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New Yorkers Climb Fire Escape to Rescue Baby Blue Jay

The first blue jay fledgling fell out of the nest built precariously on a New York fire escape this afternoon. It attracted a crowd of neighbors, who put it back in its nest and installed a plastic tarp under the whole set up.

Just yesterday I put up flyers explaining the blue jay babies were up there and it would be normal if they would fall out. If it were a forest instead of Fifth Street, they’d be fine. The parents would feed them for a couple days on the ground. The parents, however, made a really unfortunate real estate choice. Below their nest is sidewalk,  street and a tiny tree pit–no grass or bushes or any other baby bird amenity. And thousands of helpful New Yorkers walk by every day. Somebody would pick it up and bring it to their vet. That’s what happened to a blue jay nest in the next block two years ago. The mom spent weeks looking for them.

So this afternoon I got a call about the flyer from a neighbor. The one bird on the sidewalk wasn’t not fully feathered and was weak and skinny. It looked way too young to be out of the nest to me. People label New Yorkers as harsh, but soon there were six of us trying to figure out how to get the bird back on the fire escape, ringing doorbells, taping on windows.

My friend Pierre found a long board and tripped the fire escape ladder so it would fall. Generally this kind of thing is frowned upon in the city, but Pierre bravely climbed up and replaced the baby. While I was getting some clear plastic, the mother jay returned and swooped at Jonah, a 10-year-old good samaritan. Pierre and I basically lined the fire escape and left some raw peanuts for the blue jays’ trouble.

So far, so good. The mom returned, ate peanuts and sat on the nest. I got a call from the people who live in the blue jay apartment. They’d been worried about the birds and didn’t mind our clamoring over their fire escape.

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