Saving baby birds

Spring has sprung and with that comes nesting season for the many species of birds that inhabit the Cayman Islands.

This is also the time of year when Cayman Wildlife Rescue is flooded with calls about baby birds that have apparently fallen out of their nests.

‘It is very important that the public take a moment to observe baby birds before assuming they need to be rescued,’ said Alison Corbett, project manager with Cayman Wildlife Rescue.

Concerned members of the public are encouraged to first identify whether the bird is injured, as fallen nestlings and fledglings often are attacked by cats and dogs. If the bird is injured Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be contacted at 917-BIRD (2473) as the bird will require emergency veterinary care. If the bird is not injured, but is unable to fly the next step is to determine whether it is a nestling or a fledgling.

Nestlings are bare or covered in downy feathers. When you have found a nestling on the ground, look for a nest nearby. If there is a nest, the bird can be gently placed back inside the nest and then it should be monitored at a safe distance for the parents to return. ‘There is no truth in the old wives tale that a bird will reject their young if you handle them – in fact most birds have a very poor sense of smell,’ said Corbett.

If no nest is present or the nest has been destroyed, a replacement nest can be fabricated out of a basket or plastic container drilled with drainage holes. Cayman Wildlife Rescue has a tall ladder to assist with restoring fallen nests and nestlings and the public can call 917-2473 for help. Once nestlings have been restored, the nest should be monitored for up to three hours for the parents’ return. People are reminded to never offer a wild animal food or liquids unless instructed to do so. Great care should also be taken at this time of year when pruning trees, shrubs and palm trees so as to not disturb nesting birds.

When the baby bird is a fledgling, in other words a baby bird learning to fly, it will most likely not need to be rescued. These young will be alert and hopping around on the ground as they learn flying skills. Their parents will be nearby, offering them food while they are on the ground.

‘If you find a baby bird, well feathered, hopping on the ground the best thing a person can do is watch from a safe distance. If you have a cat or dog bring it inside and watch for the parents to return,’ said Corbett.

If the bird is not in a safe area, it is best to move it to a shrub nearby and continue to monitor. Fledglings often fall victim to attacks from cats and dogs. If they are injured they will need emergency veterinary care and Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be notified immediately.

‘We strongly encourage responsible pet ownership. Cats and dogs should not be allowed to roam freely for their own safety and also for the safety of our wildlife. One of the most common reasons we see animals come in for care is due to being attacked by cats or dogs,’ according to Corbett.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue’s Hotline 917-2473 is operated 24/7 to provide support for wildlife in trouble and when a baby bird is found Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be contacted for further instruction. Members of the public should not attempt to care for a baby bird, as they require special diets and have demanding feeding schedules. Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be notified when a baby bird is deemed abandoned so an experienced wildlife rehabilitator can resume its care.

About Cayman Wildlife Rescue

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.

This project is staffed entirely by volunteers with other full time jobs, and is financed by donations from the public.

If you would like to help by donating funds or volunteering time, please contact Alison Corbett at [email protected] or visit www.caymanwildliferescue.org

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