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What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird: How to Help

what to do if you find a baby bird
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Pixabay

If you’ve found a baby bird that fell out of its nest, you’re probably wondering what to do next. We’ll tell you what to do if you find a baby bird, and how you can help give it the best chance of survival.

If you’ve found a baby bird that’s barely moving or has visible wounds, you’re probably trying to figure out what you can do to help. Maybe it encountered a cat or another animal, has fallen out of its nest, or even flown into a window. 

It’s great that you want to help the injured bird, but you should be aware of what helping it really entails. Here, you’ll find tips on how to proceed if a baby bird fell out of its nest, or is otherwise injured.  

Identifying Baby Birds: Nestling or Fledgling 

found baby bird
Fledglings have a mixture of adult feathers and baby fluff. People often think they need help and take them to rescue centers, when they should actually be left alone. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Sasquillion )

If you find a baby bird, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, you should identify the baby bird first before trying to help. Depending on the age, the bird may just be exploring its surroundings. Always observe a bird before you try to help it – that way you can be sure whether it really needs help or not.

  • Nestlings are essentially naked, except for a few feathers. They are too young to leave the nest and are still unable to fly. Nestlings do need your help. 
  • Fledglings have a mix of baby fluff feathers and adult feathers. They’re learning how to fly, which is why you may find them hopping around on the ground. Fledglings generally don’t need your help, so can safely leave them be.

Remember, while you might want to do something to help, it’s not always the best idea to interfere with Mother Nature. A baby bird has the highest chance of survival in the wild with its parents.

Put Nestlings Back in the Nest

baby bird fell out of nest
Nestlings look fairly naked, except for a bit of fluff. They are unable to fend for themselves and may need your help. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - 42 North )

If you’ve found a baby bird that fell out of its nest, the best thing to do is try to put it back. Look for the nest near where you found the baby bird, and wearing gloves, carefully lift the bird and gently place it back inside. Then watch the nest for a while and see if the bird’s parents come back to feed it. 

If you can’t locate a nest nearby, or if you can’t reach it, PETA advises the following steps:

  • Create a nest out of something bowl-shaped that allows air to circulate, like a basket or sieve. Pad it with paper towels, and place the found baby bird inside. Gloves are important, as even baby birds can be carrying ticks, lice, bacteria, and other parasites.
  • Attach the nest to a nearby tree, out of harm’s way. This enables the parents to locate and feed the baby bird.
  • Monitor the found baby bird for a few hours to make sure the parents come back for it. If they don’t return for it, follow the steps below.

Important: Don’t attempt to feed or care for a baby bird yourself.

Found A Baby Bird? Rescuing Injured or Orphaned Birds

What to do if you find an injured baby bird that won’t survive if you place it back in its nest? In this case, it’s best to seek professional help. Wearing gloves, gently pick it up and place it in a box lined with paper towels. Keep the bird warm and contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.

This also applies to injured adult birds, like birds that have flown into windows. However, be especially careful when you pick them up as they might get scared and fight back with their claws or beak. It’s always a good idea to wear gloves to protect yourself and the bird. 

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Babyvogel gefunden: So kannst du helfen

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