Lark Sparrow on Antelope Island during the breeding season – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this post about an imprisoned Lark Sparrow I heard about on a Facebook group that is about identifying birds but after mulling it over I decided I’d tell the story.
A woman in central Texas posted two images of the same bird in two separate posts to the group, one was the photo of a young chick earlier this spring and the other was taken several months later of the older bird in question was in a cage. The woman posted this with the photo of the young chick:
This is the precious baby bird we hand raised after rescuing her from a chihuahua. We live in central Texas. She is the light of our family! She had just bathed in this picture. What is she? We have thought sparrow but I’m not 100% sure.
I won’t post the photos because I believe in copyrights, the photos of the bird belong to her and only she has the right to decide where they are posted or shared.
So between the two images I was certain of the ID, it was a Lark Sparrow, a species of bird that is protected by the MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act).
I replied to the woman’s query something to the effect of “Unless you are a licensed rehabber it is illegal to keep this bird” and my comment opened a can of worms for some of the people commenting on the post.
The woman’s reply to me:
We already talked to the game warden about it and we are fine. But thank you for your concern
Should I have just let the dog eat her? We spent hours around the clock feeding her and making sure she was getting everything she needed.
It was great of the woman to rescue the chick from the dog, it really was and that should be commended but after that the best thing for the bird would have been to make sure the dog was confined and to release the sparrow where it was found because the adults were probably nearby.
Then some guy named Mick told the original poster to “Ignor Mia. She is obviously an angry women.”, that guy also got testy with some of the other people commenting that she needed to get the bird to a rehabber. I was just the first person to comment that it was illegal to keep the Lark Sparrow in captivity, other people talked about the MBTA, that it was best for the bird but this woman was having none of that.
She has been with us for almost 5 months. The game warden said most rehabber don’t do baby sparrows or grackles etc, because they are such a pain to raise.
If the game warden did say that they may need to look into that misinformation more carefully. Sometimes though game wardens know far more about the species that are hunted than those who are not.
She is our baby. She loves us so much and sings so happily. She loves to ride our shoulders. And peck our teeth. We always say she wants to be a dentist Thank you.
Despite pleas from others to take the bird to a rehabber, the woman doubled down.
If you would like to turn me in to the game warden be my guest. I have his info. Would you like it?
Then someone named Chrissy called me an idiot and got banned by one of the admins later.
One of the other knowledgeable people commenting stated that it was probably too late, the bird was imprinted, lacked fear of humans and wouldn’t be releasable. She of course was correct, it was too late.
The woman that had the captive Lark Sparrow simply stated:
She isn’t going anywhere. Not going to happen.
So that Lark Sparrow will not fly free, it will not breed, will not forage for its own food, it will not be with its own kind. It may well live out the rest of its life as a “pet” that should never have been caged.
It is so easy with the internet now days to simply type “I found a baby bird” into a search engine and find tons of helpful information. Just that step alone could have helped this woman decide what to do ethically and legally, there are even handy charts that can help people make informed decisions on what to do after finding a baby bird. I wish the woman who has imprisoned the Lark Sparrow would have seen that chart because the outcome of this story could have been, or may have been, happier and so much better for the bird.
Maybe someone finding a baby (I dislike calling them babies) bird will find this post in years to come and will make the right choices for the good of the bird they find.
My thanks go to the other people involved who tried to get the woman to take the bird to a rehabber.
PS, that post was deleted by the admins of the Facebook group, I can’t point you to it. The woman who has the sparrow blocked me on Facebook and I am really okay with that.