f you teach young people, it’s likely that at some point a student will come to you asking what to do for a baby bird lying helpless outside of its nest. Worse, they might even walk up to you with a chick or unhatched egg in their hand. Perhaps they have questions and misconceptions about baby birds and want to know “the truth” from you. Knowing the facts about what is truly helpful for baby birds (and what isn’t) will help you handle these situations and offer you teachable moments!
Here is a list of baby bird FAQs for you to share with friends, family, and students:
Q. I found a baby bird on the ground, should I take it in and feed it?
A. When there’s a helpless baby bird lying on the ground, most people’s first instinct is to take it in and try to raise it. Many people don’t realize that the vast majority of “abandoned” baby birds are perfectly healthy fledglings that don’t need your help at all! Fledglings are usually fluffy and able to hop around and tightly grip your finger or a twig. If the baby bird you’ve found fits this description, it’s completely normal for it to be hanging out on the ground and you should just let it be.
In some cases, younger baby birds, called nestlings, fall out of the nest before they’re ready to leave. These birds usually have only a few sparse feathers and are incapable of hopping around or grabbing on to a twig. In this case, the nest in surely close by and you should carefully place the baby bird back in it. As long as the bird isn’t injured, it should be just fine once it’s back in the nest.
Under no circumstances should a baby bird be fed things like milk or bread.
Q. If I handle a baby bird, won’t its parents pick up my scent and abandon it?
A. Fortunately, that’s just a myth. Parent birds don’t recognize their young by smell—most birds don’t even have a good sense of smell.
Q. Why do birds leave the nest before they can fly?
A. Usually, it’s to their advantage to leave as soon as they can. Predators can easily find a nest full of squawking baby birds, and nests can host parasites. Parent birds work very hard to get their young out of the nest as quickly as possible.
Q. I accidentally spooked a nesting mother. She flew away and hasn’t returned. Should I try to hatch the eggs myself?
A. Hatching eggs is a very delicate process! Unless you’re an expert with the right equipment, achieving the conditions essential for hatching eggs would be nearly impossible. The temperature and humidity must be exactly right and the eggs must be rotated periodically. If you try to hatch them yourself, the hatchlings might have grave deformities, if they even survive at all. For these reasons, many wildlife rehabilitators and nature centers don’t even try to hatch eggs, so you should check to see about this before bringing eggs to potential helpers.
Luckily, mother birds usually return to the nest eventually, but it might take a little while. They have a lot invested in their eggs and are unlikely to just abandon them altogether.
Teachers often hope to use nests that are old or abandoned for use in the classroom, or find that students will bring these “goodies” in. You should know that possessing the nest of a migratory bird is not legal without the proper permits, according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is best to just leave nests in nature, where they belong.
The good news is that you and your students can observe nests and nesting birds without even leaving the classroom! During nesting season, you can stream video from our high-definition “Nest Cams” and use our accompanying Cams4Educators activity series to teach about nesting behavior. Additionally, the May lesson of our Feathered Friends lesson series is all about nesting and learning about this subject with the real life examples seen through the Nest Cams.
Have you ever considered installing a rain garden on your property? There may be funding sources to help you build one--join our Watershed Stewards group on Google to learn more.
A rain garden is a small depression filled with native plants which captures stormwater runoff. The garden holds the water as it slowly infiltrates the substrate and recharges the groundwater underneath.
Here I want to give some basic advice that applies to hiking in general.
There are a few things to remember no matter if you are taking a short walk around town, or hiking all the way into the back-country. Things like water, sunscreen, and good shoes. The needs for different hikes will vary but to be best prepared one should always have:
Back in January 2013, two reports were published examining three years’ data (March 2009 – February 2012) captured by the ongoing ‘Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment’ (MENE) survey.
Commissioned by Natural England and English Heritage and carried out by TNS Global and King’s College London, the first report analyses visits to the natural environment by adults, taken with children: ‘
A report on various collision prevention products
By Jean Chamberlain
I enjoy having the natural light coming in through my windows. I enjoy the view I have of the woods around me and of Pilot Mountain in the distance. Like many birders I also enjoy watching birds feeding at my bird feeders. Until recently birds would frequently crash into the windows through which I enjoyed watching birds.
Yesterday and today, English and History students are spending the afternoon snowshoeing north into the Sylvania Wilderness in small groups. (Another graduate fellow and I are assisting teachers Jeff Rennicke and Michael Salat with this lesson so that we can have fewer students per instructor.) Armed with maps and compasses, each group set out for a different lake in the wilderness area, navigating through areas of forest with no trails.
This is a reblog from the Children and Nature Network.
Field Notes from the Future: Tracking the Movement to Connect People and Nature
It seems to me that most people are incredibly busy, confined almost every moment to the indoors at school and work, and on weekends so burdened with shopping and chores that like-it-or-not (and I don’t) we are becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world. We simply can’t get outdoors enough! And the problem is different for different age groups. For example, my eighty-year-old mother is very arthritic and as much as she loves the outdoors she hardly ever gets outside and receives almost no outdoor light.
I really yearn to be outdoors more, especially now that it is spring. How about the rest of you? Here is a start. We offer three everyday ways for kids, teens, adults, and elders to connect more to nature. Please chime in to add your suggestions (the link is below)! We all need inspiration on this one, as parents (teenagers, anyone?), for ourselves, to help those who are aging:
1. Do an outdoor activity outdoors that requires that they get dirty (such as playing in the mud)
2. Take wildlife-watching walks
3. Take a trip to a working farm
1. Play outdoor sports
2. Outdoor seasonal projects (raking, gardening, filling the bird feeders)
3. One meal a week, ask them to make the food choices and talk with them about the production (organic versus conventional, etc.) of the foods they pick
1. Go camping
2. Spend time outdoors gardening, taking walks, picnicing–whatever suits
3. Connect to your local farms or farmers’ markets
1. Take walks to drink in the beauty of nature
2. Sit outdoors when you can (in a park or yard)
3. Invest in some binoculars to watch bird