speaking of being a massive ecology nerd, guess what season it is, folks!
That’s right, it’s FLEDGLING BIRD SEASON here in North America, which means it’s time for an annual reminder that most species of birds have almost no sense of smell. Someone probably told you that if you touch a baby bird, the mother will smell you on it and reject her baby. THAT IS NOT THE CASE.
Pictured: a young Mourning Dove, after being rescued from the tender mercies of my dog, circa spring 2005. It’s a fledgling! Note how it has most of its feathers, but still looks a bit awkward and scruffy, and, being unable to properly fly, can be caught by an elderly husky or a child.
Hatchlings: IF it is covered in fluffy down (or partly naked) and cannot flutter successfully, it’s a hatchling, and has fallen from its nest prematurely. Look for the nest- if you find it and can reach it, return baby and then gtfo and let the parents return. If you can’t find the nest, or if you find it in pieces on the ground, use a small box lined with dryer lint or dog hair or similar fluff and attach as close as possible to where you found the bird or where you think the nest was. Return baby!!!!
Fledglings: If you spot a young bird covered with feathers on the ground, chances are it’s a fledgling (bird tween, can flutter) who is not doing well in flying 101, but it is probably NOT injured or sick. Hanging out on the ground is part of the learning to fly process! If it looks like it’s in immediate danger (i.e. of being run over, stepped on, or eaten by a cat or dog), the best thing you can do for it is to gently scoop it up and place it in the branches of a nearby tree or shrub, and then LEAVE. The parents are likely nearby, and will return once the coast is clear of humans/predators. If it flutter-hops away from you and you can’t catch it, then don’t worry! It just successfully avoided a predator (you), and therefore can probably continue to do so.
DON’T DON’T DON’T: Try to feed it, bring it into your house or car, or take it to your local vet or animal shelter.
IF it IS actually for-real injured, you can catch it and contact a local wildlife rehabilitation professional (and then listen to whatever they tell you), but keep in mind that they get a LOT of fledgling birds, and those birds have a pretty high mortality rate. They may tell you that there is nothing you or they can do but allow nature to take its course, and that’s hard, but important to hear and respect.
Our Baby Bird’s impressive talent that came out as a result of the members’ continuous training over years! Junjin: “I have magnetic hands that catch anything thrown at me thanks to the members’ training.”
This is my friend’s new baby (eyass) northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). He is a captive bred, Russian/Finnish subspecies cross and is 100% ADORABLE. I pretty much screamed with glee every time he did anything.
My friend is a licensed falconer of the general class, so it is legal for her to own and raise this bird. He is destined to be a hunting hawk and under my friend’s care and training, I know he’s going to be one major badass by the beginning of the hunting season this fall. For now he’s wibbly, wobbly, and covered in cotton.
Northern goshawks are sort of the Ferraris of the falconry world. They are fast, extremely agile, and focused, but make a mistake and you will pay big time. They are not forgiving birds and they require very experienced falconers to handle and train them. I’m very excited to watch him grow and watch my friend train him. I want a goshawk eventually, but not until after a lot more experience with more forgiving raptors. I’ve been out hunting with several goshawks, and man, it’s a wonderful and intense experience. Their ability to move through the forest is like watching poetry in sharp, pointy motion.