It's that time of year. Birds that went largely unnoticed throughout the fall and winter are suddenly highly visible (and audible). They're busy collecting food and stuffing it into seemingly insatiable gaping beaks. They take a break every now and then to dive-bomb anything that comes too close to the nest, but once the intruder is dealt with they go right back to their primary focus of food, food and more food for their ever-growing young. We know they're out there, because when they run into trouble they come to PAWS. And even in a setting as foreign to them as a wildlife center, those hungry mouths just keep right on gaping.
Fortunately, we have a dedicated group of volunteers and interns who keep these hungry mouths fed. Known as Bird Nursery Caretakers, these volunteers raise our orphaned songbirds until they're ready to fend for themselves. The volunteers feed, clean and encourage the birds to begin to eat on their own. The patients are very small, but the job is very big.
Meanwhile, our dedicated wildlife admission specialists are answering calls from the public and helping to determine whether or not young birds are actually in need of help. Fledgling birds learning to fly are everywhere at this time of year, and they often appear to be sick or injured when they're not.
Some fledgling birds look very much like adults. They're often distinguishable only by their behavior, and by fleshy pink, red or yellow gape flanges at the corner of their mouth. Look closely on the fledgling Pine Siskin below and you can see his pinkish-red gape flange.
If you find a baby bird that you believe may need help, you can always contact PAWS at 425.412.4040. We also have a handy flow chart online, titled "I found a baby bird! What should I do?", that will help walk you through the process of assessing a baby bird.
We are also currently looking for motivated, detail-oriented volunteers to join the ranks of our Bird Nursery Caretakers. A job description and applications are available online. If you would like to help raise some of the dozens of orphaned birds that PAWS receives each spring and summer, we would love to hear from you!
If you don't have the time but would like to help feed the birds another way, you can donate an item from our "Baby Shower" wish list on Amazon.com! Jars of baby food and bags of wheat bran or corn meal are especially helpful.