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Thread subject: FLEDGING.
||07/10/05 02:28 pm
||It is now that time of the breeding cycle where we have to see our young birds attempt to leave the nest. We will begin to see less and less of them once they are airbourne. From my reading this am I learnt that Fledging is a pivitol event in a bird's life. The downy hatchling that emerged from the egg has now transformed into a feathered juvenile. It must learn to fly and leave the relative safety of the nest and parental supervision. Many small birds when leaving the nest flutter and scramble about. Umable to fly well they are very vulnerable to predation. Mortality during this period is high. Once past these early days of learning to fly well the juvenile bird is less vulnerable than being stuck in the nest. Osprey juveiles master flight relatively well after launching themselves on their maiden flight. Most juvenile birds rely on camouflage plumage, immobility and responding to the warning calls of the parent birds for protection while still in the nest, and when just out of the nest. We see this all the time on the DPOF cam. Many juvenile birds rely on parents to still feed then for a few days following fledging, up to several weeks in some cases.
Sea bird young show an extrordinary daring and skill when they leave the nest. They have hatched on small cliff faces and must leap off into the open ocean below. These young birds are flightless too so instinct must hurl them off into the abiss. They plunge hundreds of feet below to the open ocean where after only a few days of age they are found miles away from land. Several duck species that nest in cavities high in a tree have their young jump out of the cavity hole and bounce off the forest floor, then waddle a fair distance to a lake or stream. Usually, the female parent leads the way. Imagine doing that after 24-48hrs of being hatched? Apparently this activity rarely hurts any of the chicks. Guess they are like a bouncing rubber ball.
My three baby Violet -green Swallows are still around the neighborhood 10 days after fledging. Their parents are still watching over them and sometimes feeding them in mid air. Often I see the young ones attempting to feed each other.This is comical. I am sure they are catching insects themselves by now, but kids will be kids...;-))
The three young sleep in the nest box at night after a busy day of mastering their flying skills. It is a beautifully sunny day with a breeze for perfect flying today. I see right now, all three young and their parents sitting on a wire at the top of the condo building opposite...they must be taking a rest. Makes me smile and realise just because they have fledged doesn't necessarily mean they are gone for ever.
||07/10/05 04:21 pm
||Thanks, Marie. What a great lesson and reminder.
Here in Toronto, too, it is a gorgeous warm, sunny day today with only a whisper of a breeze. I put leashes on my cats and took them outside on my back patio for the first time, to explore a bit, just because they had been sitting in the window, complaining that I was out in the fresh air and they weren't! They are indoor cats, after all. They were cautious and a bit tentative but not fearful and quite loved the hour we spent together outside. I wondered how they would react if any birds (or squirrels) would happen by but the only visitors we had were a few bees and flies. I just brought them (the cats!) in and am about to go back out, myself.
Your fledging stories remind me of the cycles of life and the seasons and how nature, itself is so unpredictable. It's hard to understand that at this very moment, under the same sky somewhere else, Hurricane Dennis is wreaking havoc on the lives of many, including the birds and other creatures who are unable to batten down and seek refuge....
I am holding a good thought for everyone in that *other* Dennis's path, may they stay safe...
||07/10/05 07:34 pm
||Yes, Marie, it sounds like you were describing the beautiful Wood Duck, whose chicks usually fall from a high nest onto the ground. I've often thought how they must be "built" to stand such a rough beginning. A few years ago I saw my first live wood ducks - the parents & about 12 chicks all swimming behind in a line. I was in heaven!
||07/10/05 07:37 pm
||wasnt that the duck this year that made a nest on property in Washington DC . the US Mint?
The people that worked there volunteered to guard the nest 24/7.
||07/10/05 09:15 pm
||Yup, but they were plain-old every-day mallards and it was at the Treasury which is right next door to the White House. You were thinking along the right lines, though - money. they were DC's version of "Make Way for Ducklings".
||07/11/05 09:41 am
||"Make Way for Ducklings" was my younger son's (the one who just visited from Calif.) favorite book as a young child. I still read it to my grandchildren.