know, bird trackers. And you can find people that actually will help find dogs that are lost or cats and help with traps.
Not a whole lot with birds, but there's a few out there that might be able to lend some expertise.
But, you know, sadly, the real truth is that it's gonna be very tough to get him back. I mean, you don't have a big stick and a net. And it's not so easy, you know.
But if there's any chance it'll be because he wants to come back, 'cause he wants to eat or he wants that cage.
So I would get that near where you think you found him.
I'm really sorry to hear, but, you know, he'll do fine for the summer. And hopefully, you know, find his way to someone else's house.
Maybe when winter comes around or it gets colder, he'll say it's time to go home. That would be nice.
That's what I'm hoping.
That's a possibility, too.
Thanks for doing all that, Catherine.
Oh, yeah, thank you.
You're a great friend.
Our telephone number is 877-610-3647. Our email address is email@example.com. Let's take a telephone call from Angie. Angie, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Thank you for taking my call.
What has happened is I started feeding the birds in my backyard several years ago. And lo and behold, it's attracted two feral cats. Now, years have gone by and I've got a colony of feral cats. And I don't know where they're coming from.
In your backyard?
Well, they spread out over to both neighbors on both sides of me.
And up the street, and I'm wondering how do you stop feeding them.
Yeah, that's actually a really good question. And the brutal answer is you don't, because then they don't do well, of course. But, you know, you're gonna -- how many cats do you think you have? A couple dozen?
They know when I pull up, they know when I’m at home and if I open the door they come out of nowhere.
Yeah, you know, I’m more worried in the less wonderful times of year when the temperature is bad. Where do you live?
I'm in King George County. I’m just south of the Potomac River.
Okay. All right. You know, right now, summer of course and into fall everything is okay and probably the cats could do okay if you stopped feeding them. You're not the only one feeding that colony are you?
I doubt it. No. I...
'Cause I meet people at the grocery store in the cat food aisle. And …
Oh, okay. This is how you meet all your neighbors. And are you feeding them actually in your backyard?
In the yard, right. Right.
Okay. Well, the only other thing you can do -- obviously they're not living in your backyard the whole time -- you could feed them in an alley or -- well, you're not in an alley, you're more in the country.
But in the field where they are, you could feed them away from your yard and try to move that food out a little bit. They're definitely gonna find other places to eat this time of year, but it's still -- it's really difficult because they get dependent and, you know, you're providing for them. And it's just really hard because they need this. I would say that the main thing that you should do is let your animal control organization, whoever it is -- if it's a city or a county or it's a private group -- let them know that there's a colony of feral cats. And at least we can get them spade and neutered and vaccinated. And generally they are trapped, they are spade and neutered, they get shots, they get treatments for fleas and ear mites and all of that.
It's great. And then they get re-released back where they were found because we really don't wanna disrupt their lives that much. And obviously that's the most humane alternative to do, but it's really tough. I mean, it can break your heart if you actually stop feeding them. So I don't know if it's possible for you to move that food away from your yard and maybe more toward the field that they're coming from. Is that a possibility?
Well, it is a subdivision. It's a small subdivision, but I could probably move it further out towards the border of my yard.
Mm-hmm. Yeah, that might at least be...
They are actually living in the yard.
Oh, they are? Okay. Yeah, well one thing, you know, is if you stop feeding, your neighbors are gonna have more of a problem because they're gonna be -- that restaurant's gonna be packed outside of your yard. I'd say if you can still continue to feed them, that's good-hearted of you. And I certainly would encourage that, but I would talk to your humane group and find out if there's a Trap-Neuter-Return program anywhere near you. And there probably is because this is really a very, you know, tried and true method of controlling the population. But, you know, right now I'd say it's really gonna be hard to stop feeding them, but maybe move it a little bit farther out to your periphery.
Angie, thank you very much.
Yeah, it's a tough. It is tough for that. And say a word or two, before we wrap things up, about feral cats generally. 'Cause in an ideal world, I guess there really wouldn't be any, right, Gary?
There wouldn't be any. And actually this has been something that's been recognized for the last decade or so. And the only thing that we know that can help this problem is to get them spade and neutered and re-released back where they are. But, you know, honestly we've had a couple of calls just in a row here where the whole issue's come to pass because it's letting cats outside, not spaying and neutering, and then we have feral cats. We have kittens that are born out there, you know. And really they're wild animals. You don't pet these cats. Some of them can be a little bit more docile, but you still have to be careful. And that's really the issue. It's all about spay and neuter.
And in urban populations, and we just heard a little bit even in a more rural one, it's even an issue there. But spay and neuter is the key. And be responsible for your pets.
Good advice, as always. Thanks, Dr. Gary.
This is Dr. Gary Weitzman with an "Animal House" pet care tip. Summer's here and this is the most popular time of year to get a new pup or kitten for your family. It must be the weather or the newfound time we have at home with our families after Memorial Day. So if you're in the market for a new canine or feline friend, check first at your local animal shelter. That's the best place to start. What many people don't know is that often a quarter to even a third of a shelter's animals are purebred, sometimes even more. So even if you don't find that Chinese crested you've always wanted or the Persian you had as a kid, state your preferences to your adoption coordinator.
Many times they'll stay on the lookout for exactly what you're looking for. Or simply try to find a place in your heart for someone else. No matter what, you'll find your perfect new best friend and you'll save a life at the same time. For "The Animal House," I'm Dr. Gary Weitzman.
This edition of "The Animal House" is near completion. First, here's the answer to our animal of the day quiz. Earlier, we asked if you could identify the shark that has a life span of 100 years. The answer? The spiny dogfish, also known as the spurdog or mud shark. Thanks to Jake Levenson, Lori Birdsong, Steven Latham, Ari Daniel Shapiro, PRI's "The World," and PBS's "NOVA" for their contributions today. We also thank Bob James, Claude Debussy and Acoustic Alchemy for their music today. Also, special thanks to Dr. Gary Weitzman for his work. And thanks to you for joining us in "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger.
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