Whilst inspecting a property, I found a fledgling or feathered immature bird sitting quietly on top of the remains of a nest. The nest had been dislodged during the recent strong winds.
“I’m sure it’s alright,” I said to the property owner who seemed a bit worried.
“Umm yes, but we have a cat, and there are other FERAL cats around. If it can’t fly, well it’d be better if it was out of harms way.”
I agreed and scooped the bird up, placed it in a shoe box and took it to our local vet. All in a day’s work I thought, feeling pleased that I had rescued a bird. The Treasurer of our Landcare group told how he found two more fledgling birds that had also been blown out of trees on his way to work. He wasn’t sure what to do but leaving them on a busy footpath may didn’t seem right. It seemed many members had similar experiences and really wanted to help our feathered friends.
Our group organised a presentation with “Wildcare”, a wildlife carer organisation. We hoped that they could share their knowledge and best practice approach. Michael from Wildcare explained that many people rescue fledgling baby birds thinking they are doing the right thing but were inadvertently kidnapping them. Bird carers sometimes are swamped in the Spring when storms knock nests and fledglings out of trees. The birds are much better off with their parents as they learn all the important survival skills such as flying food sourcing and predator avoidance. Sometimes the bird is learning to fly and its parents are away looking for food. So placing them back onto a branch or under a shrub so that the parents can find it when they return is the simplest answer. If the nest has fallen or is badly damaged, you can make a baby bird bucket to keep the fledging safe from cats or other birds. This consists of a normal bucket with some holes drilled into the bottom for drainage, some soft material such as the remains of a bird nest placed in the bottom, and a strong stick placed in the bucket to allow the adults to easily get in and out. Then hang the bucket off a tree branch. It’s especially good for birds who have open nests, like magpies, doves, butcher birds or crows. If the bird hasn’t been reunited with its parents before nightfall, then the bird will need to be taken into care.
There are times when you can intervene; if the baby has little or no feathers, the bird is injured or under attack, if you haven’t been able to reunite the bird with its parents or you have rescued it from a dog or cat’s mouth. Birds that raise their young in tree hollows such as parrots, kookaburras and lorikeets are difficult to re-nest and need to be referred to a wildlife carer. Such information was invaluable. Our members now feel more equipped with a plan of what to do if they find a baby bird. Mobile phones have made it much easier and help or expert advice from RSPCA or Wildcare is now just a phone call away!
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