What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird?
Spring and summer are the nesting seasons for most birds, and concerned watchers often find chicks outside the nest and seemingly alone. When you find a baby bird, knowing what to do can help you care for it properly and have a better chance of survival.
If you find a young bird alone on the ground or far from its nest, you must first determine if it is, in fact, a baby in need of help.
Many young songbirds leave the nest 2 to 5 days before they can fly, and the parents still care for them, feed them and take care of their safety.
A chick will have almost fully formed feathers, although its wings and tail may be short, and it will be able to fly or flap for short distances. With these characteristics, the chicks require little more than a little intervention from concerned bird watchers.
When you find a bird
If you find a baby bird that needs help, there are several steps to making sure it receives the best care.
1. Observe the bird
Before touching or stressing the bird in any way, see if it can take care of itself or if the bird's parents are taking care of it. Often times when a human sees a baby bird, he cannot see the close parents who are ready and willing to feed and protect their baby bird. It may take half an hour or more for the bird's parents to return with the baby, so patience is essential.
2. Intervene as little as possible
In the case of chicks, simply moving the bird to a place that is sheltered and protected from direct sunlight is the best option to help it. Younger birds may need more help, but it is always best to interfere with the birds in a minimal way.
3. Return the bird to the nest
The best place for a baby bird is its own nest. If the chick is too young to leave the nest, carefully pick it up and return it to the nest. If you cannot find the nest, or if it is inaccessible or destroyed, line a small basket, such as a berry basket, with tissue paper or grass clippings and place it on the tree as close to the nest location as possible.
Make sure the basket is secure (nail it to the tree if necessary) so the bird doesn't fall out of it. Bird parents will listen to their young and find them easily, and since most birds have bad smells, they will not abandon them because they have been touched.
It may take an hour or more for cautious adults to approach the baby again, but they will eventually return to caring for the child.
4. Keep the bird safe
If the bird is in imminent danger due to a damaged nest, predators, or other unsafe conditions, or if it is visibly injured or ill, it will need immediate help.
Carefully place the bird in a small box lined with tissues, paper towels, or similar material and cover the top of the box with newspaper or towel.
If necessary, keep the bird indoors in a quiet and safe place until outside conditions improve or a wildlife rehabilitator can take the bird in for proper care.
Tips on what to do when finding little birds
To give baby birds the best chance of survival when you find them:
Tip#1: Stress the birds as little as possible. Avoid excessive handling, loud noises, or unfamiliar conditions and keep them close to where they were found in case the parents return. Keep children and pets away from young birds.
Tip #2: Always wear gloves when handling young birds. Even baby birds can carry mites, lice, ticks, bacteria, and other nasty parasites that can be transmitted to humans. After handling a bird, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Tip #3: Do not give the puppies food or water. While this may seem counterintuitive to helping baby birds, baby birds have precise dietary needs that cannot be met with food scraps, bird seeds, or other foods.
Young birds need live insects for proteins to develop properly and their parents feed them 3-4 times every hour to meet this need.
Offering the wrong food can cause a young bird to drown or become malnourished. Instead, expect the parents or a wildlife rehabilitator to feed the puppy a proper diet.
We hope you enjoy this video about what to do if you find a baby bird:
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