Fledgling Time and the Summer Solstice!
What is a fledgling? A fledgling is a baby bird that has outgrown its nest, but cannot quite fly yet. Parents will still feed the young out of the nest and even on the ground. This happens with all birds from eagles, hawks, owls and falcons; to little blackbirds, robins, finches and hummingbirds. Depending on the species, baby birds are nearly full size between 3 to 12 weeks, but still have to learn to fly and find food.
Keeping your pets and children away from them is the hard part. Pets may want to eat them and children want to rescue them. The best advice is if they are not in a life threatening situation, leave the fledglings alone. If found in the street or on the sidewalk, pick them up and place them in a nearby tree or bush. It does not have to be the same tree their nest is in, just nearby, so don't worry if you don’t know where the nest is.
June has kept us busy with hummingbirds, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, robins, a pygmy owl, kestrel falcons, coopers hawks, a red tailed hawk and a golden eagle arriving for care. Most of the babies that arrived in May have been released, but more keep coming. Some birds look very similar as babies, so it can be difficult at times to be sure exactly what type of bird we have in our care. This uncertain identity happens among some of the small songbirds, small owls, and among the varied types of doves and pigeons. As the birds get a little older, their identity becomes clear.
In the next month or so we will have some young kestrel falcons, coopers hawks and golden eagles ready for release, so check our Facebook pages regularly for updates. The time between arriving in critical condition, weak or sick or a fledgling, until it is time to release these critters varies quite a bit with each animal, so it is hard to pinpoint an exact date that they will each be ready for release. This is why we often times only have a few days to a couple weeks notice for when a release is coming up. Other times, our Director of Wildlife Services and head wildlife rehabilitator, Martin Tyner, determines that an animal is ready to go and cannot stay in our facilities safely any longer. When this is the case, he will often release them immediately himself, as the welfare of the animals is always our top priority.
The kestrel falcon that came in last January with his right wing feathers so badly damaged that he could not fly, is finally beginning to molt. This means he is dropping a few old and damaged feathers and is in the process of growing new ones in their place. This is a process that happens naturally, usually during the summer months when food is more abundant. It takes a little time as they all do not fall out at the same time. We hope he will be ready for release around the end of July or so.
As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, most of the smaller birds, from finches to robins, are released around the Tyner's home with plenty of trees, bushes, flowers, bird feeders and water for them to enjoy. It is a gradual process, and one we look forward to incorporating into the Cedar Canyon Nature Park around our Visitor Center once it is built, where the public will be able to enjoy seeing more of this process from a distance among beautiful natural habitat.
The baby squirrel that arrived in May was released at the Cedar Canyon Nature Park late in June. It went from being very dependent on us for its survival and nourishment to becoming quite independent and wild within just a few weeks. When they get to this stage, it becomes very clear how much they really do belong in the wild and are not meant to be kept as pets.