Most wild babies are born in the spring. As the weather warms,
the birds begin to nest. Some nest on the ground or in buildings.
Many nest in trees or shrubs. For this reason, it's a very good
idea to cut trees and prune shrubs before spring.
In the unsettled weather of spring, many song bird nests are blown
out of their trees. If the nest is only slightly damaged and the
young birds are unharmed, the nest can be replaced in its tree and
secured with strong twine. As long as the new nest location
is near the original site, the parents should return to care for
their young. A severely damaged nest can often be tucked
into a strawberry basket and then returned to the tree and secured.
Songbird parents, with their poor sense of smell, will be none the
wiser that you've handled their babies.
|Those best qualified to raise baby birds are parent birds. Song bird babies are naked and helpless at hatching time. They must be kept warm and fed often by their parents. Young birds have very special diets. Some eat seed, some eat insects, some eat a mixture of both. Whatever the baby bird eats has been predigested to some extent by the parent birds. Song bird babies are ready to leave the nest at only 3 weeks of age. At this stage, they are called fledglings. Their bodies are covered with feathers although their tail feathers are very short. Some still have down on their heads. The parents now begin to teach their youngsters how to avoid the many dangers of today's world. The fledglings are clumsy and easily distracted, as are all young things. They may not fly well yet, but they learn quickly or they do not survive. The parents continue to feed their young until they learn where to find their own food.|
|Fledgling birds should be left alone to allow their survival lessons to proceed without interruption. A fledgling found sitting in the street can be tucked away in a nearby shrub; the parents are always close by. If you have cats and dogs, lock them up for a few hours. You should sit and watch the young birds and do so from a distance for about an hour. You will be rewarded by learning first hand some of mother nature's secrets. If you do not see the parent birds, call your wildlife center for further instructions.|
|Baby birds that hatch out covered with feathery fuzz, and able to run and peck at their food immediately, are called precocial birds. They are herded along by the mother and covered (brooded) until they are able to control their own body heat. These youngsters are taught survival and foraging skills by their parents. Ducks, quail, pheasant and killdeer are some of the species that are precocial. Young precocial birds who may seem to be lost and alone usually are not. If left alone, their cries for attention soon bring the worried parent who will hurriedly escort her youngster to safety. Remember to stay back, mother birds know about and fear humans. Again, if the parent bird is not seen for an hour, call your wildlife center for further instructions.|
Nearly all wild birds and mammals are protected under the law.
They may not be taken from the wild and kept as pets or patients
of an inexperienced person. When a wild animal is truly in need
of assistance, it should be taken to a wildlife care facility
holding permits through the Department of Fish and Game and the
U.S. Department of Interior. Wildlife rehabilitators have
received extensive training on the care and feeding of native
wildlife. The process of rehabilitation and eventual release is
more complicated than diet and includes many steps beyond daily care.
Unless you are an experienced rehaber, there is great danger in offering any food or water to a young wild bird. Each species has different dietary requirements which must be met in order to insure survival. A drink of water can drown a young bird. Cow's milk can cause intestinal problems in wild birds and mammals.
REMEMBER: Your wildlife center has a staff of people who are knowledgeable in the field of wildlife rehabilitation. They are dedicated and trained to raise a young wild creature so it can be given its freedom and make a successful release into the wilds.
A power greater than our understanding has created the wealth and beauty of nature as we perceive it. Let us all treat wildlife with the awe and reverence it deserves.
Nan Pipestem Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
P.O. Box 2244
Hollister, CA 95024
Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center
P.O. Box 1105
Morgan Hill, CA 95038