What to do if you see an injured or orphaned baby bird

Wildlife Images takes in baby birds to rehabilitate them and hopefully release them back into the wild, where they naturally belong. Sadly, our permanent bird residents could not survive on their own in the wild, so we give them the best life possible for birds in captivity.

When you see a baby bird who may need your help, it is important to assess the situation first. Here are steps you can take to determine the best course of action you can take to help the baby bird:

Assess the Situation

  1. Observe from a Distance: Watch the bird for a while to see if the parents return. Sometimes, fledglings (young birds that have left the nest but are still learning to fly) appear to be in distress but are actually being cared for by their parents.
  2. Determine if the Bird is a Nestling or Fledgling:
    • Nestlings: These are young birds that are mostly featherless or have downy feathers. They cannot hop, walk, or fly well and need to be in the nest.
    • Fledglings: These birds have most of their feathers, can hop and flutter, and could be learning to fly. They usually do not need intervention unless they are in immediate danger.

If the Bird is a Nestling

  1. Locate the Nest: If you can find the nest and it is intact, gently place the bird back in it. The myth that parent birds will reject a baby bird if it has been touched by humans is false.
  2. Create a Makeshift Nest: If the nest is destroyed or you can’t find it:
    • Use a small container like a berry basket or a plastic container with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.
    • Line it with soft materials like dry grass, tissue, or pine needles.
    • Secure the makeshift nest in a tree or bush as close to the original nest location as possible.
    • Place the bird in the makeshift nest and observe from a distance to see if the parents return.

If the Bird is a Fledgling

  1. Leave it Alone: Fledglings should be left alone in most cases. They are often seen hopping on the ground while their parents watch from a distance.
  2. Move to a Safer Location: If the fledgling is in immediate danger (e.g., on a busy road or in an area with predators), you can move it to a nearby shrub or low branch.

If the Bird is Injured

  1. Injured birds need professional care. Contact Wildlife Images for help: 541- 476-0222
  2. Keep the Bird Safe and Warm:
    • Place the bird in a small box lined with a soft cloth.
    • Keep the box in a quiet, dark, and warm place.
    • Do not attempt to feed or give water to the bird as improper feeding can cause more harm.

Additional Tips

  • Avoid Excessive Handling: Handling can stress the bird, so limit contact as much as possible.
  • Do Not Attempt to Raise the Bird: Raising wild birds requires specialized care, and it is illegal to keep a wild bird without a permit, in many places.

By following these guidelines, you can give an injured or orphaned baby bird the best chance to survive and thrive. Wildlife Images is here to help if you have any questions.