Bird frozen in place
June 6, 2019 2:21 AM   Subscribe

I found a bird on the path outside my office building. It would not move from its spot. What was going on?

I walked up to it, and it stayed where it was. It wasn't visibly hurt, and it seemed to be breathing and blinking normally. However, it wouldn't move a muscle, even when I was very close.

I prodded it, but it wouldn't walk or flap away.
I managed to cover my hands and gently pick it up to move it a few feet away from the footpath. Still, it barely flapped when I did this.

It's the right time of year for fledglings, but are they normally so unresponsive?

Here is a picture of the bird (juvenile blackbird?), and this is in southern UK.
posted by Gordafarin to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
Concussed or stunned, from a window strike.
posted by the Real Dan at 2:31 AM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

It's about the time of year for fledgling blackbirds (and the two other common thrushes, the mistle thrush and the song thrush) to be out and about. We've had a couple in our garden that match your description in terms of behaviour.

My guess is that there was probably a parent nearby, waiting for you to leave. The one I watched last week was bringing food to the fledgling, which mostly just sat still in one place, or occasionally moved to another spot nearby. If there are humans or other dangers about, the parent tends to stay away until the coast is clear. Eventually the fledgling in our garden hopped away to another garden.

Blackbirds spend much of their time on the ground foraging. What I've read suggests that the fledglings don't fly much at first, but will eventually adopt the adult behaviour.
posted by pipeski at 2:46 AM on June 6, 2019

Didnt move at all since camouflage is it's only defense. On the gravel since it's less conspicuous there than on grass. Common behavior for babies, including, e.g. fawns.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:53 AM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yes, forgot to mention what SemiSalt says about camouflage. Much less of a target for the local cats if it stays still.
posted by pipeski at 4:59 AM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I recently watched a mother robin feeding her fledgling in a park. It was animated and loudly chirping while she was feeding it, and when she went further away, it froze in place like you're describing. I was worried about it because people were walking unleashed dogs nearby (PSA: this is another reason dogs should be on leashes).
posted by pinochiette at 5:55 AM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

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