‘Mom, I found a baby bird!’

The Nature Lover

‘Mom, I found a baby bird!’By DAN BURNETT

There are thousands of bird nests in Ridgecrest now. Very soon there will be thousands of chicks in the nests. In a few weeks from now, all those chicks will be spreading their wings, jumping around, and getting ready to fledge (leave) the nest. This isn’t always a smooth exodus.

A lot of baby birds fall out of the nest. Very often baby birds attempt to leave the nest just to discover that gravity is stronger than they are. Then some chicks are pushed out of crowded nests by siblings. Of course, as the chicks become more active and move around, every now and then one will misstep and fall to the ground. All of these things happen each and every year, as they have happened for millions of years.

For all these millions of years the parents of fallen chicks have cared for them where they fall or, if they are just too young or too exposed, have let the chicks perish. If the chick is abandoned, the parents will be left with more food to give to surviving chicks or may breed again. Nature is not always nice. This hasn’t changed in millions of years.

The thing that has changed is that now there are fewer wild open spaces, more people, more houses with attractive nest sites and more children than ever before. A child (or adult) may find a baby bird on the ground in the backyard and want to help. But does the chick need human help and is the helpful human prepared to give the help that may be helpful?

So say you or your child finds a baby bird on the ground, what should be done? First watch for a while from a distance to see if the bird’s parents are still caring for it. Many parent birds will feed chicks for a long time after the chicks have left the nest. If a parent isn’t feeding the bird and the nest is accessible, place the bird back in the nest. If the chick isn’t being fed, there is no nest nearby, and you have nothing to do for the next several days and nights you may be tempted to raise the chick. Remember that chicks are fed several times (maybe 20 or so) per day. The food that the chick needs is dependent upon the species of bird. Some birds regurgitate partially digested food into the chick’s open mouth – a difficult task for the helpful human to imitate. Some chicks need raw flesh, some eat seeds and worms. All need protein, calcium, and just the right diet to grow into heathy birds.

Mom and Dad, it is best to just explain to your child that it is natural for some chicks to fall out of the nest and, if left alone, they have a better chance of surviving than if they are taken away from where they are.

Story First Published: 2019-05-24