Sunday, September 15, 2013

Busy Baby Bird Feeders

Summer time means an influx of baby birds. WINC has seen robins, finches, sparrows, woodpeckers, catbirds, cowbirds, grackles, starlings, wrens, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, and many other bird species come in to live in the Avian Nursery. Many of these young birds need to be fed every 30 minutes! For this reason, children 12 and over (adults, too!) can volunteer once a week to come in and feed the baby birds. It’s a very fun and interesting task for kids and parents alike. A wide variety of birds come through the bird room, and Baby Bird Feeders get to learn about different species and see them grow. Baby Bird Feeders (BBF’s) are a huge help to all volunteers, interns and staff. They are an essential part of keeping animal care at the center running smoothly.
Fledgling House Finches
Our Avian Nursery consists of two-three incubators, eight medium reptariums, and 4 large reptariums in which the birds are housed. The rehabilitation process is different for each bird, but generally, infant birds will start out in the incubator where they are kept warm and cozy in handmade nests. Nestlings in the incubators are fed every 30 minutes because they have very fast metabolisms and digest their food quickly. When the birds grow to the fledgling stage, ignoring their nests, exploring their space, and even eating a bit on their own, they no longer need to be incubated. At this stage in life, wild fledglings would be leaving the nest and starting to learn how to fly. Birds at this stage are often brought into the center because they were found on the ground without their mothers and thought to be abandoned or orphaned. While this does happen, it is not necessarily true. Fledglings are becoming more independent and may venture from their mothers for periods of time. The fledglings in WINC’s Avian Nursery are moved to the tiers where they are still hand fed multiple times a day, but also encouraged to eat on their own.  They remain in this stage for a few weeks while they grow, interact with each other, and learn to be a bird. Older and bigger birds are put in the large reptariums, where they have lots of room to hop around and do some flying. They are mostly self-feeding and are only hand-fed every 3-4 hours. The final step of avian rehabilitation is the move to outdoor caging where they have room to fly, bathe, and browse for their own food. Baby Bird Feeders are a tremendous help to the center. Caring for these birds is a difficult and time-consuming task, but is very rewarding!               
I got the chance to interview two of our BBFs, Pat Kupka and Alison Huebner, a college sophomore. These ladies have been coming to WINC once a week since May to help out in the baby bird room.
 “My favorite thing about working in the Avian Nursery is getting to interact with wildlife. I would definitely recommend the Baby Bird Feeding Program to others, especially those looking for a project to do with their kids. It gives them a skill” said Pat.
Nest of Black-capped Chickadees

Alison says the hardest part about being a BBF was taking care of a large number of birds with different diets for each type, but she also said she learned a lot about how to feed and handle birds.
Fledgling Barn Swallows

Being a Baby Bird Feeder is an awesome experience which can help people of all ages learn and refine lots of skills like time management and prioritizing, but also handling and feeding wildlife!
 If you or your child would like to be a Baby Bird Feeder next summer, you can apply by visiting our website and to learn more about the summer program followthe link below:


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