Most spring and summer babies have been born, so there aren’t a lot more birthdays to celebrate (except mine!). Young birds have hatched, but they may just now be “fledging,” or leaving the nest and exploring the world around them. Fledglings may still have a few downy feathers on their crown (a la Bernie Sanders), but otherwise may appear to be adults. As mentioned in a previous post, fledglings have short, stubby tails compared to their parents.
Please try to keep your children and domestic pets out of the immediate area while fledglings are on the ground; their parents are still caring for them, but they may not be as scared of large predators (like us) as they should be. They develop quickly from the fledgling stage and can be mostly flighted in as little as a week! However, they will still be learning from their parents for a while longer–like how and where to forage, especially when resources may be scarce.
This is why, even though the ground is a dangerous place for a bird, we always recommend leaving fledgling in the care of their parents. Many good samaritans are concerned about domestic cats and may pick up fledglings to “rescue” them, but the best thing you can do for your local birds is to keep your cats indoors (at least until fledglings are off the ground), and talk to your neighbors about doing the same. Even though the world is a dangerous place for birds, the very best place for a fledgling is with their parents, who can teach them things that humans never could.
Another kind of animal is also leaving the nest–Western Skinks! Eggs were laid in burrows and under rocks in early summer, but this month they’re hatching and the babies are taking their first steps out into the world! You’ll recognize these young skinks by their distinctive blue tails, which become the same cryptic color as the rest of their bodies as they mature.
You may find these skinks when lifting up rocks or old lawn equipment, where they like to hide and hunt insects and larvae. Keep some shady and damp spots in your yard to encourage these natural pest controllers to take up residence!
Written by: Lindsay Magill