I am sad to say that in my last article (https://www.penbaypilot.com/blog-entry/hatching-nuthatches-egg-fledgling-journey/135105), I was overly optimistic about the fledglings’ future. As I went outside on June twentieth, I saw a baby out of the nest, nearly ten days early. I quickly went back inside, shocked. The bird appeared to be alive and thriving, and the parents continued to feed it. It would hop around on the ground and stretch its wings, maybe hoping it could fly. It was covered in down, but I saw no bare spots on its body. It stayed in my backyard on the twentieth and twenty first, but was gone on the twenty second. I never found any bad signs after that, but also never saw it again. I can only hope that it is safe out in the woods.
On a lighter note, I returned to my house in the afternoon on June twenty eighth to find that all of the birds had successfully fledged! I watched their nest box for about ten minutes, and hearing no noises and seeing no adults, went out to check. The nest was completely flattened, and no longer resembled a nest. I removed the front to clean it and get a better view inside. Nuthatches are one of the few birds that will reuse a nest, and so I did not clean the nest out of the box in hopes that they will return in 2021!
If you find a baby bird on the ground, your instincts might tell you to pick it up and bring it home. Please don’t! The first thing to do when you find a baby bird on the ground is to determine if it is a nestling or a fledgling. Nestlings will not be completely feathered and will look completely helpless on the ground. Fledglings will be fully feathered and alert. If you have found a fledgling, don’t worry! The parents will continue to care for the fledgling after it leaves the nest until it can fly, so it’s best to leave it be. Things you can do to help it include keeping pets indoors and moving it to a branch out of harm’s way. If you determine that the bird is a nestling, try to find its nest and put it back. If the nest is destroyed, make a new one and place the bird gently inside of it. Contrary to popular belief, parents will not reject the bird because it smells like a human. If it is injured, you have found both of its parents dead, or you are positive it has been abandoned, call a local wildlife rehabilitator. Unless you have a license, it is illegal to raise native birds. Please remember to act in the best interest of the birds!