A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how humans often prematurely intervene when finding recently fledged or baby birds. All too often fledglings are found and presumed to be alone when the parents are in reality close by and attentive.
A few weeks ago, I was made aware of a pair of green heron chicks that had lost their nest. It was obvious intervention was needed in that case but how the story plays out illustrates how restraint is still the best way to go.
The green heron nest was inadvertently destroyed during the clearing of some land in south Charlotte. Two very young chicks survived but were way too young to be clambering around outside of a nest. They were on the ground and almost certainly would have fallen to a predator had an alert neighbor not taken notice.
The good news was the adult herons had located the chicks and were attending them as they tottered tenuously on the cut brush. The chicks were getting fed and apparently were being protected effectively by the parents.
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Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (CWR) was called and a makeshift nest was fashioned out of a wicker basket lined with some sticks and wood chips then fastened in a nearby tree. The basket was set on May 14; today’s photo was taken on May 20. As you can see, the chicks are healthy and gaining weight. The parents accepted the new accommodations, continued feeding and protecting the chicks, and seem well on their way to fledging two green herons in a month or so.
The neighbor and CWR staff did consider having that organization take the chicks but I think the results of leaving them with the parents confirm the right decision was made.
I think it is interesting that the chicks and adults accepted the wicker basket and have remained in it for over two weeks. Those chicks are old enough and more than able to leave it if they are not comfortable. Who knows, maybe they consider it an upgrade from the previous nest.
And I applaud Carolina Waterfowl Rescue for implementing an alternative to taking the chicks back to their rehabilitative facility. It has a great mission and rehabs hundreds of young birds every year, but their staff recognizes the value in leaving the raising of young to the parents whenever possible.
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.