Imagine enjoying the lovely sunset with your family at the patio. Suddenly, you find a baby bird hopping close to the edge of your yard. As you move closer to observe, you’re struck by its cuteness and vulnerability. Of course, you feel this persistent urge to pick it up and care for it.
But before you proceed, hang on a minute! Your decision will have a profound impact on the survival of the bird. That’s why you have to properly assess the situation before helping out. This post lays out a guideline for the right course of action based on specific conditions of finding a baby bird.
Is the baby bird a nestling?
Nestlings are easily recognizable by their lack of feathers. By definition, they are too young to leave the nest because they cannot survive in the open. If it’s apparent that the chick fell off its nest and looks healthy, you can put on a glove and put it back with its siblings in the nest, with minimal disturbance. Wearing a glove is essential to prevent the spread of disease.
On the other hand, if it looks unhealthy or injured, it might have been discarded by its mother. Birds reject sick nestlings so they can focus on the healthy ones. If that’s the case, you should find a wildlife rehabilitator to see what can be done.
Is the baby bird a fledgling?
Fledglings typically have all their feathers but their shorter tail and wing feathers distinguish them from adults.
Robins, crows, scrub jays, owls, and many other bird species leave their nest two to five days early, especially when it becomes cramped. During this period, they develop their last few feathers, stretch their wings, and develop survival instincts. This is part of a natural process and is even crucial for their development. Their parents still cater to them during this stage. So, a fledgling should be left alone unless it is injured, in which case you should find a wildlife rehabilitator.
Is the baby bird an orphan?
Sometimes, parent birds are killed by predators, sickness, or accidents, leaving their babies abandoned. However, before concluding, you have to observe the baby bird to confirm that it’s truly orphaned. Once you’re sure the parents are gone, the right course of action is to pick it up and provide it with warmth in a safe and quiet location. After that, find a wildlife rehabilitator that can take proper care of it.
Never attempt to feed a baby bird. They require a special diet, so feeding them can cause more harm than good. The wildlife rehabilitation center can take care of it.
What You Shouldn’t Do
When you find a baby bird, you shouldn’t be too quick to pick it up to raise it in captivity. By separating it from its parents, you drastically reduce its chances of survival in the wild. Moreover, in many states, it’s illegal to do so. Raising baby birds requires specialized knowledge that only a licensed wildlife rehabilitator has.
What to Do
If it’s a healthy fledgling hopping around, your job is to make the vicinity safe. Ensure that you take your pets, especially cats, indoors until the baby bird leaves. If you’re certain that the bird is either injured, abandoned, sick, or orphaned, you should promptly contact your wildlife rehabilitation center to help the baby bird survive.
If you have a bird problem around your home, find a professional to help safely and quickly move these animals.
This is a collaborative post. All views and text are my own.