by kathleen woods, director, phoenix wildlife center
Ah, June! That wonderful time of year when we can sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. Gardening comes to mind, with thoughts of pruning. However, this is absolutely the worst time of year to prune your trees and bushes; in fact, you should wait until Fall, after the babies (from songbirds to raptors) have fledged and left their nests. We cannot tell you how many times bushes are pruned, only to the homeowners’ dismay to find naked nestlings on the ground and the nest destroyed. So, what do you do if this happens to you?
First of all, remember that it is a myth that if you touch a baby bird the mother won’t take it back. We remind you of this every year as some people still believe the ‘old wives’ tale’, and we want YOU, our reader, to be informed.
If the nest is destroyed, find an old Easter basket or wicker flower basket. Place it in a tree or bush as close as possible to the vines or branches you have destroyed. Affix it to the tree or bush, and gently place the babies back in the nest. Do NOT put any substrate other than natural items (small twigs) in your basket; if you put anything else in and it rains, the baby will get cold and die. If the babies have been on the ground for a long time, feel free to put them ON a ziplock bag of hot water; the heat and humidity will perk them back up. Then put them back in the nest (without the ziplock bag). NEVER give a baby bird water, and definitely do not offer them food; some birds eat insects and some eat grains. If it is a larger bird (although by now most raptors have fledged) call us for help. We recently re-nested two great horned owl babies in a laundry basket 60 feet up in a pine tree!
In 2018, we mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years. National Geographic, National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International and more than 100 other organizations join forces for 12 months of storytelling and science to examine how our changing environment is impacting birds around the globe. Locally, we invite you to join in this celebration by attending activities of the Harford Bird Club, Chesapeake Audubon Society, and at Nature Centers such as Eden Mill Nature Center. Your support means a lot to our partner organizations. After all, who can imagine life without birds?!
As always, we are here to help. Our new Center will be open soon (we’ll tell you all about it in the next issue). Thanks to all of you who asked for nest box plans! Contact us at 410.628.9736 or on line at phoenixwildlife.org The Phoenix Wildlife Center, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization, dedicated to the rehabilitation of native Maryland wildlife, and to education of the public on wildlife issues. We have State and Federal permits to rehabilitate native Maryland wildlife, including bald eagles. If you have questions, you may email at firstname.lastname@example.org or access our website phoenixwildlife.org for information on keeping most wildlife safe until you can take it to a permitted rehabilitator: mwrawildlife.org.
photography: hugh simmons