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What to do if you find a baby or injured bird

Aveschapines

What should I do if I find a baby bird? What if I find a bird that is injured?

Cute, helpless-looking baby or injured birds tug at the heartstrings of every bird lover. We naturally want to jump in and help them, but well-meaning attempts to help sometimes end up hurting the bird. Here are some guidelines to keep that from happening.

BABY BIRDS WITH FEATHERS

  • If you find a bird with feathers all over its body (even though it looks like a baby and/or is being fed by adult birds) it is almost certainly able to fly and has left the nest voluntarily. Babies who have recently left the nest may be less afraid of humans than adults, making it appear that they can’t fly when they can. The best thing to do is to leave the baby where it is; the parents will be back to attend to the baby when you leave.

  • If the bird is in an unsafe area (on a busy road, for example), you can move it to a safe location as close as possible to the place you found the bird. It’s better to remove such dangers as your dog or children than to move the bird.

  • Give the baby and its parents plenty of space and privacy and the parents will almost certainly return to the baby, or the baby will leave on its own. Check back later to reassure yourself that all is well.

BABY BIRDS WITH NO FEATHERS, PIN FEATHERS, OR ONLY PARTIAL FEATHER COVERING

  • If the baby is showing skin without feather covering, it may have fallen from the nest or been removed by weather or a predator. Try to find the nest and put the baby back in it. If you can’t find the nest, you can use a small basket or plastic bowl (with holes punched in the bottom) to make a replacement nest; line it with soft grass and secure it in a safe location, such as a tree branch, as near as possible to where you found the baby. If the baby feels cold to the touch, warm it in your hands before placing it in the nest. Give the baby and parents privacy and check back later to see if the parents return to care for the baby. Do not worry about touching the baby bird; most birds have a very poor sense of smell and will not reject a baby if a human has touched it. Having said that, only handle the baby as much as absolutely necessary to replace it in the nest and let the parents take it from there.

Never give the baby bird food or water. Giving the incorrect diet can do more harm than good.

ABANDONED BABY BIRDS

  • If you are sure the baby has been abandoned and is unable to care for itself, contact your nearest wildlife rehabber. It is illegal in the United States and many other countries to keep wild native birds in captivity; that includes trying to rescue babies, unless you have a license to do so. Caring for a baby bird requires significant knowledge and skill, and almost all amateur attempts to do so, even though they are motivated by caring and concern, fail. Follow the instructions you are given until the bird can be taken to the rehabilitation facility.

  • Here is a link to a list of professional wild bird rehabilitators by state. If you are unable to contact a rehabilitator, contact a veterinarian for advice and a referral to a professional who can help you.

http://www.wildcarebayarea.org/site/DocServer/9-16-10_correction.html?docID=381

INJURED BIRDS

  • If you find a bird that appears to be unable to fly but has no visible injuries, remove any dangers from the immediate area and leave the bird alone to be sure it’s really injured and not trying to distract you or another predator. Some birds use this strategy to protect their eggs and nests. In addition, birds may be stunned after hitting a window but recover after a short rest.

  • If the bird has obvious injuries, contact a professional rehabilitator for help. Follow their instructions until the bird can be taken to the professional facility.

  • Here is a link to a list of professional wild bird rehabilitators by state. If you are unable to contact a rehabilitator, contact a veterinarian for advice and a referral to a professional who can help you.

http://www.wildcarebayarea.org/site/DocServer/9-16-10_correction.html?docID=381

  • If you must move or transport the bird, be extremely careful; many birds have strong bills and sharp claws and can injure you, especially if they are scared. Never attempt to handle a raptor if you don’t have professional training and experience.

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