That Is Not My Baby Bird

by Jim Kelly
(Monticello, Ga., USA)

One day a couple of years ago, my daughter called me in a panic.

She had found a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest and her cats were trying to eat it.

She said she looked everywhere to find the nest the bird had fallen from but had no luck. "Daddy, you've got to do something!"

wren nestlings sharing nest with house sparrow nestling

Carolina Wrens and House Sparrow Nestlings

As all daddies know, those are the words that put us in high gear.

A few weeks earlier, I had befriended a Wren that was building a nest in my shop by providing shavings from a woodworking project I was doing.

I placed the shavings in front of the box she was building in, and as soon as I would move away, she would take each shaving and line her nest with them along with various pieces of string and straw.

She eventually laid her eggs and hatched three babies.

She flew constantly back and forth bringing them food and removing feces.

She never exhibited any fear of me or my presence as she went about her tasks, even when I would peek in to see the progress of her babies.

Early each morning, when I would come into the shop, she would fly out of her box, light on a rafter above my workbench, look directly at me, chirp several times, and then fly off to the tasks of the day, namely feeding the growing babies.

I felt she was saying "Good morning" in her way.

When my daughter called with her found baby bird problem, I wondered if my Wren friend would take on one more mouth to feed.

I asked my daughter what kind of bird was it she found. She had no idea.

Since the fallen baby bird's predicament looked pretty grim, I decided to see if Mother Wren just might take on this addition.

I drove over, picked up the baby bird my daughter had wrapped in a towel, and took it back to my shop.

Mother Wren was out and about when I got there, so I put the fallen baby bird in her nest with her three babies.

Immediately, I saw a problem that would probably complicate this adoption attempt further than I had expected.

The fallen baby bird was twice as big as Mother Wren's babies and was not of the same species!

I stepped back, sat on a stool by my workbench, and nervously awaited the return of Mother Wren.

What would I do with it if she pushed it out of her nest?

Take it back to the hungry cats where it had come from? Try to feed it myself?

As a thousand 'What ifs' flew through my mind, Mother Wren returned.

She lit on the edge of the nest and was apparently stunned at what she saw.

She flew away and back to the nest again for another look.

She peered deep in her nest apparently counting heads, flew to the rafter over my workbench, looked at me and chirped loudly, and flew away.

Oh No! I thought. She's abandoning the nest!

I'll have four baby birds to try to take care of without much chance of success!

After what seemed like an eternity, she came back, lit on the edge of her nest, AND FED THE NEW BABY BIRD!

I was ecstatic! I called my daughter to tell her the good news and she wept with joy.

Men aren't supposed to cry but I'll have to admit I was a little misty myself.

Mother Wren continued to feed and care for all FOUR of her babies until they were big enough to leave the nest.

The next year about the same time Mother Wren returned to my shop to apparently build another nest.

She lit on my workbench for the first time within two feet of me.

She looked up at me and chirped several times and flew to the box where she had nested the year before.

I got out my wood plane and a nice piece of wood and started cutting shavings.

Comments for That Is Not My Baby Bird

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 08, 2019
My heart has never felt bigger!
by: Cristy

Saw something curious at my bird feeder this morning. Researching whether mother finches have been known to adopt baby sparrows.

Your story warmed my heart and totally made my day!!

I am anxiously waiting for my husband to get out of the bathroom so I can read it to him! I can already hear his long, musical Awwwww with his head tilted to the side, and the probability of him getting teary eyed is high!

Can’t thank you enough for sharing this. God bless you.

Dec 07, 2015
That Is Not My Baby
by: Jim Kelly

Thanks for the kind comments Leonard, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Living in middle Georgia we are blessed to have such a variety of wild animals of many kinds that we can share our world with as you do in Maine.

Keep taking those pictures, each one is a precious moment in time of one of God's creatures.
Best regards,

Dec 07, 2015
Inspiring, tearful, and heartwarming.
by: Leonard Davis

Hello Jim,
Just read your story, and I have to say it really made my week. Being 68 years old, it,s hard to find good, credible stories that are worth reading.

I have been bird watching for many years now and it's good to know that there are honest and genuine members such as yourself!

I live up in Maine, and the wildlife up here is just prismatic and unbelievable. I find such satisfaction in bringing my camera on my outings and being able to show family members my finds. Most of them, to whom probably do not care.

Anyhow, thank you for creating such an inspiring and exciting short narrative. Just truly a good read.

Thank you and take care from a fellow bird watcher,


Jul 09, 2014
Baby bird Adoption
by: Jim Kelly

Good luck Julianne, I hope the other birds adopt it as mine did but it's unusual for that to happen but not impossible. God bless you for trying.

Jul 09, 2014
by: Julianne

Mr. Kelly
Thanks for sharing your story. Right now I have an eyeless swallow that I rescued from our cat. I am seeing if parents of babies much younger will help it. We also have a wren who babies just hatched. I really like taking pictures of our birds.

May 06, 2010
Re: Mari/ my Sparrow
by: Jim Kelly

If you can find the nest the baby came from, try to put it back so it's mother can care for it.

It's extremely hard for a human to raise a wild bird, and in many states it's illegal except by certified care givers.

You can wear rubber gloves when handling it or thoroughly wash your hands after to avoid contact with any insects or germs that may be on the bird.


Actually it's illegal in all of the US, Canada, and Mexico. It's the Bird Treaty Act.

Except for: House Sparrows, European Starlings, and Pigeons.

May 05, 2010
my Sparrow
by: Mari

I too found a baby bird, a sparrow in my garage and I didn't want anyone to step on it. so I put it in a shoe box and sat it on an old dog house in the back yard.

I really want to keep mine though! What's funny is we got rid of our dogs and had left over dog food so my dad and I ground up some and fed it.

Only two things I must ask, how do you know the sex of the bird and is it safe to touch won't you get lice when you put the fallen bird in the nest.

Jan 22, 2009
birds like sunflowerseeds
by: selena

Birds like sunflower seeds most of the time I think. goodbye.

Jul 25, 2008
A story worth sharing
by: Franklin A. Gill

Sounds like you are an avid bird watcher. Wrens are my favorite birds. I will enjoy sharing this story for years to come.

Jul 25, 2008
The Joy Of Nature
by: Dr. Phillip Jacobs

This story was very touching Mr.Kelly. Can't wait here more.

Jul 25, 2008
Wrens in my barn, too.
by: Hollis Taylor

For years, I have had wrens nest in my barn. I used to run them off because of the mess they made but I now enjoy their company. Like you Jim, I have had them light nearby, curious as to what I was doing. Many times I thought they would land on me. Great story Mr. Kelly.
Enjoy your wrens!


Jul 25, 2008
by: Doreen Swanson

Mr. Kelly,
Your story is very fascinating. As you well know this is very rare in the aviary world. Thank you so much for sharing. Hope you don't mind me emailing to all my friends.

D. Swanson

Jul 24, 2008
re: species of adopted baby
by: Jim Kelly

Because of the similarities of baby birds in the nesting stages of development, I was never able to ascertain definitively the species of the adopted baby.

It was almost as large as Mother Wren when she adopted it, and a little larger than her when it left the nest.

It apparently was a little older than her babies because it left the nest about a week before the others.

Based on it's size, dark gray color, and the fact that there were 4 predominant species nesting in the area where it was found-Brown Thrasher, Mockingbird, Sparrow, and Swift - I assume it was one of these.

Jul 24, 2008
Wonderful Story
by: Anonymous

Thank you for such a great, heart-warming story, Mr. Kelly. Did you ever figure out what the species was other the adopted sibling?

Esther Gershon
N. Virginia Bird Club

Jul 23, 2008
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your story Mr.Kelly, I think I'll put a pile of my workshop shavings for neighbors. Great story.

Jul 23, 2008
What an incredibly beautiful story!
by: Anonymous

If only humans were as accepting (and loving) as nature!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Baby Bird Invite.

Subscribe To Our YouTube Channel!
youtube subscribe button