NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 13, 2013

Often, it's best to leave baby birds alone

Reports of successful nestings and fledged birds are streaming in. Soon the calls will come from people attempting to “rescue” a baby bird.

So now is a good time to repeat my column advising what to do when encountering a baby bird. This is peak nesting season for many species of birds in our area and the sounds of baby birds are everywhere. I hear the sounds of nestlings from their nests, as parents come to feed. I hear different calls from young fledglings, those birds that have recently left the nest, calling to the parent or the parent calling back.

I have also encountered a few fledglings on the ground, hopping about, waiting to still be fed by the parents. Young robins with speckled breasts, little gray catbirds with only 1-inch tails and fluffy little titmice and chickadees, sitting on a branch fluttering their wings to be fed, are some of the young birds I have seen recently. All of these birds have had their parents nearby and, though at first glance one may think they are on their own, the parent soon comes once it is “safe” to feed the young ones.

Young birds often leave the nest before they can fly or fend for themselves. This is part of the training process for surviving on their own. The parent birds are almost always in the area, watching after and defending their young, as well as feeding the fledglings until they learn to feed themselves.

The best advice I can give is to, in most cases, leave these birds alone. First, all birds are protected by state and federal laws, and it is illegal to possess or relocate birds, unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The only exceptions are non-native species: house sparrows, starlings and pigeons. That being said, it is human instinct to want to protect the baby bird.

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