Found a Baby Bird
Most baby birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to tamper with or remove nests or babies, or to keep any wild baby bird. If you have one in your possession, please follow the instructions below and call us for help if the bird needs rescuing.
What to do
First priority is to locate the nest and return the baby (if the baby is healthy and not injured). You may need a ladder and some ingenuity. Make sure the other babies in the nest look like the one you are replacing. Make sure the nest looks safe, without snakes, etc. Watch the nest from a distance to confirm that the parent bird returns. This could take at least an hour. Be patient. If after an hour and at least one parent hasn't come around calling for their baby, call the number at the bottom of the page.
A common myth is that mother birds will reject babies if handled by humans. This is not true. Birds have a very poor sense of smell, and cannot tell if humans have touched their chick. The best saying is "WE LEARN BEST IN THE NEST"
If the nest has fallen down with babies, tie nest back in the original tree (or a tree very close by) in a special way to protect babies, in their original nest (reinforced) or in a little basket. Tie with thick string or wire as close to the original site as possible. Place the nest in a little basket or margarine tub (with drainage holes) to make it easier to secure. Don't use a berry basket because bird legs may get caught in the mesh. Watch from a distance and make sure the parent returns.
However, if you find a nest with eggs set in gravel (ex. on your driveway) or an area where a bird has made a ground nest, leave it there and put up stakes and rope around it so others will not drive on top of it, or disturb the nest. The babies do not need rescuing if you leave them with their parent, and they will be gone in no time.
Re-nesting: It's very important to re-nest babies in the right nest. Please check our re-nesting page for specifics. - click on the "Re-nesting" menu item under "What to do" and locate some important info on successful re-nesting.
It is best not to feed orphaned or injured birds. However, if it is a tiny hatchling, it will deteriorate if not fed every 15 mins. a proper meal. However, if the baby is cool to the touch (which is probably will be... he will die if you feed him without warming him first). He can be warmed in a soft towel in a small basket over a heating pad, set on low. His normal temperature is 101 degrees and he can't warm himself, unfortunately, which is why the parents are panicking when they fall or are removed from their nest. If you need to give a feeding or two, follow the instructions under the section "Supplemental Feedings".
Danger! Never give bread or milk to wild birds. Don't handle the baby more than necessary because their tiny bodies can be easily damaged. Keep it away from household pets and wash your hands before touching your pet birds. It is important to keep voices and other sounds low - stress is the biggest danger to birds; they will simply fall over dead due to stress and you would never realize they are stressed because they have no way of showing you. As tempting as it is to try to raise a wild bird, please remember - these birds need proper diets, proper techniques for injuries and medical issues, and Federal law prohibits un-permitted individuals from possessing native wildlife, not to mention it takes you undivided attention 14 hrs a day and sometimes every 15 minutes. If you find you have no choice but to intervene and care for the bird, please contact us for help so the bird gets the very best care possible. After all, the goal is to release a healthy well-adjusted bird back to the wild. We can never give them what they deserve, their freedom. A cage is a terrible fate for a wild-born bird.
Is the baby a nestling (skin showing) or a fledgling (feathered but can't fly well)?
Healthy nestlings can be returned to their nest within a reasonable time and their parents *should* accept them. Nestlings can *not* survive on the ground or in a box left outside. They must be very warm, either by their parent or with supplemental heat. If it is impossible to return the baby to its nest, call us and transport the nestling safely to us with the following instructions: Nestlings need to stay warm (~90 to 95 degrees). It is important to get the nestling(s) help quickly because they typically eat every 15 to 30 minutes, 14 hours a day. They will not last long if they are cold and go without nourishment.
Do not put anything liquid in an open beak!! Because the bird could aspirate, and feeding the bird when it is not warm enough could be deadly.
Remember, getting the nestling back in their nest (or a make-shift nest) immediately is the key to saving the life of that bird.
Fledglings are fully feathered usually hopping around on the ground and are frequently thought to be all alone. Usually, their parents are hunting for food and return to feed the fledgling when there is no one watching. Parents have no way to teach their fledglings but to get them down from the nest and begin the lessons on the ground, in a bush or on a tree limb. With highways, dogs and cats, pesticides and other dangers, fledglings often get into trouble. If you find a fledgling, consider the following:
Is it in immediate danger of a cat or dog? If so, please collect the dog or cat and put them away or scare them off so the bird is out of danger.
Was the bird in the middle of a road? If so, take the bird back to the *same* location, to a safe spot, away from traffic and see if the fledgling calls his parents to come and feed him. Rescuing a bird often means going out of your way to ensuring the bird's safety without taking him from his parent. Never take a bird from one location and release him in a different one hoping he'll be okay, he will *not* be okay without his parents.
It's best to observe the bird from a distance for an hour to see if it needs rescuing or if it is awaiting his parent. Also, check the list of signs of illness and injury. If the parents do not come, or if you suspect the bird is ill or injured, please call us.
If any of these signs are present, contact us for instructions on what to do.
Signs of illness or injury:
Failure to flee or sleeping when approached.
Found lying around or in the mouth of a cat or dog.
Is the bird alert, or acting confused or dazed?
Is the bird bleeding, or have a wing drooping, hanging or held higher than the other?
Is the bird staggering or limping?
Is it having difficulty controlling its head and neck?
Are the eyes or beak crusty?
Does it have missing or matted feathers?
Transporting the bird:
There is no one to come and pick up the bird, so please be prepared to be the one person to help this little bird get help. We are totally volunteer based, have regular jobs and can't take in many birds. If necessary please transport the nestling wrapped in a soft (thread free cloth), warm and in a box (with a hot water bottle or latex type glove filled with warm water next to it if it's a nestling). Make sure to keep everyone extremely quiet around the bird until it reaches a rehabber, no loud voices, dog barking, or radios. Remember, getting the nestling back to his parents or in case of injury to a rehabber immediately is the key to saving the bird.
Most birds are able to accept water or clear Pedialyte if a drop or two is placed on the end of his beak (never inside an open beak!). If he is weak he will need Pedialyte rather than water for an hour or so. If the baby bird is lively, most can take soften cat food at room temperature for a meal or two. However, they may need mealworms if they are insectivores. It is important to figure out the type of bird you have. If it's a dove, it will not be able to eat the usual foods. They are very difficult to feed and will almost always need a skilled rehabilitator to feed them properly.
We deeply appreciate those willing to rescue a bird in need.
Please call us if we can help further 678-576-1655 (we have a regular job so leave a brief detailed message and we will call you back).