Each spring, we wonder when the first baby bird will arrive in our Wildlife Services Department and what species it will be. This was a particularly long winter, so we expected that the babies would show up a bit later than in past years.
(Watch a video of our first baby of the year.)
Well, we got our answer nearly two weeks ago. Our first baby, a tiny mourning dove, arrived on April 25. This little one was found on a sidewalk - likely the result of an overactive tyke who wandered a bit too far over the edge of his nest. Other than a bit of bruising on his abdomen and a small amount of blood on his wing, both injuries likely sustained during his tumble out of the nest onto concrete, this little dove was in good condition.
Our main priorities with any nestling baby bird are to 1) make sure the bird is warm, and 2) get some food in the baby's belly. This baby was nice and warm when he arrived (not too hot and not too cold, but just right), so we got him settled in an incubator to maintain his temperature and served him his first meal. He's been eating and growing ever since!
Baby birds grow very quickly, so he went from the helpless baby you see in the photo above to the awkward yet active youngster featured in this video to the fully-feathered teenager in the photo to the left in less than two week's time. In the video, the baby is making his first attempt at eating solid food and drinking water on his own. We have a bottle rigged with a soft opening that mimics his mother's mouth. He sticks his head in the bottle, opens his mouth and takes in the mix of seed and starter. It's takes time for him to learn that he must actively eat and drink rather than just opening his mouth and waiting for the food to fall in! You can see when he's offered water that he opens his mouth, expecting the water to jump in! Nearly a week has gone by since the video was taken, and he is a master-drinker now - though he's still working on eating solid food without the bottle. Oh, baby!