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White-crowned sparrow nestlings receive treatment at PROWLS

White-crowned sparrow

From two different clutches, one near Assumption School and another above Town Centre Mall, six white-crowned sparrow nestlings were found on the ground calling for their mother. They had all abandoned the nest, which is built on the ground, possibly because they were acutely uncomfortable, being infested with maggots.

When the mother is out gathering food to feed the nestlings (the father has long since disappeared), they are exposed and vulnerable.

One danger is flies laying eggs on the nestlings’ tiny bodies. These eggs hatch into maggots which then burrow into and under their skin.

PROWLS president Merrilee Prior removed more than 50 maggots, pulling them out with tweezers, especially from the heads and shoulders. The parasites are not keen to be pulled out and so it must be done slowly and carefully. It took at least six hours.

After this traumatic experience, even though the nestlings were now more comfortable and seemingly ready to survive, out of the initial six, three thrived and three died.

The survivors grabbed onto life. Extremely scruffy looking and remaining so as their feathers slowly filled in the bald spots left by the maggots, they were incredibly active and longing for release. That was a happy day.