Monday, June 6, 2016

Our Little Chukars

It was a beautiful Sunday evening around seven o'clock when my husband and I decided to go for a walk down to the trail by our apartments.  

We hadn't even gotten down to the trail when all of a sudden I saw little puff balls running towards me.  Yes, 12 little puff balls were running towards me.  I immediately directed Moydie's attention towards them and we were shocked!  At first, I thought they were quail because they were so small, but then I realized they were so small because they were around a day old! 

But where was the mother? We kept looking around, not touching them, so the mother could come protect and take care of them.  For 5 minutes we looked and watched, but no mother was to be found.  By this time the chicks were starting to hop on our shoes and were trying to find shelter from the wind.  So, we sat down and gave them shelter.  The chicks particularly liked cuddling in between my sweatpants.  

Oh dear, they thought I was their mother . . . 
but I couldn't take care of them like their real mother would.

I found the number for Lehi Animal Control and unfortunately, they told us to call back in the morning because they wouldn't come out on a weekend for non-domesticated animals.  Huh? Ok . . . so what were we going to do with them? 

I then contacted my mother and other bird-loving friends for advice and they gave us two choices- 
1. Leave them and hope the mother comes back. 
2. Take them in for the night and then call Animal Control in the morning.  

We tried #1.  

Bu guess what? All 12 chicks followed us 50 meters to the parking lot!  

I started panicking.  They were going to get run over. They were going to be eaten by dogs.  I knew their lives were over.  

So Moydie and I did the most rational thing we could think of in the moment.  I got a box from our apartment, filled it with a warm towel and we took the chicks home for the night.  

Before bed, I tried to give them some water, but just soaked the towel instead.  

I wasn't too worried about their intake of food and water just yet because I was fairly certain they were less than 2 days old and the nutrients they ingested from their egg would keep them nourished for at least 3 days after hatching.
We changed the towel, made sure they were warm, and once the chicks were comfortable and sleeping, we went to sleep as well.  

In the morning, Moydie called Animal Control and the chicks were rejected because they were wild game.  Moydie tried to call people who take in wild birds, but received no success.  When I came back from my morning run around 10 am, we decided to set them loose and hope the mother comes to find them.  

We took them back to the place where we found them and lo and behold we found their nest! We found 12 broken eggs with a pile of adult Chukar feathers . . . 

With this ugly evidence, we believed their mother was killed trying to save them from a predator the day before.  Even with this development, we still left them there in the nest just in case the mother was just moulting.  

We checked on them at 5:45 pm and we could only find 9, but they were pecking at the weeds and seemed to be getting water from somewhere because they were acting normal.  We still gave them each some water and we have hope they will survive because this time, they were running away from us and hiding in the prickly bushes.  Those little suckers can camouflage too! They blend right in with the sage brush and rocky ground.  

We'll call them our Chukar chicks and check on them twice a day.
We're praying the majority of them will live up to adulthood and have little chicks of their own someday. 

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