British transplant living large in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

When Rachel Spetter came to the United States via the Persian Gulf, she found that serving as a mother of two and a substitute teacher were not enough to fill a longing in her heart. That yearning was fulfilled recently when her husband, Ray, discovered uninvited guests in their attic.

Spetter, British-born, came to Suffolk in October 2002. She spent most of her life in the Persian Gulf with many days devoted to rescuing abandoned pets, and it was perfect preparation for her most recent experience.

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&uot;Many times, cats and dogs were frequently thrown out into the desert and I would rescue them,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;I had many sleepless nights caring for them, but it was always so rewarding when the animals were well enough to go to a new home.&uot;

Once settled into her Smith Street house, Spetter began working as a substitute teacher at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School. Even though she worked most weekdays and attended to the needs of a husband and two children – Morgan and Charlie Mai – Spetter said it didn’t take long for her to realize that something was still missing from her life.

&uot;My hourly, night-time wakeup calls were gone,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;But, I’ve come full circle now because the little creatures my husband, Ray, found in the attic have once again filled every waking hour as well as breaking up my sleep time. Who would believe that four little baby birds could eat so much?&uot;

Spetter said her latest adventure began when her husband went into the attic to check for illegal entry by squirrels.

&uot;We had been having a problem with the squirrels eating into the electric cables so Ray and I have been catching the squirrels and taking them to Colbourn Park on Constance Road,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;We figured they could live out their lives, minus the risk of electrocution. We had the eaves of the house fixed so that the squirrels could not get into the attic, but even though Ray didn’t find any squirrels, he didn’t come down the steps empty-handed.&uot;

Spetter said her husband was holding within his cupped hands a ball of twittering clamor that penetrated the entire house.

&uot;When I looked a little closer, I found the noise was coming from four baby birds obviously bawling for mom,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;With the attic blocked to the squirrels, the mother had also been unable to get to her babies. Thankfully, we got to them in time before they starved to death or became a meal for something else. We never saw the mother.&uot;

The Spetters placed the tiny birds into a container fluffed with wads of tissue. With their new-found dependents, the couple also began in earnest digging up their yard in search of earthworms.

&uot;You would have thought the little birds had never been fed,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;They have no feathers and their eyes are still closed but they know when we have worms for them. More loudly than you can imagine, they begin complaining loudly to be fed.&uot;

Spetter said she used a lamp to keep her chirping &uot;children&uot; at a temperature of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They also waited about four days until the little birds opened their eyes. She said it was obvious that the tiny birds recognized her as mother. She named them Ennie, Mennie Minnie, and Mo.

&uot;My life feels so complete now that I have been able to get back to helping some of the creatures of our world,&uot; said Spetter. &uot;It seemed such a sad start to life for the baby birds, but thankfully, we found them and now we are waiting for the time when they will fly away to make a life on their own. Isn’t this what springtime is all about – sunshine and the wonderful songs of the birds?&uot;

Even though the Spetters will look on with bittersweet emotions as their little family flies off to see the world, they won’t be entirely left &uot;childless.&uot;

They have another foundling, &uot;Molly de’ Cat,&uot; who has quite conscientiously kept a watchful eye on the birds. Molly was a local rescue only two weeks after Spetter came to the States, bringing with her two dogs, Luke and Mock, rescued in the United Kingdom.