Gwen is one tough mamma. She has apparently decided that two babies is plenty. Early this morning, she dumped egg #3 from the nest, although the chick was in the process of hatching, . Luckily it got caught in the branches with the chick still inside. Egg #4 became breakfast; the embryo was not yet recognizable as a chick, so I guess it was too far behind. Egg #5 is so far still functioning as a pillow for chick #2 and remains in tact for now.
That leaves us with #3, whose fate hangs in the balance. I went in and rescued the egg (and got a good whack on the head for my efforts). The membrane was dried out and stuck to the little guy, which is why he couldn’t hatch. Over a few hours, and with the help of a damp towel, I managed to extract him.
So now the challenge is acquiring crow spit. I wish I were kidding. The parents transmit all sorts of good bacteria to the babies in the first 48 hours while feeding them. Without that, the chick won’t develop the ability to digest and it will die. Luckily I have some extra crows hanging around, namely three rehab crows who have been freeloading for weeks. One has pox and so is not a good donor but the other two have wing injuries and so are perfectly healthy. Time to give back, guys!. My plan is to feed the American crow dog food in a syringe and then use the same syringe to feed the baby and hope some bacteria transfers that way. In addition, I have developed a new game: q-tip tug of war. If I can get the q-tip in the crow’s mouth, then letting go means defeat, so it seems like I can get some crow salvia that way as well. So If anyone has a better idea, please let me know.
Here is the little guy having a nap after a full meal of a milliliter hatchling formula. Yum! Even with all these heroics, the chances of survival are between slim and none. The first year Gwen had babies, she didn’t start dumping them until a few days after the younger ones hatched, so the one I raised was 2-3 days old when I started. This little guy got nothing from Mom but a good peck on the head that produced a nasty bruise. But slim to none beats zero, so I’ll take it.
Someday all this will get too crazy to deal with. For for now, my kingdom for crow gut sludge!