How to Rescue a Baby Bird

rescue a baby bird

Note the closed eyes and drooping wing. This bird needs care by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Photo by mscaprikell, Flickr.

First Step: Determine if the found baby bird even needs rescuing.

Warmer temperatures, flowers blooming and wild baby birds falling out of trees are all signs of spring and summer. Baby wild birds, born dependent on their parents for care, do not yet know how to fly. To practice, they jump (or are kicked by pushy siblings or impatient parents) out of their nest, and become land bound. From here, they flutter and do their best to get back up into a bush or tree, usually crashing and stumbling before perfecting their flying skills. This normal process has worked for birds for millions of years.

Every year thousands of healthy baby wild birds are bird-napped by well-intentioned people who think they are helping. So, if you have found a baby bird on the ground, stop to investigate if the bird truly needs your help before swooping him up and taking him from his parents (whom you may not see). You do not need to, and should not, touch the baby bird to determine if he is in need of rescuing.

Look at the feathers of the bird. If it is naked, downy and without body feathers, he is too young to be out of the nest. Putting him back into his nest gives him the best chance for survival.  If he has feathers, he is old enough to be out of the nest and should be left alone.

Watch the bird’s behavior. A healthy fledgling will be trying to fly, although clumsily (think toddler with wings), and may try to hide or chirp. Leave healthy fledglings alone.

Is the Fledgling or Nestling Bird Injured?

Look for blood. If nestling or fledgling is bleeding, then he will need medical care by a wildlife rehabilitator.

Compare the wings. When standing the wings should be symmetrical, if one is drooping or seems out of place he may have a broken wing and needs rescuing.

Compare the legs. If he is limping or dragging a leg, he may have a broken leg and needs the care of a wildlife rehab center.

What to Do When You Have Found a Baby Bird

Leave the raising of healthy and uninjured fledgling baby birds to those that can do the job best – the parent birds.  Take injured or sick injured baby birds to the nearest wildlife rehab center. At a wildlife rehabilitation center, staff and trained volunteers are professionals whose have expertise caring for and working with wildlife.  Aside from the parents, this gives the baby wild bird the best chance for survival.

Click here to learn How to Take Care of an Injured Bird or Other Found Wildlife

Click here to learn how to stop cats from catching wild birds.


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