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"If you talk to the animals
They will talk to you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them,
You will not know them,
And what you do not know
You will fear.
What one fears one destroys."
- Chief Dan George

Baby Birds

As a child, I used to “rescue” baby birds and feed them hamburger. They usually died shortly thereafter. You would think I would have learned. Well, this article is about baby birds and how they will survive without much human intervention

Baby birds are classified many different ways but for our purposes we are going  to use “altricial” and “precoccial.”  The meaning of the first one is: birds which are relatively helpless. They are fed by Mom and/or Dad, while they are in the nest. They will leave the nest a week or two  before they are ready to fly. They are not necessarily needing help. They hide under bushes or shrubbery and are fed on the ground by parents who are listening for their calls. Some altricial birds include owls and songbirds. These are the birds often mistaken for orphans in need of help. Before you make a decision to take the bird, wait (unseen) for the appearance of the parent. Usually, within a few hours, parents appear and resume their responsibilities. You can also replace a very  young bird in its nest if you  can find the nest. Don’t worry, it won’t be rejected because of your intervention. Birds have a poorly developed sense of smell. A fallen nest can also be replaced in or near its previous location. Use some fine wire to attach it to a branch. If the nest was destroyed, a small berry basket can be a good substitute, as well as a margarine bowl with holes drilled for drainage. Line the new nest with any of the nest material you can find and again, use fine wire to attach it to a branch. It is a good general rule to remember that birds have the best chance for survival if raised by their parents. If help is needed, call a wildlife rehabilitator.

Precoccial birds are: those who are mobile a few hours after they are hatched. They are also self- feeding, following the parents wherever they go. Some precoccial birds include ducks, killdeer and geese. One interesting fact is that goslings (baby geese) can be adopted out to adult geese other than its parents. Geese cannot count and so if you find a gosling wandering around without parents, find a goose family and quietly put the gosling nearby. It will eventually be gathered up and accepted into the family. This is not the case with ducks. They are very picky. Never put young waterfowl in water without their parents. They have not developed their own waterproofing and will drown. Even if rescued, they often die of exposure.

Because it is often children who bring these young ones home to be cared for, it is important to tell them at an early age to leave baby animals where they are. It is a very good idea to teach children not to approach any wild bird or mammal. Some do carry diseases and others can inflict serious injury
Remember…when in doubt, call a wildlife rehabilitator. A list is maintained by the Department of Environmental Conservation. That number in our area is: Wildlife Office - (585) 226-5460. They are located in Avon, NY.

Submitted by:
Trish Zimmerman






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