Yoga studio owner raises baby bird

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published June 29, 2022

 Nugget sits on Daniel Carpenter’s shoulder.

Nugget sits on Daniel Carpenter’s shoulder.

Photo provided by Daniel Carpenter

 Nugget is wrapped in a blanket shortly after being recovered.

Nugget is wrapped in a blanket shortly after being recovered.

Photo provided by Daniel Carpenter


MOUNT CLEMENS — It is not every day that life falls in your lap, but that is essentially what happened to Daniel Carpenter.

“I was out walking my dog, Bodhi, and he saw her first,” Carpenter, owner of the Mount Clemens-based Bodhi Seed Yoga and Wellness Center, said.

Her, in this case, was a baby bird lying on the pavement outside Carpenter’s yoga studio.

“She was a little featherless nestling that fell out of the nest, I assume,” Carpenter said.

Having encountered young birds fallen and stranded on the ground before, Carpenter looked to find the nest from which the bird must have fallen. Unable to locate the nest, Carpenter decided to take action. He picked up the bird, brought it into the studio, wrapped it in a blanket and began looking up how to care for a baby bird.

“[Caring for the bird] kind of needed to happen,” Carpenter said. “The only other choice was to let it stay outside and die. It was completely helpless. There were no feathers, it couldn’t even move, it couldn’t even stand up. It was brand-new out of the egg, I assume. The only other option was too unpleasant to consider. I took her in and decided to see what I could do for her.”

After finding the bird, Carpenter fed the young starling — which he named “Nugget” — a mix of canned dog food and water until she began growing feathers. Carpenter figured out how to raise Nugget with the help of online information.

During the time in Carpenter’s care, Nugget and Bodhi — the dog that first stumbled upon Nugget — developed a kind of rapport.

“Bodhi didn’t know what to do at first, just having the little bird in the basket,” Carpenter said. “He got used to it pretty quick. He’s not aggressive at all, but he’s like, ‘I don’t know what this thing is and what to feel or do about it,’ but over time he’s gotten more comfortable (with Nugget).”

Sometimes, when Carpenter takes Bodhi outside the studio, Nugget will land on Bodhi, much to the dog’s chagrin.

“If he’s sitting, she’ll land on him and they’ll just chill out,” Carpenter said. “They don’t seem to mind each other at all. Nugget doesn’t care, but Bodhi is very kind with her.”

With Nugget now in flying condition, the starling still spends time around the yoga studio when not attending to avian matters.

“She has been outside on her own all day, every day for about the last almost two weeks (as of June 16),” Carpenter said. “Right now, the routine is that I get here in the morning, and she is usually here waiting for me, waiting for some food. I come in, I teach class, I come back out after class, after an hour or so.”

Carpenter says Nugget has quite the appetite, flying by for food nearly every hour. Carpenter’s world-famous dog-food-and-water mix supplements Nugget’s diet of wild-caught insects and berries.

“She is starting to be self-sufficient, which is ideal,” Carpenter said. “I don’t want her to be completely dependent on me. My intention was to help her out and give her the time she needed to grow and fend for herself. It seems like it is settling into a routine where she is going to be around, hanging out, and I am willing to keep feeding her.”

According to Grace Vatai, executive director and naturalist at Wild Wings Bird Rehabilitation, in Hazel Park, there are several steps people should take when they come across a baby bird on the ground. One of the first things to determine is if the bird is a fledgling, which means it has wings on it.

“Fledglings are usually feathered and can hop, walk, or fly a short distance,” Vatai said via email. “The mother and father bird will continue to feed the fledgling as it learns to navigate the world outside the nest. Taking these birds away from mom and dad is a very common mistake people make.”

If the bird is not a fledgling and is not injured, then Vatai recommends people return the bird to the nest. But if the bird is injured or cold, people should secure the bird in a well-ventilated container and call a wildlife center like Wild Wings.

Vatai also cautions against taking in wild birds as pets, as there are state and federal laws against owning some species.

As far as things between Nugget and Carpenter go, Carpenter sees the starling heading out on its own in the future.

“I would like to see her to be completely self-sufficient,” Carpenter said. “I’ve got a bird feeder out there; I’ve got a birdhouse in case she feels willing to utilize it. But ideally, she is going to be self-sufficient and … if she wants to migrate in the winter, I hope she feels free to do that. If she wants to keep hanging around and depend on me, then I will keep being there for her.”