Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jay Fledgling

When we came home on Friday night, I looked out our back door and saw this:

I know it's difficult to see, so what if I zoom in:

There are a few rules one should follow when dealing with baby birds. 
  1. Do not freak out about "getting your scent on them."  Birds have a horrible sense of smell.  The only birds that have a developed sense of smell are those that eat carrion.  Even then they won't kick a baby out of a nest just because it smells like human.
  2. Grounded Fledglings (baby birds with feathers) are just babies who have flown the coop too early.  The parents will take care of the grounded baby until it can fly (which will usually be within a day or so of when it left the nest).  The biggest problem with these babies is that they can't get away from predators - if you find them on the ground but don't have a cat problem, they'll probably be fine to be left where they are.  If you have a cat problem (and maybe a raccoon problem as well), move them to a place where the predators are less likely to get to them - a bush or a higher branch.
  3. Grounded Nestlings (baby birds without feathers) are babies that have fallen (or were pushed by a rambunctious sibling) out of the nest.  These are the babies that should be put back in the nest - if there is no nest, fashion a nest out of a margarine tub or something and try to get it as close to the nest as you can.
I left the little bird alone and kept an eye out to see if any parental types came by - hoping that they would manage to get the baby flying - or at least flying enough to get to higher ground.  By 9 pm, I hadn't noticed any parents, and it was getting cold and dark; furthermore, being on a low perch when our yard is cat central is not a safe spot for a baby bird.  I made a little makeshift windbreak nest out of a cardboard box for the bird and tried to get him into it.  He would have nothing to do with it and instead perched himself on my arm.

So now I had a bird on my arm with no indication that he wanted to leave.  I offered food and water (didn't want either), and then I managed to convince him over a 20 minute span of time that being on the trellis on the deck amongst the vines would be a better place for the night than my arm.

At 6:45 the next morning I got up and went to check on little Jay.  I couldn't find him, but found the pile of droppings he left behind and initially was really happy.  That is, until I noticed that my cat was gnawing on something*.  When I pulled her away from her tasty treat, I saw that it was the wing tip of a baby jay bird.  Based on the jays coming to the yard a little later, I think the mom and/or dad did find the little jay and were bringing food to it, but unfortunately one of the feral cats in the neighborhood got to it.  Sadly, one of the parents came by right after I discovered this and spent a good 10 minutes flying around looking for the missing baby - first checking the spot where he was last (in the trellis), then checking out the spot where I found him, then going back to the first spot and looking along the ground, checking both sides of the fence.

Rest in peace little Jay Fledgling.

* I know my cats weren't the perpetrators since they were inside all night with me.  But yes, the cats are indoor/outdoor and I know they shouldn't be.  They usually go after lizards (both), mice/rats (Ivy), and birds who have flown into the window (also Ivy)


dm said...

He was so cute. =/ I can't even imagine how terrifying that must have been for him. And maybe for you? I would have been frantic. haha
Thanks for sharing the info about what to do if a baby bird does get grounded.

Ally said...

Poor little birdie. Mean, naughty kitty.

On a related note, I came across a big pile of feathers today in the garden. I think a hawk maybe got a dove. It's a rough world out there.

Lancashire rose said...

Truthfully I am glad we don't have the jays back this year. They stole the cardinal fledglings from the nest one year and the doves another. Saw one flying off with one in its beak. It's a bird eat bird world.