Are You My Mother? How to Care for a Baby Bird

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Special Considerations for Orphan Wild Baby Birds

In the spring, it’s common to find baby birds away from their nests. Your first thought might be that the bird is in trouble, but this is not always the case. So, when should you intervene?

Uninjured baby birds with feathers should be left alone. These are fledglings that typically hop on the ground. The parents are probably nearby. If the baby bird does not have feathers, either put the baby back in the nest or make a substitute nest by poking holes in the bottom of an empty margarine tub and lining it with dry grass or pine needles. Leave the bird in the nest and observe him from a distance. If one of the parents does not visit within an hour, the baby needs help.

If you find a stranded baby bird, the best thing you can do for him is to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center. These facilities give orphaned babies the best chance of survival. If there is no wildlife center in your area that cares for orphan wild birds, you should be aware that only certain species are legal for people to rehabilitate. Pigeons, starlings, and sparrows are typically the only species that you should attempt to hand raise. Other species may be protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The most important things about trying to foster and rehabilitate wild birds is to offer a variety of food, keep the cage clean, and be consistent when feeding. Your care will mimic care received in the wild. Try to keep in mind that these babies are being raised as their wild mother would raise them.

Always wash your hand before and after caring for the birds to prevent contracting an infection. Periodic daily access to sunshine is very important but you must make sure the birds do not overheat. If you place the cage outside, make sure it is predator-proof.

Birds must be able to fly and eat on their own before they can be released.

Resources for Caring for Baby Birds

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