Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring is here!

 Spring is in the air, and with the coming of spring there is an eruption of baby birds in the wild. 

At the World Bird Sanctuary, our animal hospital receives about 400 patients a year.  These are mostly birds of prey such as eagles, owls, and hawks.  Sometimes we receive baby birds that are “rescued” that do not actually need our help, and this blog post will help you know when to help, and when to leave a baby bird alone.

There are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to help a wild bird.  They are:
Is the bird injured? 
If you find any bird that is visibly injured or sick, this is a bird that needs help.  The presence of blood or flies around the animal is almost always a sign of injury.  You can help by contacting your local wildlife rehabilitator.

 This barred owl chick suffered from head trauma and was brought to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Is the bird feathered?
If you find a baby bird that is naked (without feathers) or covered in fuzzy down feathers, this is a baby that should still be in the nest.  If you do not see any injuries, often you can place the chick back into its nest.  If you do not see the original nest, you can make a homemade nest yourself out of a basket or a container with holes in the bottom.  Makeshift nests should be lined with paper towels—not dry grass, pine needles, or other vegetation (these can hold moisture and cause the babies to become chilled).  You can then hang the nest in a nearby tree out of harm’s way, and place the chick inside.  Watch for the parents to come back and care for the chick. Most birds will look for a missing baby bird for at least 4 days.  If they do not visit the baby within a couple of hours, call a wildlife rehabilitator.

These robins have no feathers on their body, and they are not ready to be out of the nest.  They need to eat every half hour to keep growing strong.

If you find a baby bird that has its wing and tail feathers, this is a fledgling bird.  Baby birds will often leave the nest before they can fully fly.  The parents will care for these babies on the ground until they get the hang of flying.  Fledglings are vulnerable, and can be found hopping on the ground for days before they fly off.  If the chick is in danger from dogs, cats, or people, move the bird to a nearby bush for cover.  If possible, it is best to leave them where they are.  A baby’s best chance of survival is with its parents.

Pictured is a fledgling bird.  Even though it is a baby, notice the bird has feathers on its wings and tail.

Should I care for this baby bird myself?
No.  Caring for sick, injured, and abandoned wildlife requires extensive knowledge and skills.  It can also expose you to harmful bacteria and diseases.  The bird in need will have the best chance of survival in the care of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  Wildlife rehabilitators have all of the tools, medicine, and training necessary to give their patients the highest chance of survival.  Not only that, but it is illegal to possess wildlife without the correct permits.  By getting your bird to a wildlife rehabber as quickly as possible, it will have the greatest chance to be released back into the wild.

To find a local wildlife rehabber in your area, you can search the directory of rehabilitation centers by state at:

Submitted by Paige Davis, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist


Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what type of fledgling that bird is with red tipped tail ...

Photog said...

The fledgling with the red-tipped tail and wing tips is a Cedar Waxwing. Thanks for asking.