A White-tailed Kite chick that fell or jumped out of its nest before it could fly ended up helpless on the ground early this morning, but a combination of park visitors saved it.
The chick perched precariously in the runner’s gravel trail alongside the paved path on the south side of the park, near the porta-potties by the hotel. The helpless chick would have been chomped by a dog or trampled by a runner without the handful of people standing around it. One of those people was Claudia Kawczynska, editor of The Bark magazine. On the sound track of the video you may be able to hear a heated exchange between Claudia and the owner of an illegally off-leash yellow Lab that lunged dangerously close to the bird.
For advice, I telephoned the photographer John Davis, whose work has appeared here. John is a raptor expert and has frequently photographed the kite family to which this fledgling belongs. He advised to wrap the bird in a towel and carry it across the street into the tall grass. Its parents would find it there, protect it, and feed it until it could fly. With Claudia’s help, I used my nylon vest to capture the bird, as shown on the video. I carried it into the tall grass across Spinnaker Way, where it was safe from dogs and runners. I had to leave before I could see what would happen next, but I forwarded the bird’s new location to John.
Shortly after noon, I received an email from John, who reported that he found the chick under attack by crows. Neither its mother nor its father were present to protect it. He suspects that the male kite may have met with foul play and the female is preoccupied with her other two chicks and simply unable to save the fallen fledgling. Normally a human shouldn’t intervene, but under these circumstances there was no alternative. So John took the chick to Lindsay Wildlife Hospital in Walnut Creek, where it will get proper care and feeding.
Updated 5/3: Lindsay Hospital found no injuries on the fledgling and returned it to John. The next day, John managed to return it to its family. He was also able to confirm that the male parent is OK.