Baby birds on the mend
Local shelter to look after six wild birds until able to survive on their own
Gander shelter to look after birds until they are grown
GANDER, N.L. – Nestled together in a bed of sawdust, six starling chicks appear content with their new surroundings.
That is until Bonnie Harris, shelter manager for the Gander and Area SPCA, moves in to offer a snack on July 11.
Immediately, the chicks spring to life chirping, hungry for something to eat.
Harris called them hearty birds, feeding every hour on strains of wet cat food.
“I’d say they have eaten a can and a half since we took them in,” she said.
With bellies full, the chirping subsides as they settle down for a nap.
The invasive – non-native – species came into the SPCA’s possession, July 9, after being dropped off anonymously by an area resident who found the chicks in the vent of their home.
Harris estimates the chicks to have been between eight to 10 days old, as they have flight feathers coming in.
The shelter will keep the chicks until they are able to fend for themselves.
“They do imprint on humans, so we try to handle them as little as we can, because the more you handle them the more attached
they become,” Harris said.
Because it’s not a case they take on very often, she assumes it will be at least a month before they are ready to leave the SPCA’s care.
“When they get older we will put them in an outside enclosure,” she said, adding it will allow the birds to be able to develop survival skills.
This isn’t the first time the SPCA has stepped in to assist wildlife, as it has cared for moose calves, owls and other wild creatures in the past.
“It’s not something we want to be doing, but when its placed in front of you, you do what you
can do to help,” said Harris.
And removing young birds from an area altogether isn’t something the SPCA is recommending. Instead, Harris suggested, setting up an alternate nearby location, because “wildlife needs to be in the wild”. If a species has to be moved, she recommends using a birdhouse, so the mother can still find her young.
The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is in agreement with the SPCA’s recommendation.
“In many cases, removing wildlife can do more harm than good, be it an injured adult animal or what appears to be abandoned young,” said a Department issued statement. “Anyone finding an injured or abandoned young animal should leave the animal where it is.”
With respect to young animals, the Department indicated, a parent may have specifically placed the young in that particular location and may not return if the area is noisy, or if predators or people are close by.
“Relocating animals that are considered nuisance, such as birds nesting in vents, bats in your attic, or squirrels getting into your car or shed and causing damage, may require permission prior to relocation or taking other actions,” read the statement. “If you have concerns with respect to nuisance, injured or abandoned wildlife, contact the nearest Forestry and Wildlife District Office.”
Gander and Area SPCA shelter manager Bonnie Harris feeds one of the hearty starlings, which feed every hour.
Gander and Area SPCA shelter manager Bonnie Harris estimates the six chicks should be strong enough for release into the wild.
Six starling chicks are in the care of the Gander and Area SPCA. They were dropped off on July 9, by an anonymous person, who discovered the chicks in a house vent.