Weekend Birding: Trapped in the Nest
In responding to a frantic knock on the door, I found my neighbor asking if I could help a bird trapped in their bird house. It was stuck in the doorway and couldn’t get out.
When I climbed the ladder to look in the house, I saw a fledgling House Sparrow with his leg tangled in the nesting material. All the other babies were gone; he was the only one left, and from his squawking sounds he was either injured or angry . . . or both.
Fledgling House Sparrow after rescue
I couldn’t pull him out the door because whatever he was caught in was twisted in more nest material towards the back. I had to hold him still with one hand while pulling excess nest material out of a small hole at the top of the roof.
Nesting material caught on the bird’s leg
Eventually I discovered he was caught on some twine. Once I loosened the twine through the top of the box, I was able to get the bird out the door of the box. The photo above is what was attached to his foot.
By wrapping the bird in a small towel I was able to untangle most of the remaining twine on his foot. I put him in a small carrier and let him rest on my backyard deck for an hour. My goal was to get him back to his parents as soon as possible . . . but only if he was uninjured and his leg was ok.
Mom House Sparrow hears her baby
Within an hour he began chirping and calling out. A group of sparrows soon appeared on the deck and a female perched on the flower box a few feet from the fledgling, calling out to him. I assumed this was mom.
A second attempt to fledge
With mom’s urging he jumped out of the carrier and onto the deck, eventually hopping to safety in the nearby wildflower garden. I saw him again the next day in the vegetable garden; I could identify him by the tiny piece of twine that I couldn’t remove from the top of his leg.
Safe with mom in the garden
Because this was a House Sparrow, I was able to care for him after I rescued him from the nest box. Had this been a native or migratory species, I would have taken him to the wildlife rehabilitation center where they are licensed to treat wild birds. In my county, the center will not accept non-native birds such as House Sparrows or Starlings, so I was able to legally provide care and assistance. Thankfully the result was a happy ending.
What to do if you find an injured bird
Find a small box with a cover and line it with some paper towels and place the bird inside. Contact a local Wildlife Rehabilitator for further instructions. Do not try to feed the bird or give it water.
If the bird has struck a window and is stunned, put it in a box with the lid closed and place the box in a dark, quiet, safe place for an hour or so. This will aid in recovery from a concussion. After an hour, bring the box back outside and if the bird is ok it will fly away. If not, contact the wildlife rehabilitators.
Keep in mind federal, state and provincial legislation makes it illegal for unlicensed individuals to care for virtually any native bird species. I have seen the sad results of people who tried to “keep” a robin or blue jay only to turn it in weeks later – too late to be rehabilitated and released, and now doomed to a life as a cage bird.
I am happy to answer bird questions . . .
Just send me an email or leave a comment.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.
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