Baby birds need help

When the Ching-chings start
dive-bombing unsuspecting tourists walking through George Town, it is clearly
nesting season.

Unfortunately, with nesting season
come baby birds in need of help, and although Cayman Wildlife Rescue makes every
attempt to restore nestlings to their wild families, this is not always
possible.

The organisation is appealing for
volunteers to hand-raise baby birds for release back into the wild.

“Fallen nestlings are a growing
problem mainly due to lack of good nest sites in urban areas. Birds are often
using palm trees which do not provide a good nesting platform. Trees are also
cut back at this time for hurricane preparedness,” said Alison Corbett,
programme manager at Cayman Wildlife Rescue.

“The programme has recently lost
some valued volunteers and is in urgent need of new volunteers who have the
time to hand-rear nestlings. Although we have an extensive volunteer list we do
not have many volunteers who are free during daytime hours,” said Ms Corbett.

Although hand raising a baby bird
can be very rewarding, it can also be quite time consuming, so volunteers need
to be able to feed nestlings every 30 to 60 minutes from sun up to sundown. The
birds must be housed in a quiet and secure environment and will require one to
two months of care.

As volunteers need to conduct the
care from their home, those who rent property will need written authorisation
from their landlord. Volunteers also need to be age 18 or older.

“We’re looking for individuals who
work from home, are retired or are on summer break. Raising wild birds for
release is hard work, but very rewarding, and generally the birds can be
released onto the volunteer’s property,” said Ms Corbett.

There are numerous other ways in
which members of the public can assist the programme.

Taking care when pruning shrubs and
trees and avoiding those with nests in them can help birds. Being a responsible
pet owner can also help Cayman’s bird life, as cats and dogs running free can
easily kill baby birds learning to fly. Keeping a dog confined to a fenced yard
and keeping a cat inside can help protect Cayman wildlife.

Anyone who finds a baby bird should
call the LIME-sponsored Wildlife Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD (2473) for help and
support. The organisation has a tall ladder to assist with nest and nestling restorations
and has trained wildlife rehabilitators.

Never attempt to care for wildlife
yourself. Wild animals have special diets and demanding feeding schedules and
need the expert care of a trained volunteer.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a
programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands tasked with the rescue
of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild. It is
financed by donations from the public and staffed entirely by volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Alison Corbett at
[email protected], or visit caymanwildliferescue.org.

LOCALBabybirdsSTORY

This mockingbird nestling is one of many birds requiring care.
Photo: Submitted
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