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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Just an “old wives’ tale” that really means ”don’t get dirty”


 

 

I was watching a kids’ cartoon show on TV the other day (yes, I have grandkids). One of the fables that was taught by a supposedly-wise old owl (with an English accent) was that humans’ shouldn’t touch or handle a bird’s eggs or babies. Only another bird can so this.   WRONG on so, many levels!

For one thing, most birds have little or no ability to smell, and would have great difficulty smelling a human’s old fingerprint.   This observation would also apply to to another species of bird too (if a Cowbird touched a baby Bluebird, for instance). Also, a parent bird would appreciate your moving a bird to safety, instead of seeing it (for example) run over by a car. Sometimes it’s necesary and wise to move a baby bird (“fledgling”) to a safe location.  Just make sure the new location is nearby, because a parent bird is almost certainly watching from a nearby perch,  ready to feed or instruct if needed.

A fledgling bird should not be “kidnapped”, taken back to tour house for instance. Very often, baby birds are on the ground and cannot fly for a few days on purpose. The parents are teaching it to fly and seek food on their own;  it’s called “growing up”.  And adult birds do a much, much better job of teaching this than you or I.  

The overall lesson is this:  if you spot a fledgling on the ground in a dangerous place (like in the road) don’t hesitate to pick it up and move it to a nearby, safe location. Most of the time, however, just leave it where it is, knowing that a parent bird is close by watching for danger, which includes “kidnapping” by a well-meaning human.

 

Wall-to-wall rain, and how it affects our birds.  For the most part, our constant and abundant rain has almost no affect on birds. They adapt very well.

Eastern Meadowlark
An extreme but infrequent example is ground-nesting birds such as meadowlarks and killdeer. Particularly the ones who chose to nest in low areas probably got washed away. Adult birds could just fly away but the fledglings and eggs met a similar fate to having their nesting grounds bulldozed for a parking lot, housing subdivision , shopping center and such.

Killdeer
Actually all the rain wakens dormant seeds, and translates into more and bigger plants. Followed by more food and shelter. Temporarily however, most of the natural nest material is wet and waterlogged. So I simply put small twigs and pieces of string or yarn (no longer than 3”) in shallow bowl, and put it outside, under an overhang.

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.

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