Young birds learn to survive

PUBLISHED: 12:52 04 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:46 28 May 2010

The first of this year s crop of young blackbirds scurried out from under my car the other morning, rather late really as young have been around in many places for several weeks now. I always start to worry when I see these helpless looking creatures sudd

The first of this year's crop of young blackbirds scurried out from under my car the other morning, rather late really as young have been around in many places for several weeks now.

I always start to worry when I see these helpless looking creatures suddenly appear. They really do look so vulnerable with their cute faces and fat bodies, but there isn't much we can do to help really. Shooing off over-interested cats when they appear shouldn't be discouraged, but try not to handle any baby birds, however tempting it may be to move them somewhere safe.

The parents will do their best to keep their offspring safe and it is during these times that the young must develop their survival instincts that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. If they don't learn to fend for themselves now and learn to spot and avoid danger, they will almost certainly succumb later in life.

I think blackbirds are among the most vulnerable looking of all and one of the reasons for this is because many leave the nest before their wings and flight feathers are fully developed so they have to scuttle around on the floor to escape danger rather than fly for the first few days out of the nest.

For some birds, the nesting season is only just beginning though and it is the time of year to create some muddy puddles if you have house martins on your house or on others in your street. By always making sure there is a wet area of mud, you will be doing these migrants a real service.

These little black and white aerial acrobats struggle in dry weather as the mud they use to build their cup-shaped nests under eaves just don't stick and the nests fall to the ground. This is even more of a disaster when there are eggs or even chicks in the nest in May.

It is little things, like making sure there is some mud for house martins, that really help birds. You can do the same for those birds that make 'standard' nests by leaving bits of straw or even hair out in your garden for nest lining.

If they can find plenty of nest material in one place, the birds are saved a lot of time and effort in searching around and can get on with breeding more quickly.

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