Every once in a while I get a rehab bird who defies all the odds against survival. My first year, it was a blue jay named Pedialyte. He came in with essentially no feathers – just some straw-like things stuck on his body – a sign of a severe nutritional deficiency in the nest. I fed him pinkie mice soaked in pedialyte all summer and, against all predictions, he grew a proper set of feathers. and I was able to send him on his way.
This year’s buddy is another blue jay who arrived as a fledging with the diagnosis “messed up feet.” MUF syndrome developed into a serious case of MULS (messed up leg syndrome). At one point his right leg joint was swollen to the size of a marble. His left leg splayed out; He could barely move, much less perch or fly. I tried the usual remedies (hobbling, making “shoes” to uncurl his toes), all without much success. So I opted for diet and time. Slowly he started to hop around, first on one leg, then two. Then came perching – more like squatting on a branch, at first but now he can actually fly up and grip a branch.
For some reason, he is growing new feathers – he has pin feathers on the top of his head and down his chest. I have no idea why but like to think maybe he’s sprucing up his wardrobe for his upcoming debut into the world. He’s been a quiet steady presence all summer—until today when he started in with the blue jay shriek. Further indication that his summer visit may be coming to a close, and he’s planning on flying away with the warm weather.