What to Do When You Find a Baby Bird on the Ground

 In Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital, Pet Care, Wildlife Rehabilitation

Have you happened upon a baby bird on the ground while walking through your neighborhood? Do you know what to do to get it the help it needs?

The prospect of raising a young bird on your own might sound exciting. However, it is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to possess nearly all of North America’s wild birds without a federal permit. Instead, take the steps below to ensure that any baby bird you might find gets the best chance of survival possible.

Try to Find the Nest

When you spot a baby bird on the ground, start looking for its nest. If the bird isn’t hopping around or trying to fly, it’s likely a nestling that fell out on accident. If you’re successful in finding the nest and if it’s within easy reach, gently scoop up the chick and return it to its home. Contrary to popular belief, birds have a poor sense of smell. Adult birds do not abandon their babies just because humans touch them.

Look for the Parents

If you can’t find a nest, look and listen for the baby bird’s parents. These adults will likely be calling to their chick, watching it attentively from nearby bushes, or flying low to the ground around the area where you found the young bird. The parents will feed and take care of the bird while it’s out of the nest and learning to fly. You can move the baby to the safety of a nearby shrub if necessary. Otherwise, leave it alone.

No Nest or Parents?

If you can’t find a nest and you’re sure there are no parents around to take care of the baby bird, then you can get involved to save it from predators and the elements. Prepare a cardboard box with a nest made of soft paper tissues and place it on a heating pad or near a hot water bottle. Add a moist sponge for humidity. Gently place the nestling into your homemade nest, preferably in a room away from loud noises and other disturbances.

Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator

Once you’ve got the baby bird settled into its new location, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator to make sure it receives the best help in the right hands. The Humane Society of the United States maintains an online directory of licensed rehabbers.

If you live near Kingsport, Tennessee, contact the Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital when you find an orphaned bird. Our professionals will give the nestling the compassionate care it needs to ensure that it can live a safe and healthy life once it’s able to return to the wild.