A Year After An Abandoned Hatchling’s Rescue, His Transformation Was Astounding

Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
The day was pretty uneventful – until the object on the ground caught her eye. Wondering what the strange item was, she moved closer for a better look. It turned out to be a bird’s egg, but, surprisingly, as the woman held it in her hand, it was moving.
Image: Jodi Green
In June of 2015 Susan Hickman uploaded a video to YouTube detailing how a new chapter in her life had started. In the captions accompanying the footage she recounted how a year earlier she’d found something very precious on the floor. That object was an egg.
Image: Sarah Horrigan
The little egg had been isolated from its nest, and the mother was nowhere to be seen. And not only was there no way Hickman could know where the egg came from, but it also looked damaged. Indeed, the shell was cracked, which suggested that the egg had struck the ground with quite an impact.
Image: palo
Naturally curious about the egg, Hickman picked it up to examine it closer, and then she received quite a surprise. Wherever the egg had come from, the chick inside had, remarkably, survived the journey. Yes, inside the shell there was still some movement – and then something amazing happened.
Image: palo
Suddenly, before Hickman’s very eyes, a baby bird began to hatch from the little cracked egg. She subsequently found herself holding a tiny newborn that would be expecting his mother’s attention. The hatchling was a long way from home, however, and all alone in the world.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Alone, that is, except for the human staring down at him with a mixture of surprise and wonder. Hickman’s first instinct was to return the baby to his nest, but she didn’t know where he had come from. So, under the circumstances, she decided that there was only one option.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Hickman’s text commentary on the rescue video described her thought process. “I could not… would not… just leave [him] there to die,” she explained. So, she decided that the best way to give the chick a fighting chance was to take [him] home with her.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Hickman doesn’t mention any past experience raising baby birds, but nonetheless her actions probably saved the hatchling. Indeed, she knew that it was essential to keep the baby warm. “Just minutes after he emerged… I had him nice and cozy in a makeshift incubator,” she wrote.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Yet despite her limited experience, Hickman did know people who were well practiced at rehabilitating wild birds. The news that they delivered wasn’t good, however. The chick’s chances of survival away from the nest were apparently low, and so they told Hickman not to get her hopes up.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Despite the odds, though, Hickman couldn’t be dissuaded and was determined to try her best for the hatchling. What’s more, when she woke up the following morning, the baby bird was still alive. So, she decided to give him a name: from that moment on, the chick was called Klinger.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Hickman quickly found out that raising a newborn baby bird was not easy. In the video, she explained how feeding was very frequent indeed. “For the first two weeks of his life, Klinger had to be fed every 30 minutes from sun up to sun down,” she wrote.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Indeed, he had quite an appetite for a little hatchling, and Hickman said that he “never missed a meal.” Moreover, in time, under his foster mommy’s care and attention, Klinger became bigger and fluffier. So, it wasn’t long before he started looking more bird-like.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
In fact, to Hickman’s joy, he soon started to grow his feathers in. At that age, though, it would still have been almost impossible to know what species of bird Klinger is at a glance. It’s likely, then, that his foster mom was looking forward to finding out this important information.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Raising the bird must have been an amazing experience for Hickman to have. The more Klinger ate, the more he grew. Then one day, Klinger opened his eyes for the first time and looked at the woman he saw as his mommy.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Hickman had looked after him well, but he would soon become self-dependent. The more feathers he grew, the more he looked like a full-grown bird, and in due course he was eating on his own and even learning how to fly. His species also became more obvious: Klinger was a starling!
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
When he was old enough to look after himself, Hickman was going to release Klinger into the wild. However, something that she wasn’t initially aware of changed her plans. Klinger had already imprinted on Hickman and consequently thought of her as his mommy.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
As a result, he identified with humans more than he did with other birds. That meant he was unable to learn the survival skills that he needed to live in the wild. Consequently, Klinger would most likely die if he was released.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
But it wasn’t all bad news, as Hickman’s video revealed. “Fortunately, I live in a state that does not prohibit keeping starlings as pets,” she wrote, “So, Klinger will always have a home with me.” And what’s more, he doesn’t want for anything.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Klinger now spends his days being showered with love and attention by his foster mommy. Indeed, he has discovered a love of bathing in a little dish that Hickman places over the sink’s drain. He has baths throughout the day and also loves to play with toys. Amazingly, Klinger has also even learned how to talk. Well, he can manage a few garbled words at English at least.
Image: YouTube/Susan Hickman
Klinger may not be able to return to the wild, but if Hickman hadn’t rescued him, the starling would almost certainly have died. Now, however, he has a great life in a loving home with his adopted mommy. And what’s more, in Hickman’s words, his story is just beginning.

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