What Do I Do If I Find A Baby Bird?

1. If the baby is in immediate danger (in a road or near a predator), move it to a higher branch or other cover as close as possible to where you first found it. Confine cats and dogs.

2. Withdraw to a good distance and simply watch the bird, preferably through binoculars. Allow the parents, if they are present, to attend the baby. Don’t immediately assume it’s not being cared for, even if an hour passes without seeing a parent arrive.

3. Look and listen for others of its species. Constant contact calls given by fledglings serve to keep their parents apprised of their whereabouts.

4. If you see an adult of its species nearby, especially one carrying food, you may assume that it will be fed and cared for.

5. If several hours pass and you do not see an adult tending the baby, walk the area around it, looking and listening for other fledglings giving the same calls. It’s probable that this one has just become separated, and it may need to be carried over to join the rest. Head for the thickest nearby cover: Parent birds lead their young toward cover soon after fledging.

6. Resist the temptation to carry out a friendly abduction. A baby bird’s best chance for survival is always with its own parents. Plus, removing a fledgling is illegal unless you are a licensed rehabilitator. Playing a recording of the bird’s song can be a good way to summon the parents. Note where the first answer comes from and try to locate the family there. Be quite careful when doing this, though, and never overdo it–there is always the risk of disturbing other birds in the vicinity during nesting season.

7. If you are sure the parent birds are nowhere to be found, it’s time to contact a wildlife rehabilitator. State environmental departments, local wildlife officers, nature centers, some bird-feeding and supply stores, and some veterinarians keep lists of people to call.

Click here to see The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory. You will be able to locate a rehabber near you.