Hi my name is Ema, and this little one is a baby Dove newly named Hope. Please read more below, and help give Hope a chance!
I am working under a Certified Wilderness Rehabilitator (CWR) in my area to get my Wildlife Rehabilitation Certification, and in doing so rehabilitating this baby Dove. It is tornado season in Michigan, which means lots of storms, and doves are not known to be the best nest builders often leading to this fate or worse for their brood. This little baby dove was just a few days old with feathers still sheathed and in complete shock from the experience of being blown from the tall trees above when found two weeks ago today. The baby dove was soaking wet and muddy from surviving the storm on the ground. He would cry out (motion such), but had no voice. I got him cleaned up and into a warmer place. (Technically the sex of a bird cannot be known until much older, so we will just say he, as this is what my CWR advisor said.) The first step is always to get a baby bird this young warm. I got him into a basket with some organic bedding and a heating pad on low under the basket, and soon the little one stopped shivering.
Originally the local Certified Wilderness Rehabilitator was coming to get him, but due to the busy season I took on the job of keeping the little one warm and hand feeding every two hours under their guidance. We did not know if the dove would make it through the first day, as the little one was quite limp to begin and had hazy eyes. It is rare for a bird younger than seven days to survive without the care and nutrition provided from the parents, and he was likely younger than this. He survived the first night and awoke with renewed strength and a chirp, which gave me much hope! He still had his egg tooth and was not ready for seed at such a young age. I began with grinding sunflowers mixed in water, as advised, and he took little bits at a time.
The baby dove continued to get stronger over the next day, and kept busy preening. By the end of the second day there was a little mane of feathers. It was absolutely adorable watching all the change in just a day. Nature is indeed brilliant!
The baby was not eating much in the standard ways utilized by the CWR advising me, such as from the tip of my finger or a spoon, but we kept trying and thankfully he continued eating little bits. He seemed to prefer the spoon over the tip of my finger, as he was not yet pecking and just used it’s little tongue to lick the “milk”. Their tongues are white, and so tiny, like a thread.
Soon the baby Dove showed me through action that it wanted to feed from the cracks between my fingers, which does indeed replicate quite closely how doves feed from their parents. Did you know doves feed differently than a song bird? They actually stick their beaks into the parents beak to feed rather than the more known method of many bird types where the parents insert the beak into the babies. They also drink a crop “milk” created by both the mother and father. Right before the eggs hatch the adult birds hormones shift to produce such. I am using a “milk” supplement used for rearing parrots.
After about a week together the little one proved even more that he can do the basics and began to perch. I added a branch to the basket and some seeds, but he was still too young for the seeds, and had no interest.
We got a bigger basket so there is more room to be active and added a few more branches. I made a little nest too which seems to have become the potty place, but at least it is easy to clean with the little liner. I also had to cover the new basket with a bit of screen due to him starting to flap and hop up to get to the edge of the basket. Sometimes I need to walk away, yet I admit it is rare. This little one has me captivated and committed to see him thrive!
After two weeks of eating lots and growing strong it is apparent that this little one too has hope and will survive, but may never be able to fully go wild again due to the age found and becoming very accustomed to human interaction. It also appears to have some damage to one wing, although the little one has begun to take short flights usually to me in search of feeding time, which is a great sign. Until he has come to full size it cannot be wrapped, so we do not know yet if the dove will be viable for release in the long run, yet we want to have hope. Being that doves are not a rare species, yet indeed beautiful, if not be deemed viable for release some organizations choose to euthanize. I hope to give this little one a change to grow into full size, heal the wing completely, and take to the skies eventually! I am also committed to finding a long term solution for a home, if not able to go completely wild once again. Possibly staying right here need be, as long as I can create the right environment and obtain my certification.
For now we need to update his space again with an outdoor aviary for the day, and see if little Hope will be able to fully fly. At night the dove will still come inside to stay safe from predators, until proven otherwise capable. I had hoped to construct something myself, and even began to re-purpose an old loft into a screened in structure, but to follow all protocol and get my certification I find it best to order a proper outdoor and indoor aviary. I believe I will continue to build this as a backup space if more birds are to come, it just may take more time than I had envisioned. Elements of the certification require a proper set up to care for the animals and an inspection to complete the process.
With a larger outdoor aviary Hope will then be able to begin to fly more and prove his strength and will to all, that this little one has shown me. Hope loves to perch and now soars from the basket onto me whenever this little one pleases. As sweet as it is, it is more reasons to get a bigger space as soon as possible, for more time outdoors, and in a more natural environment before getting too old and accustomed to indoor living. So many mores there, but so necessary for more to be possible.
I have created a fundraiser, so please share what you can and give us more hope! You can see a similar write-up to this, and more updates coming soon, at our GoFundMe. This little one deserves a chance to thrive, and keep growing in a safe environment! This will also be an investment in my Wildlife Rehabilitation Certification process and enable me to hold other birds when needed for the Wilderness Rehabilitation Group in my area. There are still a couple more weeks of hand feeding before weaning, but this little one is learning to peck and on the way to eating seeds. Yesterday we began eating from bowls, but still on the “milk” supplement.
He does peck at seeds, but unless in almost powder form, he just tosses them aside. He now has a bowl of mixed wild bird seed in his basket to begin accustoming him to finding his food. He is gaining about 10g a day in weight and growing strong. I can see color change beginning to happen in his wings also. Amazing to think that soon, just a few more weeks, and he will look entirely different in color tone and size. Hope loves to perch upon the edge of the basket and keep busy preening all those new feathers.
Thank you for your kindness and caring! I hope that this little dove named Hope will inspire a little peace and hope in all of your lives, as it has done in mine. I am honored to be a caretaker of nature and thank you from the depths of my heart for your support. All donations will go to get Hope an indoor and outdoor aviary, and allow me to help other doves and similar birds in the future with this set-up. Thanks for giving us a hand and helping to grow Hope!
PLEASE share our GoFundMe and give what you can, or follow the heart at the top of this page to find the donation link. You can donate to our PayPal anytime. Any bit helps, and gives us hope for HOPE! Loves and Gratitude! Thank you again!!!