Like lots of families living through the pandemic, one mother had all the time she could take with her teenager and kicked him out. Or her. It’s hard to tell with a fledgling mockingbird.
When I first spotted the little bird, I thought it was one of the lizards that flash their orange neck fan for the girl lizards to see, or, more likely, to show off to the other male lizards while the girls just roll their eyes. A closer look revealed the orange body part to be a beak, which a very young bird nestled in the grass just outside our patio was opening and closing in silence.
Poor thing, I thought, too weak to even chirp. Remembering rescuing a baby squirrel in Albany on another spring day years ago, I found a small paper box and ventured outside to save another life.
I bent down to scoop the wee bird up, and two unexpected things happened: the fledgling chirped and hopped a bit — teenagers are such drama queens — and the mother bird dive bombed me.
This was not an abandoned or lost bird. This, the wildlife rescue volunteer told me, was an expected rite of passage. The mother boots the fledgling out of the nest but continues feeding the insatiable teen.All I had to do was back off and let the process unfold.
Do not put the bird in a container. That will scare off the mother.Mary, the volunteer wildlife rescue coordinator
Even so I heard these words, the mother flew in with a beakful of lunch. After carefully assessing her surroundings, she hopped over to her kid and deposited the morsel in his yawning orange mouth. He immediately chirped for more.
She was back in a few minutes with the next bit. And so on all afternoon while Junior ventured a bit of jumping and flexed his new bony wings.
If the bird is there when evening comes, you can bring it indoors so it’s not killed by an owl, or a snake, or a cat. Or an alligator. But put it right back in the same place in the morning.Mary, the volunteer wildlife rescue coordinator
The fledgling was gone when we went out to bring him in for the night. I am hoping that he was able to take wing or at least hop to safety. It’s too sad to think that, after all those hours of feeding by a devoted mother, the fledgling was taken by a predator. But, then again, there are all kinds of babies out there needing to be taken care of.
It’s just the beginning of fledgling season. Click here for Palm Beach County information on Florida wildlife.