Woodpeckers and mourning doves, Oh My! It’s that time of year when baby birds seem to hatch overnight. With them come the daily calls to our store asking for assistance with “orphans.” Specifically customers are concerned about three things: abandoned, fallen or hungry baby birds.
Our kind hearts can have devastating results in regards to baby birds. We want to hold, cuddle and protect them like a child. However, has any human child ever walked on the very first attempt? Learning to crawl is part of the education process that our sons and daughters practice before they can walk or run on their own.
For birds, the flying process is also a step-by-step procedure. A baby bird’s first venture out of the nest is always a short flight. The ground will be the eventual destination and this is where many people find these baby “orphans”, right at this point of the learning process.
If the baby bird on the ground has feathers, it already is a fledgling and is supposed to be out of the nest learning survival skills. The parents likely are hovering in a nearby bush, keeping a watchful eye on their offspring as it hops around. This would be a good time to keep your cat indoors.
Even if you haven’t seen the parents near the nest for a while, the nestlings have not necessarily been orphaned. Adults often leave for hours to forage for food. It’s easy to miss their return unless you have the nest within your sight throughout the day.
If the baby bird on the ground is covered with down, it’s a nestling and belongs back in the nest. If you can’t find the nest, it’s ok to substitute a container filled with dried leaves. Put the nestling down in the middle and hang it close to where you found the bird. I like to use an old spaghetti colander as the container. It is easy to fill with grass clippings and yet provides drainage in wet weather. It is strong enough to tie to tree branches and can be reused for future needs.
Do not fear that bird parents will abandon the baby bird due to a human scent. In fact, birds have practically no sense of smell. They have tremendous senses of sight and sound, but smell is just not one of its strengths. The myth about abandonment of baby birds due to human touch was started decades ago to stop children from picking up baby fledglings and bringing them home. Since that time, the myth has become fact for many people and created hardships for baby birds everywhere. Admire the nesting season as it progresses in your backyard from a distance and marvel at nature’s world of birth and wonderment.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.