THE successful rescue of a fledgling tawny frogmouth at Parkerville Primary School has emphasised the importance of leaving baby birds near the site of their nest says local ornithologist Simon Cherriman.
Mr Cherriman said the orphaned bird, which had taken a premature plunge from its tiny nest, had itself in a flap on the ground when it was discovered by school students, whose teacher Aggie Murphy placed it in a box.
Susan Hawson, an early childhood teacher at the school, then rang Mr Cherriman for advice, who kept the young bird for a few hours before returning to look for its nest and parents at dusk.
“Searching for the camouflaged nest in Jarrah trees overhanging the school climbing frames I eventually spied an adult frogmouth brooding a second chick on its nest about 5m up,” he said.
“I scaled the tree and secured the box containing its sibling to the main trunk.
“I was thrilled when the adult began calling to its missing youngster in the semi-darkness.
“The orphan then began flap-walking its way along the limb, back to its family.”
Mr Cherriman said with spring in full swing, many of our feathered friends have small chicks making unsuccessful attempts at their first flight.
“People finding them grounded commonly make the wrong assumption that the birds have been abandoned, and take them to the nearest vet or wildlife carer,” he said.
“However, this ‘kidnapping’ greatly reduces the birds’ chance of survival.
“Provided they are not injured, the best way to help such animals is to place them in a box or basket in an elevated position (about 1.5-2m above the ground), safe from predators, where their parents will continue to look after them until they can fly.
“There is also a widespread misconception that handling birds leaves human smell which will cause parents to abandon them. This is totally untrue.”
Mr Cherriman said the tawny frogmouth, named after its giant beak, was a type of nightjar – nocturnal birds similar in appearance (but not closely related) to owls.
“These amazing birds provide a free Perth Hills pest-control service, feeding on crickets, moths, mice and – you guessed it – occasionally frogs,” he said.
“But they carry out their job best when left where they belong: wild and free.”