It's the time of year when nestlings are fledging...they're starting to get their flight feathers and either voluntarily or involuntarily leaving the nest. It's probably the most vulnerable period of their lives. They are out of the safety of the nest and not fully able to fly to safety from predators.
When i pulled into the driveway last night there was an awful lot of squawking going on in and around the apple tree that hangs over the driveway. I got out of the car quietly and stood there until i could see who was squawking...from past experience, i knew this was all about a fledgling.
Sure enough, there in a nearby sassafras tree was a large, gawky, greyish fledgling...short tailfeathers, large beak, large feet, fluffy tuft of feathers on his/her head--a catbird fledgling! Both parents were nearby trying to distract anybody who would listen away from their ungainly child who was hopping from branch to branch and then half flying, half falling to the next place. Several grackles and a female cardinal were in the apple tree...i don't think they had any ill intentions toward the baby, but the catbird parents were taking no chances.
This fledgling seemed like he/she had a good chance of surviving since it was almost flying and had two alert parents guarding it.
This is the time of year we always get calls at the Audubon Society about baby birds found on the ground...usually the best bet is to leave them alone. If they're fledglings, their parents are nearby and will feed them on the ground (and encourage them to fly into the bushes where they're safer) until they're ready to fly more strongly on their own.
The catbirds usually are feeding young in their nest when i'm getting my vegetable bed ready in the spring (mid to late May) and it's always funny seeing them waiting impatiently for me to turn aside so that they can swoop down and grab any insects or grubs that i've turned up, which they hurry off to their nestlings.
And now the babies are big enough that they're fledging and soon enough will be flying around the yard on their own.