The bees and the birds at UCLA

Getting emails from central administration is often a joyless part of university life, but today’s email was interesting, informative, and even delightful.

In the Spring and Summer it is common to find young birds away from their nests. Often concerned students or staff will think the birds need rescuing, but it depends. Below is a note from one of our bird researchers on campus and a helpful article from Audubon. A couple photos attached from campus showing nestlings versus fledglings. Please share this information with your departments, and let them know that if they are not sure they can call or text me: []. Our office works with a network of wildlife rehabilitators and can help transport wildlife in need of rescue. In addition, with everything starting to bloom, you may see bees around campus. See below for instructions if you discover a hive or swarm.

Bee Information:
Sometimes bees can swarm or build hives on campus. UCLA recognizes the critical role pollinators like bees play in our food system and ecology. We work with a company to ensure that bees are live captured and relocated and not killed. See photo attached of a swarm removal from on a car. If you discover a hive on campus or swarm that needs removal please call Facilities Management Trouble call at [yyy.yyy.yyyy], they will coordinate the response.

Bird Information:
One of our bird researchers on campus notes: “Knowing when a young bird is “supposed” to be out of the nest vs. when it’s not supposed to is key when dealing with these sorts of situations. It’s important to remember that nests are unsafe places to be; it’s easier for a predator to kill four chicks that are in the same cup of sticks and hair than four chicks that are in four different parts of their parents’ territory. As a result, parents will push their chicks out of the nest before they’re fully able to fly, and take care of itself.

* If you have to chase after the chick to catch it, it’s old enough to let it’s parents take care of it outside the nest. If it’s out in the open, or in a dangerous place try herding it to the nearest shrub or other protected place. Mom and dad know where the fledgling is and will feed it discretely.
* If the bird is sitting upright and is alert, it probably has recently left the nest. Check the wings, if the wings are fully or partially feathered (as opposed to being in gray-looking sheaths), it’s old enough to be outside of the nest. If it’s out in the open, or in a dangerous place, you can move it to a place nearby with greater safety.
* Most “baby” birds you find will fit in above. In both cases, they are where they need to be. Even if it looks like they’re abandoned, they aren’t, the parents are just making sure not to lead predators to their offspring. Trying to rescue it means a lot more work and stress for you and the wildlife rehabber you take it to, when the parents will almost certainly do a better job for free.

So: when should you interfere with nature?

* Very young nestlings (ie mostly naked, no or few feathers, can’t sit up, appears helpless). It might have fallen out of the nest; if so look around to see if you can find the nest. If so, put it back, if not, follow the directions in the article cited below, and then bring the nestling to a licensed rehabber.
* The chick is obviously injured (ie broken wings or legs.) In this case, bring the chick to a licensed rehabber. If you know or suspect the chick was grabbed by a cat, bring it to a rehabber immediately! This is because cat mouths are breeding grounds for all sorts of nasty bacterial that kill birds, and any bird that has been exposed to cat teeth needs to be given antibiotics ASAP.

Some additional information can be found in this helpful article from Audubon, When You Should—and Should Not—Rescue Baby Birds:

Thank you,

Nurit Katz
Chief Sustainability Officer
Executive Officer of Facilities Management

Images are (from top to bottom) junco juvenile, bee removal, junco nestlings, fledgling starlings.

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