I Found A
Before snatching up a baby bird from the ground, please read the following and/or call a licensed bird rehabber. You might think you’re helping, but it may end up being the worst thing you can do for that baby!
Many types of birds leave the nest and spend 2 - 5 days on the ground before they can fly! This is an imperative part of the proper development of young birds. Although you may not see the parents, the babies are still being cared for and protected by them. This is when they are learning how to find food, fly & identify predators. Interfering in this process eliminates the skills that’s required for survival.
Here are some tips for helping:
“Hatchlings” are identified by only having a few wisps of hairs, otherwise naked. Place them back in their nest and parents will continue to feed. It is a myth that if you touch them, the parents will not return. But overhandling can be stressful for the bird.
“Nestlings” are babies that are not yet ready to leave the nest. If you have found one that you feel has fallen from it’s nest prematurely you may replace the bird into the nest without fear of handling it. Birds have a poor sense of smell but are very good parents and usually continue caring for their young. It may take them several hours to feel safe enough to approach the nestling so it’s very important for humans to stay away from the nestling.
“Fledglings” are feathered but unable to fly well at this stage. Their wings and tails are short and you’re likely to see them hopping and flapping with perhaps bursts of very limited flight. These babies are still being cared for by their parents so stay back and keep animals away. Even placing the fledgling in a nearby bush is generally not helpful as they quickly emerge once again. Relocating the baby is a poor choice as they are dependent on their nearby parents for survival and will quickly starve.
While “raising the bird myself” may seem like a better alternative, it ALWAYS increases chances of survival for an animal to be raised by it’s parents. Resist the temptation unless you see that the parents have been killed or there is injury to the baby.
If the nest is not visible or has been destroyed, place the baby in a small container such as a strawberry basket and suspend it from the closest tree. If another type of container is used be certain there is a way for water to drain from it in the event of rain. Tuck the new “nest” under some leaves/branches to keep it obscure from predators.
Waterfowl present a different set of challenges. If you have found a baby duck or goose that is injured, call a federally permitted rehabber immediately to ask for instructions. If not waterfowl parents are present, put the baby in a box with a towel on the bottom. Cover the box and place it in a quiet warm area until help is arranged. If it doesn’t have feathers, supplemental heat will be needed. Placing a soft stuffed animal in with the baby is very helpful as well.
If there are no noticeable injuries and it’s with its parents leave them alone. These parents are extremely protective and will take excellent care of their young. If it is not with parents and is fuzzy do NOT try to introduce it to another family even if there are similarly aged babies. Adults will often kills babies that are not their own. Place this baby in a box with a towel at the bottom and supplemental heat and contact a wildlife rehabber immediately. (Please see additional directions on warming the animal here.)
If this duck/goose has normal feathers it most likely is old enough to survive on it’s own. If in doubt, observe only and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if needed.
These are very broad guidelines. In the event of questions please contact us or any federally permitted bird rehabber immediately to address your questions/concerns.