Sisters Kylene and Kaitlyn are avian rescuers

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Pat Van Dyke Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Pat Van Dyke
Columnist, The Friday Flyer

If anyone wants to know anything about any bird that resides or migrates through Canyon Lake, the Evans sisters have the answer. Twelve-year-old Kylene is well on her way to becoming the prime ornithologist of our area with her 11-year-old sister, Kaitlyn, not far behind. What Vick Knight was to turtles, Kylene and Kaitlyn Evans are to birds.

Kylene, known to many in Canyon Lake as an accomplished harpist, not only raises birds, but she also rescues them. Her first rescue was a barn swallow that she found drowning at Indian Beach. She lovingly cared for Comet, until she found a home in a bird refuge for him. (The girls always name each bird that they rescue to give them an identity.)

This was followed by a rescue of two crows. The first crow, Harley, was fed pureed blueberries and bananas through a syringe. But despite the valiant efforts of the girls, Harley passed on due to broken wings and internal injuries. However, Harley was cared for in an amazing fashion. He slept in a warm bed with a stuffed lamb beside him. The next crow, Blackberry, found at Moonstone Beach, was given the same wonderful treatment.

Presently, two finches, Emma and Rocky, who were discovered in a tree in the Evans’ Canyon Lake backyard, take most of the girls’ attention. When Kylene first saw the finches, she immediately noticed that their eyes were crusted and both were blind. She did research and discovered that they could be treated with organic eye drops. Every day, Kylene bathes them in Eye Bright and trains them; and, as a result, they have become “house birds” along with three parakeets and a cockatiel.

The rescue of which the girls are most proud is one that occurred in Ocean Marina. While visiting the area, Kylene noticed that a baby egret was crying down by the rocked-filled shoreline. Kylene, Kaitlyn, and two cousins hurried over the rocks and attempted to catch the bird. The egret reacted poorly to the group until Kylene spoke softly and climbed slowly over the rocks.

The egret, which Kaitlyn named Karly, welcomed Kylene’s care and soon was in her arms.  Because the Evans lacked the ability to house such a large bird, Animal Control was called. While waiting for animal control to pick up the egret, others tried to comfort the bird, but it would attempt to peck out their eyes. The only person whom the bird trusted was Kylene.

After Animal Control left, a deckhand on one of the fishing boats came over and complimented the girls for their care of the baby egret. He stated that the bird fell out of its nest, which was 40 feet above the dock, four days earlier and, until then, the egret had not allowed anyone to be near it. He was astonished how the bird responded so positively to Kylene.

Kylene’s love for birds began when she was 6 years old. Two house finches had built a nest under the eaves of their Canyon Lake home. Kylene asked her mother for bird feed and soon found two mallards also eating the food. The mallards compensated for the bird feed by laying eggs in the Evans’ planters.

But it wasn’t until Kylene was 10 years old that the birds became a very important part of her life. When asked why she is now so dedicated to rescuing birds, Kylene says, “Actually the birds have rescued me. Before my 10th birthday, I started getting anxiety attacks. After seeing a counselor, she suggested when I felt one coming on to focus on something else. I would say a prayer and get my bird book, The Sibley Guide to Birds, and would start reading about all the different birds in the U.S. I memorized all the names, markings, and sounds of the birds in California. This really helped me in learning to focus on something else besides my anxiety.“

Watching Kylene approach a bird is amazing. She talks softly, walks slowly and reaches out her hand to stroke the bird lightly. Even the geese at Sunset Beach have a love for Kylene.  Whenever she visits, the geese rush up to her knowing that they are going to be fed, hugged and loved.

Kaitlyn is quickly following in her sister’s footsteps. In school, both she and Kylene are taking a zoology course entitled “Flying Creatures of the 5th Day.”

Kylene and Kaitlyn’s parents, who are 11-year residents of Canyon Lake, are very supportive of their daughters’ care and concern for the birds of Canyon Lake. Michelle helps prepare the meals for the recovering birds while Larry entertains them. Most recently, Larry taught Mango, the cockatiel, to whistle the beginning of The Star Wars Imperial March.

When both girls were asked about future plans, Kylene said she would love to become an avian veterinarian. She also would like to be a missionary and use her harp to further her ministry. Kaitlyn desires to continue to rescue birds along with her sister, but she is also interested in becoming a better gymnast. The fact that Kaitlyn’s own parakeet Kiki is trained to perform gymnastic tricks is not surprising.

Their amazing ability to care for the birds of Canyon Lake, which makes it a better place to live, makes both Kylene and Kaitlyn “Unsung Heroes.” But Kylene “downplays” their part in this process. Instead she says, “I believe God gave me these birds as a gift to help bring peace in my life, and I hope that I can give back what they have brought me.”

In the future, the sisters would like to be able to rescue more and larger birds, but they lack the needed outdoor aviary and large cage. Hint: Anyone who has an aviary or large cage that they are not using and would like to donate, please email patvandykeff@gamil.com.

Unsung Hero

An “unsung hero” is a person who makes his or her home or neighborhood a better place to live. They are known by their simple acts of kindness, commitment, courage and love. An unsung hero could be your next door neighbor or a person you met at a local park or community event. The Friday Flyer would like to feature such people in a new series by Pat Van Dyke, “Canyon Lake’s Unsung Heroes.” Readers are encouraged to make recommendations for this series by emailing Pat at patvandykeff@gmail.com.

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