Baby birds

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Regional Extra - Ju­lia Smith, Wan­garatta Ve­teri­nary Clinic

THE sun is shin­ing, the birds are singing – and the ba­bies are out!

In spring and sum­mer we of­ten see a lot of baby birds brought into the clinic.

We love that there are peo­ple out there look­ing out for our wildlife, but some­times th­ese birds might just be tack­ling their ‘first steps’. “I can see a baby bird on the ground. “What do I do?” Firstly, un­less it is in ob­vi­ous or im­me­di­ate dan­ger (for ex­am­ple on a road or be­ing stalked by a cat) watch from afar.

This will give you a chance to get an idea of what kind of bird it is, and whether mum and dad are hang­ing around keep­ing an eye on things.

There are two dif­fer­ent types of birds – pre­co­cial and al­tri­cial.

Pre­co­cial birds are ready to go from the day they are born, they are cov­ered in down and have their eyes open, they can feed them­selves soon af­ter they hatch. Of­ten their nests are on the ground. Th­ese in­clude duck­lings, plovers, brush tur­keys and swamphens.

Al­tri­cial birds are born with­out feath­ers or down, their eyes closed and are com­pletely de­pen­dent on the par­ents for warmth and food.

Th­ese birds are of­ten in nests up in trees and bushes, and in­clude hon­eyeaters, par­rots, pi­geons, in­sec­ti­vores, car­ni­vores and rap­tors.

If the bird you find is feath­er­less, it will need care from its par­ents to keep it warm.

If the bird is sick or in­jured, or if you know its par­ents are dead then it will need to be taken to your vet or wildlife carer for care.

If you can see a nest nearby and the baby ap­pears healthy, you can put it back into its nest.

If it has con­sid­er­able down or feath­ers and you know the par­ents are nearby but you can­not reach the nest, you can put them into a makeshift nest made out of a bucket, with a branch for ac­cess in and out, drainage holes in the bot­tom, and leaves and sticks in­side (see web­site be­low for more in­for­ma­tion).

Fledglings are birds that have just left the nest and are learn­ing to fly.

They of­ten will fall out or seem to be flut­ter­ing around on the ground.

Fledglings have a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of adult look­ing feath­ers, not just down.

The par­ents are of­ten watch­ing from nearby trees.

Fledglings are the birds that are most of­ten ‘res­cued’ when they are in fact not in dis­tress.

If th­ese birds are in dan­ger, place them onto a nearby branch off the ground.

It is a myth that adult birds will aban­don their young if they can smell that hu­mans have han­dled them.

Birds don’t recog­nise their off­spring by smell, in­stead they iden­tify them by their call, so you are not do­ing any harm by putting a nestling back into its nest, or a fledg­ling onto a branch.

For more in­for­ma­tion check out www.wild­care.org.au/Pages/Birds.html which has a lot of great links on it and more in­for­ma­tion on con­struct­ing a makeshift nest, or www.wildlife­vic­to­ria.org.au/faq.

Any birds ob­vi­ously in­jured or un­well should be brought into your vet for an as­sess­ment.

It is a very good idea to make note of where you found the bird, and see if the par­ents are any­where in sight so that if we can re­lease it, we will know where to go.

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