Spring showers and summer storms often blow young birds out of their nests — but sometimes the parents do the job.
Either way, it’s human nature to want to help a baby bird on the ground. However, help is not always needed, said Liz Clark, a zookeeper at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo.
“Sometimes you really do have to let nature take its course,” she said.
The zoo’s raptor rehabilitation program recently released two great horned owls back into nature. Four young kestrels will be released in the near future.
Clark said the owls were nestlings when they were delivered to the zoo in mid-April. They were covered with down feathers and not ready to fly.
“They probably got blown out of their nest,” Clark said. As of last week, “they are both back in the wild where they should be.”
Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin noted that two kestrels were delivered to the zoo on June 13 in a section of a power pole — a first for Great Bend’s raptor rehab. Sunflower Electric Power Corporation workers were replacing old power poles in Medicine Lodge when they discovered a kestrel nest inside an old woodpecker nest inside a pole.
“They weren’t able to safely remove the chicks on their own so they brought us the section of pole with the chicks inside,” Hamlin said. “We were able to enlarge the entrance and safely remove the chicks. The chicks appear to be in good condition and as soon as their feathers have finished developing we are confident that we will be able to release them.”
Two additional kestrels were found during a baseball tournament at Veterans Memorial Park, Clark said. All of the birds will be released soon.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Boise State University biological sciences researchers a four-year, $1.7 million grant to monitor the effects of climate change on American kestrels and develop a modeling system that can be used broadly to predict how other avian species will react to changes in weather patterns. Great Bend’s zoo will take part in the Iowa study by sending breast feathers from this year’s nestlings.
Clark said the top three species delivered to the raptor rehab are owls, kestrels and Mississippi kites. The kites will be hatching soon, she added.