HELP! I Found a Baby Bird! What Do I Do?
Every Spring I start getting calls, texts, and posts in my Facebook groups from people who have found a baby bird. Almost all of them fall under the category of “OMG! What do I do?”
For the most part, the answer is pretty simple. In almost every case, you should just leave the baby bird alone. Birds often leave the nest without being able to fly. When that happens, the parent bird will continue to feed it, and usually, within the next day or two, the baby bird will take flight.
In some cases, there might be a danger to the baby birds. That is usually in the form of cats in the area, sometimes dogs, and other predators.
In those cases, it may be necessary to get a small box, put a few bits of grass or leaves in the bottom, and make a temporary nest for the baby bird. The box should be open at the top and not so tall that the baby bird cannot jump up to the edge to get out of the nest/box when ready to fly. You should then attach this box to a branch in a tall shrub or bush where it can get some shade but still be easily found by the parent birds.
I have taken a small basket and using a cord tied it to a tree trunk 4 or 5 feet above the ground. Next, I took a piece of cardboard and attached it above the nest to give it shade. Then I got away and let the parents take care of it.
Now it is a different story if the baby bird that you find has no feathers. Then, the baby bird has either accidentally fallen from the nest or been shoved out. Under those circumstances, you need to find the nest and if possible, put the baby bird back inside the nest. The parents will not care that you handled it. It is not true that they will abandon the bird if the baby is touched and “has a human smell on it”.
If none of the above is feasible for one reason or another, then you should find a rehabber. Do not try to raise the bird yourself. You will very likely not be successful and it is against the law. Almost all bird species are protected. Find a rehabber.
Here is a link to contact information for we have birders within the state of Texas.
These really are the only alternatives.
Sometimes, if you are far away from a rehabber, the rehabber may give you instructions on taking care of the baby bird. That is the only time to take care of one yourself. Without proper instruction, the baby is much less likely to survive. Googling for instructions is not the answer. Too many people post advice on raising baby birds that are not only incorrect but can be dangerous. One example of that is about giving them water by dripping it into their mouths. That may very likely kill them. But there is more to it than just that. So, do the smart thing, and no matter how cute you think that little baby is, call a rehabber.