No, I didn’t grab this little guy right out of the nest, I swear! The babies fledged last weekend, and for several days, we’ve been watching the parents feeding them from various locations around the yard. The babies will sit on a bamboo stem and flap their wings and beg, and the parents race around finding things for them to eat. They can now fly longer distances, but don’t have a great deal of control. Yesterday, Mark came running in to announce one of the babies was in our garage and couldn’t find his way out, and the parents birds were outside, having conniption fits. I’m sure he would have eventually flown to them–the bird, not Mark–but we were ready to close up the garage, and he needed a bit of…steering. I tried to direct him to one of the doors, but he ended up dropping to the floor behind some brooms and mops. At that point, it was easier to pick him up and take him to the front yard, where his anxious parents were flying in circles, making pitiful noises.
I stopped long enough for Mark to take this picture. You can see that the baby is colored a similar plain brown to the mother, though without the wash of orange here and there she usually sports. All the better to remain inconspicuous, and harder for predators to spot. The difference, of course, is that he has a dark beak, in contrast to both parents, which have bright orange ones. When I let him go, he flew straight to the viburnum hedge with his parents hot on his little stubby tail. 🙂 And no, they will not reject any bird or egg handled by a person because they can “smell that a human has touched it.” This is an old wives tale. Very few birds have any sense of smell at all, and replacing fallen babies into a nest will do nothing but make them happy. So that’s one bit of advice you can ignore.
Hopefully, this little guy will continue to thrive and add his voice to the many cardinal songs in our neighborhood.