What would you do if you found a cracked egg on the ground? Would you leave it there, knowing that whatever was growing inside wouldn’t make it, or would you try and give whatever was inside its best chance at life? Well one woman called Susan Hickman decided that there might be a chance it could survive, and decided to investigate further.
It was the 16th June when she found the egg laying on the ground, an unsure what to do. Not knowing where it had fallen from, or where the mother of this little creature was, Susan did the one thing she thought would be best for the bird – she decided to try and save it herself. From that moment, the real story of Klinger’s life began…
Susan Hickman wrote about Klinger’s story online, starting with the moment she actually found the egg, and realized there was a little bird inside, “As I picked it up, a tiny baby bird began to emerge. I could not return it to a nest because I did not know from where it had come. But I could not, would not just leave it there to die. I had to try.”
It was vital that Susan did everything possible she could to make sure that the little bird survived. She had other friends who had also looked after baby birds before and knew what the best thing to do was…
1. The Newborn Baby Bird
Susan would have to get him into some sort of incubator, where the little bird was warm enough to survive. He was rally clinging on to life here. At this moment, the tiny bird was still alive but needed food and warmth. Susan decided to name the little newborn baby bird Klinger. The moment he was out of his egg shell, she put him in her “makeshift incubator”.
NEXT: But it was absolutely heart-breaking to see this little hatchling…
As Susan wrote on her YouTube channel, “Experienced bird rehabbers warned me that he probably would not survive.” It was a sad truth, and one that Susan realized would most probably be the case.
2. Susan’s Determination
But Susan wasn’t going to give up on the little hatchling! She was determined to do her best to care for this little bird, and give it as much chance of living as every other bird would have had with their own mother bird. There had been no nest around when Susan had found Klinger, and she knew she had to help if Klinger was going to survive…
NEXT: The first night was the most nerve-wracking for Susan…
Of course Susan is only human, so she needed to sleep at some point during the night. She just hoped that when she awoke, Klinger would still be there too.
3. Klinger’s First Night
To Susan’s delight, when she awoke the next day, Klinger was still there in his makeshift incubator in a nest of very soft towels. He looked a little stronger than when he had first came out of his egg shell, but he was still a very fragile little hatchling. His beak was beginning to form, but Klinger had barely grown any feathers yet.
NEXT: The feeding routine for Klinger soon began…
It must have been so tough for Susan to keep on feeding the little bird, as a mother bird’s sole purpose in life would be to gather food for her chicks until they grew old enough to get food themselves.
4. Klinger’s Diet
Susan explained how tough the ritual of feeding time was, as Klinger would need to be given his food every half an hour or sooner throughout the day until nighttime hit. And it turned out that Klinger was a very hungry little bird indeed! According to his new mom, “he never missed a meal!”
NEXT: Day by day, Susan noticed a change in Klinger…
Was it possible that Klinger was going to survive his difficult beginning in life? Would he be strong enough to survive now that he was being properly cared for? Susan hoped so…
5. Klinger Getting Stronger
She noticed that day by day, Klinger was growing stronger and it was wonderful to see. She really held on to that hope for Klinger, and tried her absolute hardest to care for him as much as she could. Things were really looking up for Klinger! It wasn’t long until the baby bird began to grow bigger too…
NEXT: Klinger finally put on some weight since being a hatchling…
As Klinger was being fed so often and was always such a hungry little hatchling, Klinger soon began to grow. Klinger wasn’t just getting stronger, but he was getting bigger as well!
6. Klinger’s Mystery Species
His beak was stronger, his body was better built, and Klinger had began to develop some little feathers on his body. Susan hoped that soon she would be able to discover what type of bird he was once Klinger had grown a few more feathers and developed more features of whatever species he was.
NEXT: Soon the day came where Klinger developed his first set of real feathers!
It had been a little while now, and although he was still a little baby, Klinger began to develop feathers of his own for the first time!
7. A Feathered Baby
Klinger’s little feathers were beautiful and so soft, Susan was over the moon to see that her little chick had really grown into a baby bird at last. Hopefully, if Klinger’s feathers kept on developing, he wouldn’t need to be kept so warm for so long in his makeshift incubator. He would be able to live more like a bird. Once he could see, that was…
NEXT: The day came when Klinger first opened his eyes…
It takes a while for a baby bird to first be able to open their eyes and gather their surroundings, and this would have been the first time Klinger would have ever seen the world.
8. A Beautiful Moment
This was the first time Klinger had seen anything in his life. His first ever sight was inside a house, where his human mom was taking good care of him. Klinger had never ever seen another bird at this point, he only recognised the taste of his food and the sound of Susan’s voice. Now, he would learn where his home was and begin to adapt.
NEXT: Check out what Klinger looked like after a couple of weeks…
It wasn’t long until Klinger’s feathers had fully grown, and it was beginning to get easier to work out what species Klinger might turn out to be.
9. Little Chick
Klinger was still getting bigger and stronger, and it was soon time for Susan to turn to the internet and work out what kind of species of bird Klinger really was. He was no longer a hatchling anymore, Klinger was now a proper chick, soon to become a bird of his own. It was then that Susan discovered his species…
NEXT: So what was species of bird is Klinger?
After doing a bunch of research on the different birds of the area, Susan soon discovered what type of bird Klinger was. He had all the same characteristics of the description for this species…
10. Klinger’s European History
Klinger had a yellow beak that was turning black, blackish-greyish feathers with lighter flecks on his chest. The description found of these birds found in North America – having been brought over from Europe in the 19th Century – was that, like Klinger, they were “stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills.” Klinger was a European Starling bird!
NEXT: It wasn’t long until Klinger grew and no longer needed comfort…
As Klinger grew older, he began to learn how to feed himself from the bowl, and use his beak to peck away at foods of his liking.
11. Klinger’s New Bedroom
Klinger had moved into a cage at last, where he would sleep and have his own room. But being such a tame bird, Klinger was more like a domestic pet that was allowed to flit around the room as he so pleased. Soon, Klinger taught himself how to fly too. He was using his wings at last! But there was something heart-breaking for Susan…
NEXT: Klinger would not be able to be released into the wild…
Sadly for Klinger, he was never going to experience the life of the wilderness, or his natural habitat, having been kept in human civilisation his entire life.
12. Klinger The Domestic Bird
“Although it was my intention to release Klinger into the wild when he was ready, I soon learned this would not be possible,” Susan wrote. “Klinger was raised as an only bird from the day he hatched. A single bird cannot be raised without imprinting on its caretaker.” And Klinger had certainly imprinted on Susan.
NEXT: So what is imprinting and why had this happened to Klinger?
It’s important to know that we learn from the people around us, and the people who care for us. That’s how we learn to live, and how we develop habits based on our upbringing.
13. What Is Imprinting?
“Imprinting is a special learning process which occurs early in life through which an animal develops a sense of species identification,” Susan explains. “There are also many skills that are necessary for survival that parent birds teach their young that I was unable to do. Klinger would likely not have survived had he been released back in the wild.”
NEXT: But this didn’t bother Klinger, who didn’t know any different…
Klinger had loved living at home all his life, and was happy to be a part of Susan’s life. He had his favorite activities and favorite hobbies too.
14. Bath Time
Somehow, Klinger was very happy to do the things that humans did too, like take baths and wash his feathers. in fact, Klinger loved taking baths. He would wash himself in a pet ball that Susan would put in the sink for him and fill with water. Klinger would jump straight in and flap his feathers around in the water.
NEXT: Can you believe that a bird would love the bath so much?
When Klinger was finished having his baths, he would jump onto Susan’s hand when he felt ready. Then he would ruffle his feathers once again to dry himself a little!
15. Mom Helps Him Climb Out
Klinger had really developed his own personality and spirit from living with a human being. He became very interested with objects, and loved seeing how things moved and would love to play. It was like owning a pet dog or cat, certainly not a wild bird!
NEXT: Have a look at Klinger now he’s almost fully grown…
Being a male Starling, Klinger has finally grown all his feathers and has developed all the colors on his body that you would expect of a common Starling bird.
16. Klinger’s Lifespan
What’s even more incredible is Klinger’s amazing curiosity to everything in his life. He’s a friendly and chatty bird who loves to chirp around, and he will probably live for a very long time. The longest ever recorded life of a wild Starling is just over 15 years, which means that with Klinger living in a domestic setting he will probably live longer than that.
NEXT: This is something pretty impressive that you will want to see
Klinger was a playful little bird, and even has a favorite toy – his orange plastic ball. Can you believe that a little bird only a few months old could actually play with a toy?!
17. Growing Up
Well Klinger actually knows how to use his feet and loves to kick it around. Here, he’s posing for the picture, being a few months older than when he was first born. And Susan has looked after him all this time! He’s now a fully fledged member of the family, even with his own toys.
NEXT: Watch little Klinger play football! It’s adorable…
Ever thought a bird could kick around a little ball? With the holes in his plastic ball, it makes it easier for Klinger to pick up the ball with his feet as well as kick it around with his legs.
18. Football Fanatic
I never in my entire lifetime thought that a bird would be able to dribble a ball around across a carpet, but here Klinger is, demonstrating his incredible football skills at just a few months old! There’s no denying that he is a very impressive bird. But where on earth did he develop this skill?
NEXT: Football isn’t the only human skill he’s developed…
Believe it or not, Klinger has developed more human skills than just playing football. Klinger has even learned how to mimic humans by learning how to talk.
19. Klinger Learning
It’s amazing to think that an animal being brought up in a different condition and habitat has learnt to mimic something such as human language. Is it possible that Klinger can understand a few words that Susan says too? Human speech is the only language Klinger has ever been exposed to.
NEXT: Here’s one classic phrase that Klinger has learnt…
If you say something enough to a pet bird that can make noises, especially ones like parrots, they will often pick up the sounds of the words and try and imitate them if they want to communicate.
20. The Chatty Starling
So Klinger trying to talk and learn human phrases is an example of Klinger trying to communicate with Susan, and evidence of Klinger being a very sociable little bird! According to Susan, he often says, “Sidney Green, are you a good bird?” When you hear Klinger try to speak, it is quite incredible…
NEXT: Lastly, Susan can celebrate something for Klinger at last…
Having grown from a baby Starling hatchling to a beautiful fully grown bird, Susan has reason to celebrate. But what’s more, it’s recently been Klinger’s 1st Birthday!
21. Klinger The Star
Susan spoke about keeping Klinger as a domesticated bird and a pet seeing as she couldn’t release him into the wild. He had become too accustomed to life in human society, and depended on Susan too. She wrote, “Fortunately, I live in a state that does not prohibit keeping Starlings as pets. So Klinger will always have a home with me.”
So let’s say a big happy birthday to little Klinger the Starling, who is one year old! As Susan wrote herself, Klinger’s story is really just beginning, and we hope he happily grows and lives on for a very long time with Susan as his owner!