Every year I get a sad case of a fledging bird who is “rescued” by a well-meaning member of the public but in fact is taken from its parents’ care, thus substantially decreasing its chances for survival. This year it’s a fledgling crow. This fellow is in the awkward stage between leaving the nest and figuring out this whole flight thing. Somehow he got trapped in a fence (that’s all I know). A kind person liberated him (thank you!) and then, noticing some swelling in the leg, turned him into a local vet who sent him to me. So now I have a terrified juvenile crow who I then have to stress out more by force feeding. Crows don’t eat when they are brought into a new situation, but if a juvi doesn’t eat, it can die. Luckily my friend is beginning to nibble at food and I have the phone number of the person who picked him up. If his leg remains stable or improves, I’ll take him home to Mom and Dad this weekend.
Here’s a photo of Junior. He has the tell-tale blue eyes of a juvenile as well as the red mouth. His open beak is a sign of stress, as I just finished feeding him. Please let folks know that if a fledgling is on the ground and not obviously injured to leave it alone. The best thing to do is back away and watch. If one of the parents doesn’t show up with 15-20 minutes, then it may be that the chick has been abandoned and needs to be taken in to protect it from predators. But if the parents appear, they will take care of the chick and do a much better job than any human.
The Northern Flickers are about ready to send on their way. Two will still take food from me but the third is done with taking hand-outs from an untrustworthy human. When they all are self-sufficient, they will be ready for release.
Gwen may be a Mamma again. I broke all the rules and peeked into the nest last week and there were two eggs. (I noticed a flight feather on the ground. Once a bird starts molting, breeding is done because it takes too much energy to raise chicks and grow a new set of feathers, so I was afraid that they had decided to take the year off in spite of building a colossal nest.)
Crows take the privacy of the nursery very seriously. As you can see below, Gwen and Stephen removed the camera from the nest area that I’ve used to keep an eye on chick happenings. That took quite an effort as they had to peck away at the screws that were fastening it to the wall. And Gwen also told me exactly what she thought of my efforts to snuffle around the corvid inner sanctum. She has been spending a lot of time back in the enclosure for the past day or so and this has been hatching week in the past. So we’ll see.