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What Should You Do if You Find a Baby Bird?

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What Should You Do if You Find a Baby Bird?


Spring has sprung, and for birds, that means one thing — it’s baby season! The babies of most species of wild birds will hatch in the coming months, and these adorable critters will be on their way to learning the ways of the world. But just like humans, baby birds can face some serious obstacles on their path to adulthood. Injuries, human encroachment and abandonment are all potential consequences for these helpless creatures. It’s tempting, then, when coming across a seemingly abandoned or injured baby bird, to want to help it in any way possible.

So what steps should you take if you find a baby bird? Read on for tips on what to do, and what not to do.

Earlier: 5 Incredible Things Dogs Sense About You


Figure Out How Mature the Bird is.

How far is the bird in its development? You don’t need a Ph.D. in ornithology to figure that out, and the answer has a huge impact on what actions you should take.

Hatchling or Nestling: These birds were born very, very recently, and are entirely dependent on their parents to fulfill their basic needs. They might have a light down of feathers, or no feathers at all. If you see a nestling on the ground, it probably isn’t capable of walking or hopping, and almost certainly isn’t capable of flying.

Fledgling (pictured above): A fledgling, on the other hand, usually has almost all of its feathers. They can walk and hop on their own, and might be able to fly, though they aren’t very good at it yet. The bird pictured above is a fledgling.

See Also: 8 Unbelievable Bridges (Slideshow)

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
10:05AM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

I too disagree about giving water. I found a fledgling crow in the parking lot where I work. It was extremely hot that day and he was a fuzzy little ball lying on the searing hot pavement. As I observed him, I noticed he had an injured leg and foot. I got a towel and some cool water, wrapped him in the towel, sprinkled water over his little body and dribbled some from above into his beak as I imagine his mama would do. He was very hot and thirsty and seemed relieved. I waited on a cool spot on the grass under shade of a tree with him, wrapped the towel around him like a little nest and sang softly to him as we waited for animal rescue to arrive. I named him Little Rascal. They first tried to locate his mama as determined by where I found him. When unable to do so they brought him to the shelter. He was transferred to wild care. When I called to check on him, I was told that he had degenerative bone disease and was never going to be able to fly. So they had to euthanize him. It was heartbreaking but at least he knew a little kindness during his brief time on this earth. If you see another in need, do not look away. Do something. He who saves a single life saves the world entire.

1:55AM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

I agree with the posts made by Kamia T. and Angela M. I hope people aren't guided by everything in this article - the worst being suspending the little bird in a container in the tree ???

I've saved a few birds in my time and it is very rewarding to see them rehabilitated to the point where they fly away. One dove I rescued kept coming back and landing on the porch railing as if it had found a new home. It did make me feel appreciated as I had found it hiding away and scared of being attacked by surrounding hungry seagulls.

11:36AM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

I don't agree with the instruction to NEVER feed or provide water. Several times I've found stunned hummers, and dipping their beaks in the feeder has helped them recover. Plus, if you're like me, there is NO rehabilitator in my entire half of the state, so you do have to do what you can to help them if they're ill. Often just quiet time will help -- especially if they're stunned from hitting a window.

2:21AM PST on Dec 29, 2013

If you are interested in actually raising nestlings and fledglings, join your local wildlife carer group, take a course and learn how to do it. As a long time wildlife carer in Australia, I can confirm that it is very rewarding when you watch your 'babies' fly away.

7:20AM PST on Nov 29, 2013


1:01AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

find a sick animal or a bird then get it to the vets quick smart and wrap it up in a towel to keep it warm. You do the same if it was a human.... ring a Dr/hospital etc.

8:13AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Suspending a baby that has not yet fledged above the ground would not be a good idea as mama has no way to transport baby, unless perhaps it is a bird of prey, and I would suspect that they do not carry their chicks either...Find the nest and place the baby in it, however for one that has begun to fly short distances this is preferable especially if there are predators about, also mama birds attend closely to their fledglings so she should be around somewhere, observe from a distance if possible...Good article overall...Thanks.

11:20AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

thank you 3/6

5:51AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013


3:07AM PDT on May 26, 2013

thank you

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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