Through the winter months, one of the most common birds at our Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) feeders and around our gardens are tiny dark-eyed juncos. Bold and vocal, their quick movements and bossy calls make them easy to spot, and the wide variations in their colouring keeps them interesting.
At the end of nesting season, in the autumn, juncos return from their summer haunts at higher elevations, bringing their inexperienced young to the milder weather of our qathet region.
Unfortunately, juncos are also frequent victims of cat attacks, as most of their foraging is done on the ground. Not even a mouthful for a cat, even when the bird is dropped uninjured, its survival is far from certain. The stress of the experience can be enough to fatally damage the tiny creature’s heart, resulting in death within a couple of hours.
We celebrate every one that survives the first night, giving it antibiotic and pain medication, then placing it in a quiet environment, near other small birds, and ensuring it has easily accessible food and water in a cage with plenty of foliage to hide in. As the recovery progresses, they are often put in a large cage together, as they are very social and improve much faster. The room is alive with their clicks and calls like mini-lasers.
When released, they are a challenge for our photographer, as they rocket out and head for the nearest shrub. These special patients will soon be leaving to make their way back to the mountains.