March 20th is the first day of spring this year. Several things will begin to happen on, or about, that day: gas powered yard tools will be put to use for the first time in months, new plants and seeds will go into the ground in all manner of settings, and baby birds will start falling out of nests. Do you know what to do or whom to call if you find an injured or orphaned bird? Placing a call to our very own Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue (“GCWR”) at 979-849-0184 will put you in touch with an expert who will ask several very important questions before making suggestions or taking any action. Why the “20 questions” you ask? Read on! First, let me give you a bit of the back story. A fully-feathered, almost-ready- to-fly, baby bird is called a fledgling. Almost all fledglings need some time to practice using their wings before taking to the air. Think of it in human terms; our babies learn to crawl and pull up on things before they walk, right? Why would birds be any different? Some fledglings, like Mockingbirds and Killdeer, practice on the ground. These babies learn to run, hide, hop and flap their wings and it is these actions that draw our eyes. Some baby birds practice high above our heads in their trees and out of our sight. Where the fledglings practice their pre-flight skills depends on the species of bird. Naked baby birds have a different set of needs than fully-feathered fledglings. Sometimes a permitted bird rehabilitator will want to take a look at the bird to confirm there are no injuries or illness before making a recommendation. Adult birds also spend some time on the ground, and determining their needs is different from that of babies or juvenile birds. All the above and other circumstances too numerous to mention here, necessitate our “20 questions” routine. Your observations and careful consideration of the questions being asked will be critical in determining whether or not the bird needs to be rescued. Not all birds on the ground need help, but a bird that cannot, or will not fly, deserves your attention and warrants a call to the caring volunteers of GCWR. When you call GCWR please listen carefully to the instructions given on the machine, and follow them as closely as possible. Wait for the beep and then speak slowly and very clearly while giving your name and call-back number before beginning your message. Prior to hanging up, please state your name and phone number a second time. You would be surprised how often static on the line distorts a portion of the call-back number and slows response time. The volunteers at GCWR appreciate your concern for our feathered neighbors. Your intervention on behalf of a bird that may need to be rescued is critical for a successful recovery and eventual release back into the wild. Thank you for caring enough to call. Lynnette is also a volunteer for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory as well as a dedicated volunteer for Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue.
By: Lynnette Brooks