Monday, July 5, 2010

"Branchers and grounders"

You'd have to be close and look closely to see the baby bird in an open part of the rhododendron bush. S/he was fluffy looking and bright eyed, with a blackish patch across the top of the head. And apparently not afraid of humans, or at least this one who had been standing nearby, watering other rhodos.

What to do? Only recently in the Wildlife Center's education session, the point had been made: Parents come back to their young. Don't move baby deer; the mother will return. Same with baby birds?

Wasn't this young bluejay vulnerable to cats and other predators where s/he was? Would s/he be gently grabbable, to put in a box and take to the Wildlife Center after the phone call they request first?

Reaching Diane Nickerson, the center manager, was a calming experience. She immediately said bluejays are "branchers" -- meaning that young birds learn to fly from branch to branch. The parent jays watch out for them (which was how I'd quickly ID'd the baby, aware of jay movements and sounds around me).

Next time I went near the bush that day, no sign of baby bluejay. With luck, her/his route may have been branch, branch, branch, back to nest for a rest.

In contrast, robins, Nickerson said, are "grounders." Their young learn to fly from the ground. When I asked how they manage to avoid predators, her answer: "That's why not all robins make it."

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