[CT Birds] The lady and the sanctuary

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Mon Jun 21 14:47:48 EDT 2010

Last Friday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Jayne Amico at the Mt Vernon Bird Sanctuary in Southington. I have long known of Jayne's good work but it had been a long time since I had visited her and seen her efforts first hand. Much has changed since that  last visit. There are more buildings and structures dedicated to treating sick and injured birds as well as new nesting structures for Swifts and Swallows and much more. What hasn't changed is Jayne's dedication to the birds she treats and the selflessness of her efforts. When I arrived she was hand feeding newly released White-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees and well as others including a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. This entails standing under a Mulberry Tree and reaching as high as she can with mealworms held in a hemostat, like a small  version of the statue of liberty, only with mealworms instead of a torch. It is fascinating how these young birds all shiver their wings and beg but refuse to move to Jayne's level. After all, these birds real parents can fly and the young expect Jayne to bring food up to them. Eventually hunger drives them (ever sooooooo slowly) lower so Jayne can reach them. After feeding the newly released young birds, who will learn to forage for themselves as time passes, Jayne showed me all the changes that she has made since last I visited. We walked the grounds and the complex of buildings and cages while Jayne told me of recent successes and failures. She showed me a very ill Barn Swallow she was trying hard to save as well as other ill and injured birds in various stages of recovery/treatment. I was deeply impressed by the level of knowledge and experience she has gained over the time she has been doing this. She also lamented the number of Black Rat Snakes she has to fend off on the property. Black Rat Snakes are voracious nest robbers by the way. To be honest I was hoping to find one as I love snakes and love catching them, but of course I'm not seeing nests predated on my property like Jayne is.

It wasn't long before the avian youngsters were once again clamoring for a feeding. So it was back under the Mulberry Tree with the forceps held skyward with little balls of wiggling mealworms held in the tip. It doesn't take long doing this before you realize these little feathered creatures don't even think about where they are when they expel waste and Jayne was soon christened for the umpteenth time. What a metaphor for life as a parent! You do everything you can for your kids and they poop on you. Well it is worth it of course, in both cases. When she had once again quelled the little ones hunger we sat and talked for a moment. But is wasn't long before she pointed out a Common Grackle foraging in her garden who suffered from a massive growth on the side of its face that obscured one of its eyes. She tried to use its blind side to catch it by hand to examine and treat it but it eluded her (happily she has since caught it and is currently treating it). Very soon Jayne again was called to feeding duty and was raising mealworms skyward for another round. After the begging was temporarily silenced we quickly escaped for a brief lunch of sushi in town. When we returned the youngsters were again ravenously begging and little feathered darts buzzed both of us as soon as we exited my truck. They'd never seen me before but the blonde lady with me was so very familiar. Mealworms skyward once more. Later that afternoon Jayne would be taking an Eastern Box Turtle we found immobile in her pond to the vet to start treatment for a bacterial infection, again giving up her time to help an unwell and suffering creature. It isn't just sick or injured birds that benefit from Jayne's awareness and caring. Snakes being somewhat of an exception of course.

It is difficult to appreciate the dedication and commitment that resides in someone like Jayne without witnessing it first hand. It takes quite a toll on someone to do what she does, and she is on duty nonstop 7 days a week.  I couldn't do it to be honest. In a world where we are awash in negativity and depressing news, it is spiritually reaffirming to spend some time watching someone doing such good and selfless acts. We are very lucky to have Jayne and the Mt. Vernon Bird Sanctuary with us in CT. I wanted to take a moment to publicly express my appreciation for her efforts and the awe and respect I have for her work and commitment. And to say how honored and fortunate I feel to call her a friend.

Dave Provencher
Naturally New England<http://naturallynewengland.blogspot.com/>

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