Koh Tao, Thailand
Mien was just a tiny, newly hatched chick when locals brought her to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic in Koh Tao, Thailand. She was very weak and could not stand. The people who brought her to the clinic believed that the little hatchling fell from her nest. It also appeared that she broke the upper part of her beak, making her beak shorter.
The survival rate for such a young chick without her mother is quite low, and hatchlings like this require a huge amount of care to have any chance of survival. I knew that this little hatchling would need feedings every thirty minutes and constant attention – like she would get from her mother in nature. It would be a big undertaking, but I was prepared to do whatever I could to save the little bird. The team and I named her Mien, and from then on, she came with me everywhere in a little nest I built for her inside a cat carrier.
Without her mother, Mien relied on me for everything – from food and water to protection and care. She wakes me up at sunrise for food and goes to sleep at sunset. If we are busy spaying or neutering cats and dogs, Mien just starts peeping to let me know that she’s hungry.
I soon found Mien a real nest. I saw it in town one in town at a jewellery shop. The shop owner told me her son found the empty nest, and so she needed to ask him if I could have it for Mien. I returned the next day and her son agreed to give it to Mien. She is very happy with it!
Mien improved and grew rapidly as I maintained the 30 minute feeding schedule. She quickly took to sitting on my shoulder and cuddling into my neck. We would eat breakfast together, go to the clinic together, and even going to the beach together!
As Mien gets stronger, she now spends some of her day in a soft-release cage next to a tree. The cage is there from when Jae and Nai, our local partners from Noistar Animal Clinic, raised another hatchling. After being hand-raised, it is important that a bird is able to adjust to living in the wild in a controlled and protected manner. A hand-raised hatchling will spend some time in a cage in nature with food and water available. Once they are accustomed to this and are strong enough, they enter the “soft-release” period where the cage is opened so they can leave, but there is still food for them in case they need it. The last hand-raised hatchling was successfully released to living in nature again. She can often be seen around the clinic, and remembers Nai, who cared for her, and gets excited when she sees him.
Mien is becoming more and more comfortable in nature and will eventually also be released. Until then, I will continue to care for her until she is strong enough and able to care for herself.
P.S. We have spayed and neutered 231 cats and dogs since launching Operation Chumpon Champion on Koh Tao, Thailand. It isn’t too late to support this important effort to control the dog and cat population here and protect the vital nesting grounds for turtles and birds. Please support our campaign by donating here.