As the weather warms and you get out into nature once again, and especially if you’re a bird enthusiast, there’s a good chance you might come across a baby bird that has left the nest but is still too young to fly or stay out of harm’s way.
image credit: flickr(barbara)
Every year in early spring, my non-profit wildlife rehabilitation facility, Covenant Wildlife, fields hundreds of phone calls from people who’ve found a baby bird.
If you’re like most people, you’ll find it difficult to decide what to do (or not do) in this situation.This article is intended to help point you in the right direction for the best possible outcome.
Nestlings on the Ground
If you are concerned that a bird fell from its nest too early, you may try and return the bird to its nest. If the nest has been destroyed or is unreachable, you may substitute a strawberry basket or small box lined with tissue and suspend it from a branch near to where you believe its nest is located.
Birds have a poor sense of smell and very strong parental instincts, which means they will usually continue caring for their young. However, adult birds are cautious after any type of disturbance and it may take several hours before they approach the nestling. During this period it is essential that humans not approach the nestling..
Fledglings on the Ground
image credit: floridagardener.com
Fledglings are typically fully feathered, with a short tail and wings. They are able to walk, hop and flap, and they may attempt short flights, but are still being cared for by the parents.
If you find a fledgling, it should be left alone or at the most placed in a nearby shrub. Keep people and pets away so the parents will continue to care for it until it can fly.
Placing fledglings back into nests is typically only a short-term solution, as they will quickly re-emerge. Moving fledglings to entirely new locations is also ineffective, as they are still dependent on their parents for survival and will quickly starve.