What do I do Found Baby Bird On The Ground 8 Steps You Should Know

Encountering a baby bird on the ground, away from its nest, is a common occurrence for birders and nature lovers.

Knowing how to respond to this situation is not only a matter of good intentions but also essential for the well-being of these wild baby birds.

During the spring and summer, both in the U.S. and worldwide, questions often arise about what to do when you discover a baby bird alone and on the ground.

caring for baby cedar waxwings birds

Fledgling Baby Cedar Waxwings

This article serves as a guide, offering crucial insights and steps to ensure you make the best decisions when encountering orphaned or injured baby birds.

Should I Give the Baby Bird Water?

First things first, never force water down their throats, most likely you'll drown the injured baby bird.

The adults do not bring water to the nest for them to drink. Water comes from the insects or fruit that birds eat.

Many baby birds are thought to be abandoned or thought to have fallen out of the nest too soon by many backyard birdwatchers.

The truth, few baby birds are abandoned.

8 Quick Steps to Follow When You Find a Baby Bird

  1. Observe the bird from a safe distance to determine if it is an injured bird or a healthy fledgling. If it appears healthy, it may not need your immediate help.
  2. If the bird is injured or sick, wear gloves and gently pick it up, placing it in a small cardboard box with a soft cloth on the bottom.
  3. Keep the bird warm and quiet, away from domestic cats and children.
  4. Contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice on how to care for the wild baby bird.
  5. If you cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator, contact a local veterinarian or animal control agency for guidance.
  6. Do not attempt to feed the bird or give it water unless advised to do so by a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.
  7. If the bird is a fledgling (a young bird that has left the nest but is still being cared for by its parents), try to return it to its tree nest if possible. If you cannot find the original tree nest, place the bird in a nearby tree or shrub.
  8. Monitor the bird's condition and behavior until it can be safely released back into the wild.

Some wild baby birds may fall from their nest or get pushed out when close to fledging, and others found on the ground are because of storms or other natural disasters.

Most birdwatchers who find a young bird naturally want to care for and feed the bird.

It is strongly recommended that you not do force feed. You are more likely to do more harm than good.

Instead, examine the bird for injuries. If it's hurt, take it to a local veterinarian or call your local conservation department for the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.

Please take a moment and listen to Dr. Becker's comments on this issue. Below you'll find helpful links to websites.

What to do if You Find a Baby Bird

Uninjured Baby Birds

If you find an uninjured young bird, you will need to determine whether it is an orphaned bird.

Most baby birds found on the ground are just young fledglings that can't fly well.

Baby Catbird Just Left Nest

Many people don't realize that when healthy baby birds leave the nest, most cannot fly. Instead, they jump and glide to different tree branches.

Sometimes they miss and end up on the ground. Therefore, you want to know if it's a fledgling or not.

To determine whether the bird is a nestling or a fledgling, allow the baby bird to perch on your finger.

If it can grip your finger, then it is a fledgling.

The best way to handle this situation is to place it in a nearby tree or shrub and leave it alone.

The parent birds will continue to care for and feed it on their own.

If the bird cannot cling to your finger, then it's most likely a nestling. If this is the case, try to locate the nest.

Most of the time, it will be close by and well hidden. Place the bird back in the original nest if possible.

What to do if you Find a Baby Bird on the Ground With no Nest?

What do you do if the nest cannot be found? Try lining a small box or basket with tissue or paper towels and tying the substitute nest to a tree.

Do not use dryer lint as it hardens when wet.

Place the young bird in the basket and leave it alone. The parents will take care of it once you leave.

If you have domestic cats, keep them indoors for a couple of days. If it's neighboring cats you fear, try to move the wild baby bird out of immediate danger. Move it to dense shrubbery.

Many bird deaths are caused by well-meaning people. Improper feeding and stress can cause a baby bird's death.

What About Hand-Feeding Baby Birds?

baby goldfinches

Baby American Goldfinches

Should you hand-feed wild baby birds that you have found? The short answer is no.

Young birds are fed by their parents about every 20 minutes during daylight hours.

Most people are not able to provide this much time and effort in raising young birds.

When you capture a baby bird, it is afraid and not likely to want to eat.

The bird needs time to calm down and adjust to where it has been placed.

Be Advised - It Is Illegal To Possess Wild Animals Yes, holding wild birds in captivity is illegal.

Not only do young birds need to eat every 20 minutes during daylight hours, but each bird species' diet is different.

Some bird species' diets will change from the nestling phase to the fledgling phase of their development. You need to know the species and its specific diet.

The question asked is, "Why do birds that are not able to fly leave the nest?" To us humans, home is a warm and safe environment.

For birds, the nest can be a dangerous place. Predators can attack the whole brood, leaving an unsuccessful nesting season.

It is in the best interest of the young birds to not only leave the nest quickly, but it helps to spread out from one another.

This aids in limiting the number of baby birds a predator might harm and gives the young the greatest chance of survival.

What Can I Do To Help The Baby Bird?

NEW! Discover captivating stories about baby birds from our visitors and learn about their unique encounters.
Read Visitors Stories Here.

While it is understandable, why one would want to help young birds, the best course of action, unfortunately, is to leave them alone.

Sometimes it's too late because the bird has been brought inside or it's already dark out or for fear of cats and other predators.

In certain cases, the best thing to do is place the bird in a small box with a soft lining and cover it with a cloth to lessen the stress.

As soon as possible, reach out to any local rehabber in the area.

If you need to locate a wildlife rehabilitator, try this Directory to see if one is close to you.

For emergency care before turning over to licensed individuals, please see this quick guide: Wild Bird Care Centre

In fairness, some folks have been successful in raising baby birds. Scroll down to read their stories.

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