For the Birds: Baby birds are emerging

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Bewick's Wren fledgling. Photo by Elaine Chuang
By Christine Southwick

Baby birds are hatching — Spotted Towhees and Anna’s Hummingbird young have been spotted in my yard, which means Dark-eyed Juncos and Bewick’s Wrens are close behind. 

These are the first breeders, others will follow; Song Sparrows, chickadees, Flickers, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, White-crowned Sparrows, finches, and American Robins to name a few.

Nestlings and fledglings need our help — don’t poison them with herbicides such as Round-up which get on their parents’ feet and get brought into the nests and cause them to die.

Bushtit looking for bugs to feed nestlings.
Photo by Elaine Chuang
American Robins are in sharp decline
, and one major cause is the poisoning of their lawns and the worms they eat.

Spraying bugs also kills birds. Parent birds feed their hatchlings a solid diet of bugs. 

Caterpillars, gnats, aphids, spiders, mosquitos, and bugs in leaf litter are the babies’ food. 

There aren’t any fruits to eat until later in the season, so if the bugs are poisoned, then birds perish.

Rufous Hummingbird on nest.
Photo by Doug Parrott
Native plants and trees help provide the bugs birds need and recognize
. More shrubs and less lawn provide cover for the safety of birds, especially fledglings. 

As you start cleaning up your yard, look for ground nests before whacking and mowing weedy areas.

If you find a baby bird on the ground, and it has feathers, it is a fledgling, and doesn’t need your help – its parents are nearby ready to nurture it. 

Keep dogs and cats away from it, and it will survive. 

Many ground birds leave the nest before they can fly — they scurry in different directions to enhance their chances of survival — nests can provide a quick and tasty meal for raccoons and other hungry creatures.

Dark-eyed Junco nest in fuschia.
Photo by Christine Southwick
Here is a yes/no link to determine if the baby bird you found needs your help. 

Let our local birds take care of the bugs. Smile as a new generation of birds prospers with your help.

Note: I carefully watered around the nest in the fuschia. Three juncos. 

Locally if you see a bird flying into your hanging basket, a junco probably has a nest inside. They usually hatch in two weeks, and leave the nest two weeks later.


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