May 20, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 16 June 2011 11:14
This is the season when young birds of all kinds — from babies to fledglings — may be found on the ground.
Wyn Lydecker of Darien spotted a fledgling Blue Jay next to her driveway recently and called the Darien Nature Center to see what to do.
“They said to leave the bird alone, if it was in the shade,” she said. “The center told me that this is the time of year that the mother birds are pushing the babies out of the nest and that the mama would know where her baby bird was and would protect it from predators.
“This morning, the Baby Jay was still hopping around the driveway. I hope it learns to fly soon and that the neighborhood cats don’t get it.”Wildlife in Crisis, the wild animal rescue organization based on Weston, has these observations if you find a baby bird that is pretty much helpless:
* If you are looking at a newborn bird, put it back in the nest if possible.
* If no nest is visible, hang a woven stick basket on nearby branch.
* Baby birds need to be fed every half-hour throughout day, so you need to act quickly. (The parent birds will likely feed the bird in your basket nest.)
If, like Wyn, you’ve found a fledgling bird that is fully or mostly feathered:
* Look around for parent birds overhead. They are probably coaching their offspring.
* Many species of birds learn to fly from the ground up and should be left alone.
* If cats are in the area, you can place the fledgling bird in a woven stick basket and place it off the ground where parent birds can still access their baby.
If none of this applies to your situation, contact one of the wildlife rehabilitators listed at the end of this column each week.
Incidentally, one of the longstanding myths about birds is that if you touch a baby, its parents will abandon it because it’s tainted with human scent.
Our friends at BirdWatchers Digest (birdwatchersdigest.com) published an article by Eirik A.T. Blom, debunking of this myth.
“Think about the thousands of studies that involve monitoring nests, weighing and measuring the young,” he wrote. “Consider that most of those nests are successful and that the adults return as soon as the intruders are gone. Factor in the millions of baby birds that are banded and fledge successfully. Remember the tens of thousands of bluebird boxes.
“If birds were repelled by the scent of human beings and fled if their odor appeared on the nest, there would be wholesale abandonment of nests every year. Yet this myth persists, a ‘truism’ handed down from generation to generation.
“Its origins may lie in the fact that human scent can be disruptive to birds’ nesting success. It is not birds, it is mammalian predators that follow scents, and if you approach a nest too often, or too closely, you may well be leading a predator to the site. The next time you visit, the nest will be abandoned. Voila! The birds smelled you and ran.
“There are very good reasons for staying away from bird nests. Birds may find your intrusiveness offensive for many reasons, but one of them is not the way you smell.”
Jason Kessler of Ridgefield was interested in Ben Oko’s recent account of the bird-a-thon with Bent of the River Audubon that saw or heard 148 species in less than 24 hours. Jason is a filmmaker who produced the documentary Opposable Chums (opposablechums.com) about the World Series of Birding. The film has been shown on PBS and has won many awards.
“Patrick Comins and Ken Elkins, the leaders of the bird-a-thon that Ben Oko participated in, are both veterans of the World Series of Birding, the most renowned competitive birding event in the world,” Jason said. In making the documentary, “I got to see up-close what astounding experts they are. If anyone can maximize total numbers of birds identified, it’s Patrick and Ken and, indeed, the total Mr. Oko reports bears that out. Bent of the River is harboring some serious expertise.”
Norwalk Island Birdwatching Cruises, aboard the C.J. Toth Quest ferry, with guide, Sundays, June 26, July 10, July 24, Aug. 7, Tuesday, July 12, Saturday, July 30, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.; adults, $22, kids, $12, Norwalk Seaport Association, from ferry dock at Water and Washington Streets, South Norwalk, seaport.org, 203-838-9444.
Copyright 2011 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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