02 July 2015

Birders Help Fledgling Vireos at Nebraska Park

Courtesy of Luther Haige. Photographs by Joe Manning.

"Joe Manning and I spent a little time fishing today at Memphis State Recreation Area today while Sam did his usual bird survey of the area. After about three hours of birding, Sam found three extremely small Yellow-throated Vireo chicks (not fledglings) lying on the ground under a tree. [I don't know how this guy does it. These birds were about an inch tall and two inches long. Two of the chicks did not have their eyes open most of the time we were on the scene. Any other person would have walked right by the chicks without noticing them.]

"The original nest was about 40 feet up in a nearby tree. There was no way we could get the chicks back up into the nest. The parents were present and continued to feed the chicks even while we were standing about eight feet away from the chicks. We fabricated a replacement nest from an empty strawberry container (clear plastic with small holes for drainage in it) and lined it with dry grass. We fastened it up in the tree about 10 feet off of the ground (all the higher we could get it without a ladder) with some old tent rope we found in a nearby dumpster.

"The parents continued to visit the chicks and feed them as we did our work. The largest of the three chicks was a little trouble-maker. She did not want to sit still. I'm guessing she was responsible for getting the chicks into their situation. When I put the chicks up in the make-shift nest, that little trouble-maker hopped up my index finger and out of the make-shift nest twice. Each time she got herself in a more precarious position.

"After making sure all three chicks were in the nest, Joe and I returned to our fishing, and Sam accompanied us. Two hours later, we returned to the nest to check on the chicks. We found our little trouble-maker friend impossibly wedged between two small branches about three inches below the nest. I climbed up on the top of the car one more time to rescue her again. I think she was so exhausted from her this last predicament that she seemed very content to be safely back in the make-shift nest. Mom and dad were still vigilant and were busy bringing food to the new nesting location."

Young Yellow-throated Vireo