A STRIATED pardalote is hopefully winging its way back to Bruny Island after receiving a helping hand from conservationists there last breeding season after it fell from a nest.
The pardalote received some tender, loving care from Wildcare volunteers at the historic Bruny Island Quarantine Station after they found it in trouble just before Christmas.
Volunteer caretakers at the quarantine station on South Bruny, Lyn Donald and Kel Callaghan, said “a little ball of fluff’’ landed on the ground right next to them at the clothes line in the station’s ground.
“This was followed by a frantic parent trying to encourage the baby to fly back to the tree in which the nest was situated,” Lyn said in a post on the Bruny Island Environment Network website.
“Despite desperate attempts, it could not achieve any elevation. We waited to see if it could help itself, but it was being attacked by a kookaburra and a magpie, both of whom had been feeding young in the immediate area.
“Eventually Kel gently picked it up and placed it on a branch where the parents had been flying that morning.
“It balanced precariously as it was immediately attended by a parent who continuously fed it. Within a couple of hours it seemed to have the strength it needed to become fully fledged, as it flew off to surrounding trees as part of a happy trio.
“We heard the distinctive call of the baby to its parents. It was like an electronic beep, so much so that we were initially checking our cameras to see if the sound came from them.”
I came across this story earlier in the year but chose to wait until the approach of this summer’s breeding season because it holds important, vital, information on how to deal with fledglings that fall out of nests.
On many occasion during the 13 years I have written the On the Wing column I have had neighbours bringing fledglings they have found, asking me if I can either care for the birds myself or give them advice on how to rear their new charges to adulthood.
I advice I give immediately is clear cut – return to the exact spot where you found the birds and try to establish where the nest is. Usually nests are well hidden in dense shrubs, or may even be in tussled long grass on the ground, but they are not hard to find if you have an inclination that a nest is there. If the nest is discovered, and is within reach, it is not difficult to merely place the bird back in it.
Many people believe that if the scent of a human gets on a nestling, or nest, the parents will desert the young. This is a fallacy and, although parents might be more inclined to desert a nest with eggs which has been disturbed in some way, they will not readily abandon young birds, and will in fact display amazing acts of bravery to defend them.
If the nest cannot be found, or is high in a tree, then the simple solution to the nestling dilemma is to find a suitable perch for the bird nearby, preferably in a dense bush where it cannot be seen by predators.
Be patient, because the young bird might sit there for quite a while before the parents find it, or hear its calls for food.
Removing a bird from the location where it was found should always be considered a last resort, if it has clearly been abandoned or its parents killed by a predator. Then it must be taken to an experienced carer or veterinary surgeon, because hand-rearing is a complex task, requiring the right food and feeding technique, which is often beyond the skills of the concerned bird and animal lover, myself included.
Meanwhile, the Bruny volunteers are eagerly awaiting the return of the migratory pardalotes from the Australian mainland, wondering if the fledgling rescued last summer is among them.