Here is the baby American Robin we kept cool during the heat wave, considerably grown up into an adorable fledgling. I photographed it a few days ago, just after it left the nest. As you can see, it was sitting in the middle of our lawn, looking innocent and vulnerable. The temptation to pick up this baby was compelling, but I resisted. I could hear its parent nearby in a tree, giving soft alarm calls. I knew it would be cared for and my job was to back off and let the parent do its job.
So many times fledglings like this are scooped up by well-meaning people, convinced the fledgling has been adandoned. What a tragedy. If only they knew how to back up and observe from a distance, keep kids and cats indoors, and let the parents care for the fledgling and lead it to cover.
As it happened, a short while later Daddy Robin was seen feeding this baby, who had fluttered up on a 4 ft. high rock. The following day the fledgling was farther back in the woods. We watched Daddy foraging on our lawn, mouth stuffed Puffin-like, with juicy worms lined up in his bill, meant for this fledgling. The female Robin, meanwhile, had taken the other two fledglings from this brood to a different area of our property.
By the way, if you ever do find a truly abandoned fledgling or nestling, (confirmed by observing it for quite a while to be sure no parent is involved), you should know it is not legal for you to keep and raise a native bird. Bring the fledgling to a licensed bird rehabilitator.
Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2006