With new bird babies born every day, Spring brings inevitable avian tragedies; babies falling from nests. Humans, for some mysterious evolutionary reason, want to help. At the Fat Finch, we are often asked about what is the best way to help a baby bird in distress.
The best response depends on how old the baby bird is. If it is a “hatchling,” an unfeathered baby, about the only thing that will save it is to find the nest from which it fell and put it back. Don’t worry about its parents rejecting it because your odor is now on it. Unless you smell like a ferret — and maybe even if you do — the parents will take care of it.
If you can’t find the nest or it is too high for you to reach, the best thing to do is make one for the baby — out of cardboard and kleenex and put that nest as close to the point where the baby must have fallen. Remember the law of gravity: It has no feathers; it didn’t fly. It fell like an apple, straight down.
Then watch for an hour or so. If the parents return, the baby will survive unless it was irretrievably injured in the original fall. If the parents don’t come back, call for help. And help is your local Audubon Club, Fish and Wildlife Service, wild life rescue organization, or local bird store.
If the baby has feathers, it is a “fledgling.” If it is on the ground and has no apparent injuries, it is fine as long as you and your pets keep away from it. Its parents will be back. Secure the area and watch. If, after a couple of hours, no parent comes to help it and you see the nest, it is OK to put the bird in the nest. If, even after that, the parents don’t arrive, call for help.
If you have to attempt a rescue yourself, about all you can do is prepare a small container for the bird which you can cover so the bird is in the dark. Then put the container somewhere warm until you can get further help. The sad reality is a parentless little bird is likely to die.