Rescuing Baby Birds

White-crowned Sparrow juv_GuanellaPass-CO_LAH_0017Nesting season is upon us, and baby birds are everywhere. Some are cute, some are downright ugly, but all are endearing. Isn’t nature wonderful?

But sometimes, it seems as if Mother Nature has a problem. Not all baby birds survive to adulthood. Being caring individuals, when we see a youngster in trouble, our first inclination is to help. We’re hardwired to care for young animals, and our compassion kicks in. But once we’ve gathered up that forlorn ball of fluff, what do we do next?

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Henpecked!

hen_lah_9305Chickens can be pretty darn mean. The terms “pecking order” and “henpecked” have a firm basis in how a chicken society operates. Like many other animals—wolves and elephants come immediately to mind—there is an alpha chicken (left) who literally rules the roost. Every other bird knows its place too, which (most of the time) results in peaceful coexistence.

chicken_blkforest_20090731_lah_054Since my flock lacks a rooster, we have a queen hen. The other hens kowtow to her. She is always first to grab the scraps I toss into their coop, and the first to sample the fresh water when I clean their basin. And then there is the poor biddy in last place (right). She’s lacking feathers in a number of spots, not because she’s molting, but because the other hens pull them out.

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How to Be a Mama Hen

hen-chicks_parguera-pr_20100526_lah_7179

Your chicks have arrived! You got the call from the feed store or post office to come pick them up. Now it’s your job to be a mother hen for the next several months. What do you do?

Newly hatched chicks have a few simple needs. Meet those needs and they should grow into adult, egg-laying hens in about six months.

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