This nest of six Black-capped Chickadees came to us after their mother had been killed by a cat. Left on their own, these little guys wouldn't have made it, but a compassionate woman rescued them and immediately got them to VINS. They're a raucous bunch!
This tiny tot is a much younger Black-capped Chickadee. He was found on the ground with no nest in sight. He was cold and hungry and needed someone to help him grow big and strong, and the nice folks who notice him helped him find his way to VINS - and a toasty warm incubator. When he first arrived, he was practically naked - nothing but a bit of fuzz to keep him warm. Now he's growing in some baby feathers, and you can start to see his Chickadee markings. He even makes little Chickadee sounds!
This little American Robin has only been with us a short time. He (or she) was found on the ground, apparently having fallen out of his nest. He has no injuries, and is actually a healthy fledgling bird. Fledgling birds can seem very helpless and alone when they first leave the nest, but they are typically being cared for by parents who aren't far away. If you see a fully-feathered "baby" bird on the ground, leave it where it is (assuming it's a safe spot) and keep an eye out for the parents. You should see them come to the baby at regular intervals - they may even fuss at you if you get too close to their little one. If you don't see parents, the baby seems to be injured, or it's in an unsafe location with cars, cats or dogs, get in touch with an avian rehabber.
These European Starlings were nesting in the wall of a house! The homeowner found the nest and removed it, along with these five babies. They arrived very cold and lethargic, but once we got them warmed up and a fed, they really came alive. They're feisty and active and are just on the cusp of fledging. What a crew!
These babies are a stark contrast to the previous Robin and Starlings. They are about the same age (about 10 days old), but look much younger. The difference is nutrition. The first, healthy Robin was cared for by it's parents until its "abduction," and the Starlings came to VINS as nestlings and received our specialized nestling formula.
The American Robin (above) and European Starling (left) pictured here were cared for during the first week of their lives by members of the public. These folks had the best of intentions and rescued the babies after they had fallen from their nests. But they were ill-equipped to provide for the special needs of these tykes. Of course, a baby bird's parents are always the best at caring for them, but when that isn't an option, an experience, licensed avian rehabilitator is the next best bet. Now that these babies are receiving the proper nutrition, we're hopeful that they'll begin to thrive and develop properly - but only time will tell. We certainly appreciate the compassion of those who found and initially cared for the Robin and Starling, and it's been a great chance for us to teach others about the best way to grow healthy, strong songbirds!
We have two unique baby birds in our care, as well - a House Finch (who is just a blur in this photo, he moves so quickly!) and a White-breasted Nuthatch. These aren't rare birds in our area, we just don't see them as patients here at VINS very often. They are a cute pair, snuggling together and chirping at one another (we've likened the nasal ballads of the Nuthatch to those of Aaron Neville). The Nuthatch is a fledgling who was attacked by a cat. He has a broken halux (his rear digit or "thumb") which we have splinted. The House Finch's parents built the sweetest little nest inside a clothespin bag hanging from a clothesline. We suspect something happened to this little one's parents, as they hadn't returned to the nest in some time. And the kind woman who was keeping an eye on the nest brought him in to us - clothespin bag and all! Both birds are thriving and are starting to stretch their wings and practice flying. What a pair!
And last but not least, the American Crow. He was found on the ground, having fallen or been blown out of his nest. He had very few feathers, and he was very cold and lethargic. The cold can be fatal for nestling birds of any species, and we were fearful that this Crow had gotten too cold and may not be able to recover. We got him warmed up and treated him for internal trauma, and slowly but surely he perked up. Now he's a "big kid" and has lots of feathers. He preens and takes care of his new feathers, and he likes to practice flapping his wings. Though his health is good, that was only one challenge that we've faced with this youngster. Crows are incredibly susceptible to imprinting - becoming irreversibly socially-bonded to humans rather than those of their own species. Because of this, we have to take special steps to prevent his imprinting on VINS staff members. He has a mirror so he's always looking at another crow, we wear a special mask any time we interact with him, we never talk around him, and we play him a special mix of nature sounds which includes the sounds of crows. With any luck, he'll grow up wild and join a murder of crow companions!
Phew! There are a lot of mouths to feed at VINS right now - about 30 babies total. But we always have room for more. If you find a baby bird, give us a call and we'll make sure the little one receives the best care humans have to offer. Call our Wildlife Services Department with any bird-related questions or emergencies at 802-359-5001 ext. 212.