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I found a baby bird. Now, what?

by Josie Karam // July 23, 2013 // Neighborhoods

I found a baby bird. Now, what?

By: H Dragon / www.flickr.com License: Creative Commons License (By SA 2.0)

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, I receive hundreds of calls from concerned “rescuers” that find wildlife in need and I spend a great deal of time talking to the public to ascertain the need to either place the “baby” back in the nest or tree, leave it where it is, or bring it to my wildlife facility.

Even though we take in wild mammals, the majority of intakes are birds, so I will concentrate this article on the avian species.

Baby birds (hatchlings, nestlings) are displaced from their nests for many reasons. There may be a dominant sibling that expels the weaker ones or the parent could be ejecting the weaker offspring to allow the stronger ones to survive. Birds of prey will often pluck the helpless from their nests and cats are one of their biggest enemies.

Nature is not always “pretty.”

In this stage of development, the bird is unable to fly and is totally dependent on the parents for food, warmth and protection from predators.

The fledgeling is the young bird flapping its wings to prepare for its first flight. That initial experience is not always a perfect flight from nest or tree. It often finds itself on the ground, with the parents continuing to feed it and coaxing it to fly. At any of the above stages of development, people will find the birds and those who are concerned enough will step in to help. If the birds are injured, they should always go to a licensed rehabilitator.

If we conclude the bird can be safely returned to the nest, or that a nest can be “created” and placed in the tree, then such is the first choice of action. With this decision, however, comes the responsibility of observing the baby to make sure the parents are feeding it. At the fledgeling stage, it is most likely the bird will not stay in the tree. It wants to fly.

A bird on the ground is very vulnerable to ants, predators, people, traffic, cats, and more.

If you are not a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, it is against the law to be in possession of protected wildlife. Do not feed it or try to give it water. You will, most likely, aspirate it. Get it to a wildlife rehabilitator.

The best way to handle a bird in need is to place a towel over it, scoop it up, put it in a box and keep it warm and quiet. A bird cannot be without nourishment for long periods of time. You must get it to a rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Call (915) 920-7867 or take it to Second Chance Wildlife Rescue – 635 Country Club Road.

Cats are the number one reason for injured intakes. They are totally destructive to wildlife, and people who allow their cats to wander the neighborhood are breaking the law.

Our loss of wildlife is devastating, due to the drought and destruction of habitat. We need to do our small part in helping wildlife in distress. Volunteers (age 18+) are always needed, as is financial aid.

Josie Karam is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in El Paso Texas. TX Parks & Wildlife; U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Second Chance Wildlife Rescue – 635 Country Club Rd. (915) 920-7867.

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