When 70-mph storm winds blew a Mississippi Kite nest out of the tree next to where I live, it was inevitable that I received a call about a fledgling kite the neighbor found on the ground in her yard. Like most finders of “baby” animals, she wondered how to rescue it. I told her to leave it alone, that the parents surely knew where it was and would take care of it as best they could. And before we quit talking, an adult kite arrived with food.
We backed off a hundred feet, and the parent fed its youngster. Kites normally eat and feed their offspring cicadas, dragonflies, and other large insects, but this time, it brought a plucked bird, possibly to up ante for a youngster out of the nest. The young kite devoured the entire offering, amounting to several ounces of meat. The parent kite stayed only for a minute before returning to the sky.
The danger to a young bird like that is predation by a passing dog or cat. Since its wing feathers were already growing, the receipt of ample food could ensure its survival on the ground. But I’m not sure the outcome in this case. The young kite just disappeared next day without sign of disturbance or attack.
Even so, leaving it to its parents was the right choice. Each year, KDWPT gets lots of phone calls about picking up orphaned animals for rehabilitation. Rehab centers are usually full, and with the exception of truly rare and endangered birds and animals, it’s best to leave young wherever they are. Few people have the skills or resources to feed and care for babies properly, and it’s against the law to possess such animals without a permit, no matter how well-intentioned.