Can you imagine being way up high in a tree, and the March winds start blowing really hard? If your nest isn’t in the right spot, or attached securely, you just might end up on the ground! Although song birds weigh very little, if they fall from a very high place they can get hurt. Their wings and tail feathers will not be fully developed until about 2 weeks after they have hatched.
In the meantime, they are vulnerable to the elements, and their nest mates.
Reasons Baby Birds Fall Out of Nests
High Winds and Fierce Storms Dislodge the Structure
Lack of Ideal Nesting Sites
Aggressive Siblings Push Them Out
Nursery is Too Crowded for All to Fit Young Bird is in Transition
As we were strolling down the street window shopping one warm spring day, one of my friends spotted a baby bird on the sidewalk.We looked up to see that its nest had been built on a second story window ledge. There were no trees or nearby perching opportunities for the fledglings that were just learning to fly. That’s why it was in such a dangerous place, just inches from a busy street. Lack of suitable nesting sites put these little birds in harm’s way.
The small ornamental trees that had been growing along the sidewalk were taken out by the public works department in the previous fall season. It’s possible the parents had instinctively chosen this site because they once nested there when they had the benefit of nearby branches from which to practice their short flights.
Sometimes there might be many hours or even days before all the eggs in a clutch hatch. In that case, the first one out of its shell has the best advantage because the parents will immediately begin to feed it.From then on,it is a struggle to be the one that gets fed the most often.
It is a fact that occasionally the larger more aggressive nestling will push a smaller, weaker nest mate out. That’s what is known as ‘survival of the fittest’. It isn’t pretty, but it does ensure that the strongest offspring will eventually perpetuate their species successfully.
Now and then the nest becomes too crowded for all the baby birds to fit comfortably inside. In that case, something has to give. Cowbirds are notorious for laying their egg in another bird’s nest. Mom and Pop usually feed the cowbird hatchling along with their own offspring, even though it is bigger and louder. And before it is ready to fly on its own, one or more of the other little birds end up on the ground.
Maybe it didn’t fall out after all,
If the eyes are open and the little bird has all its feathers, it’s quite possible it is in transition from being a nestling to becoming a fledgling, beginning to explore its surroundings. This is particularly true of birds that like to find their food on the ground, like the American Robin.
In this case, it is best for the baby bird that everyone leaves the area. Its parents are nearby watching and ready to fend off possible predators. They will also continue to teach their youngster how to forage for food, and how to use its wings. This may go on for the next couple of days until junior can take to the air under his own power.
From destructive storms, to bigger, ‘badder’ nest mates, to paraphrasing cowbirds throwing their weight around, to fledglings learning to forage on the ground all are reasons for young birds to depart their nests prematurely. But it’s amazing how resilient wildlife can be when given the chance.
Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.
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