At this time of the year, many baby animals are beginning to explore the world around them. Up until now, many have been safe in the nest while their parents come and go, much like human parents do as their children grow. Mom and dad or a guardian will go about daily business while the youngsters start to learn skills for becoming adults. In the animal world, it’s not uncommon for parents to leave their babies unattended for periods of time while they go out to forage for a quick meal, or just spend time away to keep would be predators from raiding a nest. Eventually the youngsters will leave the nest to start exploring the big world outside. For young birds, there is a necessary period of growth called the “fledgling” stage. This is a time when they are out of the nest and on the ground on purpose to start to learn about becoming a successful adult. They can’t quite fly because all of the feathers they need for full flight aren’t all there yet. They are usually on the ground hopping around and seem to be injured, but in reality, they aren’t. Mom and dad will still come around to check on them occasionally and feed them after they have foraged around for a meal for the fledgling. Often, well meaning individuals will remove the baby bird from it’s habitat thinking it’s orphaned, but in reality,it is not. If these young birds are picked up and taken away, more than likely mom and dad were hiding in a tree or bush nearby watching what was going on, but were too timid to come out. After all, a big human, even a child-sized human, is quite scary. It’s often in the baby’s best interest to stay out in the wild where mom and dad can teach it the skills it needs to survive to become a successful adult. Mom and dad will bring the right types of foods and help the baby explore the surroundings of the nesting area. Even though there may be a threat of a wandering cat or dog, or even a curious young person, these babies have a better chance of survival if they left alone so the parents can continue the rearing process. In the case of would be invaders, try to keep the household pets and curious children away from the baby for a bit. In a few days, the young bird will most likely have moved on and your family’s normal activities, pets and otherwise, in the yard can resume. The babies on the ground are very much like a human’s teenage son or daughter. If you come across a young bird that can’t quite fly, it’s probably a fledgling and will continue to explore and grow with the guidance of it’s parents if left alone. If the baby happens to be in an unfavorable location such as a road or sidewalk, it’s perfectly acceptable to scoop up the wayward youngster in your hands and place it out of harm’s way in the vicinity where it was found. Birds don’t really have a great sense of smell, so by a human touching it to help, that won’t discourage the parent from coming down to tend to the youngster after the “threat” of a giant human “predator” has moved on away from the baby. Don’t be surprised if when the baby is picked up, there is a commotion nearby as the parents scold from above. Enjoy the moment you took to help the young bird to become an adult by returning it to it’s natural habitat where the parents can teach it to grow up successfully.