Little, Green, Minnow-Eating Machine!

A long-necked cutie made his way into VINS Wildlife Services on June 27. The fledgling green heron, with his bright yellow legs and downy feathers, is a bit of a rarity in Wildlife Services (although they are found throughout Vermont). Although we’re sorry he’s injured, we all appreciate the opportunity to work with this wading bird and see him up close.

The young heron was attacked by a dog. Initially the heron was brought to a rehabilitator in northern Vermont, but was transferred here where we could better accommodate the bird’s needs.

The heron has a fracture in his tibiotarsus — a bone in the bird’s leg below the femur. The leg has been splinted by Wildlife Services staff, and the heron is doing well. He’s being fed whole minnows throughout the day. His splint is due to come off on July 5 so that we can check on the healing progress of the bone. In the video above, you can see the splint as well as a special shoe we made to keep his toes flat while the splint is on. Also, note the minnows swimming in one of the bowls beside him!

And in other news…

Nestling American Kestrel: Abducted!

A lot of the babies that come into VINS Wildlife Services are considered “abducted, healthy” nestlings or fledglings. These are the birds that have been well-cared for by the bird parents, but who a human figured was injured because the youngster wasn’t in a nest. It’s an easy mistake to make, as it can be difficult to discern whether a young bird on the ground needs help. Often times, however, a baby bird on the ground just needs to be re-nested or is simply fledging — meaning the bird is trying out his wings, and doesn’t quite have the whole flying thing down.

We use the term “abducted” as essentially a bird was stolen, or bird-napped, from its proper habitat. However, we realize that people are just trying to do the right thing and help an animal, and there’s no maliciousness involved in the bird’s “abduction.” For more info on when to rescue a baby bird and when to leave it alone, read our Baby Bird Facts.

The American kestrel featured in the video above is considered an “abducted” nestling. He was found sitting on a family’s front porch. When brought in for examination, Wildlife Services’ staff deemed the bird in good health — a bird who should have been re-nested with its siblings and parents. Since the bird is healthy and since it’s always best to have the proper parents for a baby bird, we are going to try to re-nest the kestrel with another group of baby kestrels known to be nesting on a local man’s property. As long as the birds are the same age, the mother and father kestrel should accept the newbie as their own.


  1. Anonymous on August 4, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Visited your centre last week and saw how well the green heron was doing. Will soon be out of there, I'd say. Couldn't say the same for those little swifts, though.
    I think you are doing a great job, educationally!!

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