Living with nests and nestlings

Canada GooseHave you recently discovered a new tenant on your porch light or BBQ? In your flower pot or shed? Some birds make nests in locations that are not considered ideal, because they create an inconvenience for us or a safety hazard for their young. Different species of birds make nests of different sizes, at different times of the year and with different materials. For instance, American Robins are notorious for building their nests in awkward locations, such as on fences, mail boxes and even on a wreath hung on someone’s door!

Usually, once a bird lays all of its eggs, the young will hatch within roughly 30 days. During this time it is best to avoid the nest area in order to reduce the chances of disturbing the parents, who run the risk of abandoning the nest. The nest should never be moved because there is a high risk that the parents will abandon the young.

Once the baby birds hatch, they will spend about the first 30 days of their lives in the nest. During this period the parents will feed the birds constantly. Baby birds grow very fast, as they intend to leave the nest as soon as possible. Young birds in a nest run a much greater risk of being attacked by a predator.

Young RobinAfter about four weeks the baby birds—now fledglings—will jump out of the nest and stay on the ground for another one to two weeks before they can fly. This is a crucial time for them to learn about their environment and develop their flight muscles. It is therefore important to stay clear of the area so that the parents can continue to feed the birds and the fledglings do not disperse out of fright.

In some cases, parent birds can come across as being aggressive when you approach the nest of babies or fledglings. They may fly in your direction or close to your head but will rarely touch you. This behaviour is nothing to be worried about and is only temporary, lasting two to three weeks. The parents are simply protecting their young. Still, it is best to avoid the area until the babies are gone. If this is not possible, then use an open umbrella while passing the area; this will scare the parents enough to stay away from you.

It is important to understand that removing the nest, eggs or young of migratory birds is illegal in Canada and that the parents are only protecting their young,” says Jo-Annie Gagnon, education coordinator at Le Nichoir. “These young birds are lucky to have such nurturing, protective parents and are more likely to survive in the wild because of it.

If you have any questions about birds’ nests or have found a nest that has fallen, please give Le Nichoir a call 450 458 2809. [Read more…]

Why some birds are now harder to spot

Barn Swallow at Le NichoirEverything was better in the old days, the saying goes – including, it seems, our ability to spot a Barn Swallow or Chimney Swift up in the sky. According to data collected by scientists, things really have changed: insectivorous bird and songbird populations have declined steadily in North America over the past decades.

Swallows have suffered the steepest decline in population among all types of birds on the continent, with the Barn Swallow population down by 75% in the last 40 years, according to Wildlife Preservation Canada. The greatest decline, the organization says, has happened in the Maritimes.

Although the data is clear, the exact reasons behind the population decline are not. Scientists speculate that threats migrating birds like swallows face to their habitat, wintering grounds and food sources from urbanization, toxic chemicals and environmental changes may be factors. [Read more…]

How to Help Baby Birds

Robin - Merle d'Amérique Every spring, Le Nichoir sees a spike in the arrival of young altricial birds to the Barn. Yet these baby birds don’t usually need help.

“Most of the fledgling birds, including American crows, that we receive at this time of year are taken from their parents by people with good intentions,” says Susan Wylie, Le Nichoir’s executive director.

People out for a stroll often believe these birds are injured or abandoned. Out of the 775 nestling and fledgling birds that were brought to Le Nichoir in 2012, about 588 were either unintentionally or intentionally taken from their parents, with the remaining birds admitted due to injury. Le Nichoir has been working to bring down that number.

“By providing good information to callers, every year we’ve been able to drastically reduce the number of healthy baby birds being brought in,” says Susan. [Read more…]

Goélands ou mouettes ? (French only)

GoélandNous les voyons partout : dans les parcs, les stationnements ou sur les plages. Les adultes ont un corps blanc et un manteau (le dos et le dessus des ailes) gris ou noir, alors que les jeunes sont tout tachetés de brun. Ils ont de longues ailes et des pattes palmées. Beaucoup les appellent ‘’mouettes’’, d’autres ‘’goélands’’, mais qui a raison ?

Malgré l’emploi courant du terme ‘’mouettes’’ pour désigner ces acrobates du ciel, ceux que l’on voit près des concentrations humaines sont généralement des goélands. Et le plus souvent, il s’agit de goélands à bec cerclé. De la taille d’une corneille, les adultes sont reconnaissables à leur manteau gris pâle et à la bande noire entourant le bout de leur bec. La deuxième espèce que l’on voit communément est le goéland argenté. [Read more…]

A Murder of Crows, A Parliament of Owls…

Speed BumpRecently, en route to Le Nichoir from my home in St-Lazare, I was happy to see a flock of Wild Turkeys in a field close to the road. Having not seen any for about a year, I stopped to watch them. This was delightful, as the male was in full courtship display! As I admired them, I wondered, “What does one call a group of turkeys?”

Many people may be familiar with collective terms such as a “murder” of crows, a “parliament” of owls and a “gaggle” of geese. But was there one for a group of turkeys? I decided to do some research and soon discovered that there were numerous collective nouns (terms which denote a specific group of persons, things or animals) for all sorts of birds. [Read more…]