by Donna Lewis
A few days ago I heard one of my baby purple martins screaming. It was on the ground calling to its parents. It either fell out or was pushed out.
Martins are the largest and heaviest of all the swallows. So, while they are excellent at soaring, they are not good at going to the ground. The entire colony got into the rescue attempt. All the adults were flying over the baby trying to get him or her to fly.
This is the reason I look at the babies as soon as I can. This way I know how old the first set of eggs were when laid. It takes 28 days for a baby to have enough feathers to take its first flight. I guessed that this baby was about 26 days old
So he was close but not quite there. He needed a few more days.
I could not just lower the gourd rack and pop him back in. Doing this when many of the other babies were the same age could cause many more of them to jump out. Then I would really have trouble.
This year five rat snakes attempted to climb the pole and have my Martins for lunch. So, I knew if he stayed on the ground too long, something would eat him.
The first night he was on the ground, I put out a five-gallon bucket with a towel over it and a rock inside. He immediately went to it for protection. The adults saw this and again flew around him. They did not attempt to feed him or give him water. This is tough love.
The next morning I was out early, and he was still alive and looking at me. So, I left him alone.
I watched over the next four hours, and he left the area around the gourd rack, flying about ten inches high and started out across our pasture. I knew that was dangerous, for sure.
So I put up an open bird feeder on a shepherd’s hook and set him on it. The adults saw this, and once again tried to encourage him to take that first leap. After four hours, he got his nerve up and jumped, flying low until he gained some altitude, and he was off to the sky.
I was so happy!! This usually does not happen. But this day, all was well.
Right now there are many baby birds on the ground. So, be careful mowing for a few weeks until they are in the trees.