It is almost summertime! Which means school is out, the weather is getting much warmer, and all those baby birds that hatched in the spring are almost full-grown and ready to leave the nest! As bird keepers work hard to give all of our baby birds what they need to leave their nests, we can’t help but notice all of the wild birds around us are doing the same thing! This photo is of a hummingbird nest.
This time of year, we regularly see baby cardinals, brown thrashers, Carolina wrens and even grackles around the Zoo! We have been watching their parents try to steal worms from us all season, and now we see their babies leaving the nest! It is not uncommon to see baby birds that have left the nest, or fledglings sitting on Zoo railings, pathways and fence lines. They look fluffy with their juvenile feathers and lack of a tail. They will find a quiet place to sit, and vocalize to their parents when they are hungry. Even though these birds have left the nest, they still need care from mom and dad until they have the full ability to fly. At this point, their parents will follow the chicks around and feed them.
This rather helpless point is when many people think baby birds are abandoned, and these fledglings will often get dropped off at wildlife rehab centers by concerned and caring citizens. However, there is no need for concern. Wild birds know what they are doing, and the best thing to do for these fledglings is to move them off of busy pathways, or for us, outside of animal habitats! Put these birds as close to where you think their nest is, but on the ground is fine, especially under shrubs where they can get off the ground. If you are lucky enough to see a fledgling in your yard and you are afraid of predators getting to them, my favorite trick is to put them in a shoebox and nail it to the side of a tree or post a few feet off the ground. Mom and dad will find the fledgling and feed it until it’s time to go off on its own.
Lead Keeper, Birds