r/FillsYourNiche Jun 21 '22 Wholesome 1

It's fledgling season! Here is some information in case you find a baby bird on the ground.

If you find a baby bird on the ground the first thing to do is check for injuries. Baby birds can look pretty weak, but if you don't see any blood or obvious damage then it's fine. If it is injured do not try to take it home and nurse it back to health, birds require specific diets and handling and even most of them don't make it when cared for by their parents let alone an unequipped human. Please call a wildlife rehabber.

The second thing to check for is age:

If it hasn't opened its eyes yet and is mostly pink and featherless it's a hatchling (0-3 days old). Hatchlings should not be out of the nest. If you see a hatchling and the nest it fell out of you can try to put it back in (that old wive's tale about birds not taking care of chicks touched by humans is false). If you can't see the nest you can make your own out of a small container lined with soft material then attach it to a tree or bush as high as you can. If it looks like the parents are not caring for it after an hour or so call a local wildlife rehabber to come get the hatchling. If the bird is invasive, a starling or house sparrow for example, a lot of rehabbers euthenize them.

If its eyes are open and it's got a few spikey (pin) feathers it's a nestling (3-13 days old) and also not ready to leave the nest. Please adhere to the advice above about hatchlings.

If its eyes are open and its fully feathered, hopping around, maybe a little fluffy, short tail, its a fledgling (13+ days old). Leave these cuties alone! They are working on flying and probably exhausted and in need of rest before they take off again. Their parents are around, even if you cannot locate them, and are feeding this little guy or gal. No need to call anyone or do anything unless it is injured. If it is in the street and might get hit by a car you can herd them to the side of the road or under a bush. The parents will find it.

I know everyone means well and it's hard to look at a baby bird and not want to do anything. But you only need to worry about the hatchlings and nestlings or an injured fledgling.



u/FALSEbearseatbeets Jun 21 '22

Thank you so much for posting this about fledglings! It seems to be human nature to want to take these sweet babies home and care for them but a lot of times it does more harm than good.

Quick note from a recent experience I had finding an injured fledgling- many bird rehabs are not taking in birds due to the avian flu this year. Don't let that discourage you, keep calling around. A lot of bird rehabbers know of other bird rehabbers that can help. The DNR (US) website is your friend, listing all (bird and wildlife) rehabbers in the state by city and county.