This is rather a belated post but wanted to let you know that I left Orlando on Monday with a clear conscience having rescued a tiny little moorhen chick from a certain early death. On Sunday we saw a little black smudge of fluff wandering lost and alone by the lake, cheeping loudly and plaintively.
I am no bird expert but remember being told it is best to leave baby birds to be found by their parents, but it’s hard to hear that pitiful little cheeping and do nothing. So after half an hour, as the ospreys were circling overhead and the great white egrets had turned their steady gaze in its direction and were sharpening their rapier bills, I went off to look for the family.
They were pottering about, much further down the shore, quite oblivious to this missing baby so I gathered it up and took it along to join them. It was all feet and fluff, wriggling its huge feet in my hands, weighing nothing and pecking so ineffectually at this its most benign captor.
The reunion was predictably sweet and affectionate (thank goodness). The mother did a double take, was she counting up the others? … then rushed over to reclaim this odd little thing which chirped, splashed and waved its skinny little red featherless wings in sheer delight ..it would melt the very hardest heart.
She immediately started looking for some food for the prodigal ….
This I think is a snail being offered.
Then a fish, which 2 chicks tugged at for a while until she reclaimed it and fed it whole to one chick. I thought it was a bit like us having to swallow a whole cod.
So the question is, can moorhens count? Do they even notice if one chick is missing? Do they normally go searching or is this moorhen just a feckless and inattentive mother. Last year we watched 6 goslings reduced to just 2 over about a month. I hope these 7 will still be together when I return.