Sunday, May 16, 2010

house finch update

The baby house finches, meanwhile, are getting really big, really fast. I only noticed the babies for sure a week ago on the 9th (there was some activity on Friday the 7th, but I couldn't clearly see what; that was also the day of the freak blizzard). And then today suddenly they are big enough that one of them accidentally fledged. The babies hadn't previously been bothered by me using the back door, so I was putting some plants outside, and one of the babies was sitting up and looking at me, so I stood there a while and looked at it. I finished up with my plants, but then when I opened up the back door again the baby got scared and sort of jumped/fluttered to the ground. The official protocol is that if a baby bird can fly, even just a little bit, that you're supposed to leave him be and the parents will keep taking care of it, but I felt bad for being the one to scare him off, so I put on gloves, caught him (once on the ground he could only flutter away a few inches at a time) and dropped him off back on the rafter.

I'm kind of surprised that the babies made it this far, since the parents don't seem to be particularly attentive. The mom was on the nest almost constantly when she was incubating, but then after the babies hatched she's barely been on the nest at all--she flies in a couple times an hour to bring in a mouthful of grub for the little ones, and then flies off again. And before yesterday, I hadn't seen the dad at all during all of incubation and baby-rearing, and today and yesterday he's only dropped by a handful of times. Once he flew in just as the female was about to feed the babies, and she instead handed off the food to him, and he fed them; then another time I witnessed the exact opposite, the male fed the female who then fed the babies.
But most of the time the babies are on their own. As far as I'm aware, there were four when they hatched and there's still four now. And then the poor robins--who actually co-operate and co-parent effectively and are on the nest almost constantly--they're the ones getting harassed by predators.

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