The fledgling problem

EDIT 5/26/2016: If you found this post because you have a baby bird and are wondering what to do with it, please see this post instead; it will be more useful.

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Being a fledgling—a chick that has left the nest—is awkward.

Junco fledgling MAII illustrates the awkwardness via interpretive dance.

Junco fledgling MAII illustrates the awkwardness via interpretive dance.

Fledglings are at one of the most dangerous time in their lives, facing an average mortality rate of 42% over just a week or two. Most of that mortality happens early, just after the little guys have left the nest. New fledglings have almost no skills: they can’t feed themselves, can’t fly well (or, in many cases, at all) and can’t do anything to defend themselves if something terrifying like a weasel, snake, crow, or even chipmunk decides to eat them.

So why do they fledge at all? Because staying in the nest would be even more dangerous. A flightless baby bird’s chief defense is being hidden, and a nest, while it is often hidden, has disadvantages. After two weeks of the parents feeding their chicks, there is a lot of evidence around indicating where the nest is: the nest will smell like bird; the parents will be in the area noticeably frequently; and if an intelligent predator like a Steller’s Jay gets the idea to watch parental movement, it will quickly learn where the nest is. A baby bird out of the nest can do better, as long as it is capable of running and perching, since it can change hiding places and can hide separately from its siblings.

Young junco fledgling hiding. Photo by Jeremy Spool.

Young junco fledgling hiding. Photo by Jeremy Spool.

Young fledglings tend to place all their hope in remaining unseen. Two young American Robins I encountered recently remained motionless even when I stuck a camera lens within inches of them, stoically hoping that I would believe that they were statues and go away.

2013_fledglings_robin2

American Robin fledgling

When I picked up one of them, it called for a moment, then reverted to its motionless act… in my hand.

2013_robin+me

Me with a different American Robin fledgling

You can't see me!

You can’t see me!

This seems silly, but it’s really the only strategy fledglings have before they can run fast or fly. Still, the robin seems to be extreme; fledgling juncos will not sit in your hand unrestrained.

ABEE: As soon as she lets go, I'm outta here.

ABEE: As soon as she lets go, I’m outta here.

Fortunately, fledglings—well, the ones who survive—outgrow this helplessness pretty quickly. Once they can fly, they are much safer, and their challenge becomes learning how to be a self-sufficient bird. I’ve written before about how fledglings learn to catch food, and it’s not a trivial matter: most mortality in young fledglings comes from predation, but in older fledglings, there is evidence for a second peak of mortality due to starvation.

But it isn’t enough to simply stay alive: fledglings have to turn into successful adult birds. So even while they’re hiding from predators and perfecting their foraging technique, they may also have to be learning their species’ song, noticing what a good breeding territory looks like, and forming social relationships. If they don’t, they may survive, but they may not successfully reproduce next year—and reproduction is what counts in natural selection.

Junco fledgling AGYL thinks that is too many things to do at once.

Junco fledgling AGYL thinks that is too many things to do at once.

All of that is a lot for a young bird to handle. But there is one thing that can make it all easier: parental care. Parents feed fledglings and show them where to find food on their own; they warn of and even attack predators, and guide fledglings to safe places. An extra week of parental care can halve the mortality rate for fledglings.

This is where the fledgling problem—how to survive with no skills while rapidly acquiring said skills—also becomes an adult problem. The parents can dramatically increase their fledglings’ changes of survival, but at a cost. Caring is expensive. Any moment spent caring for a fledgling isn’t spent fattening up for the winter, or starting the next brood of chicks, or any other beneficial activity. Parents have to decide how long to care, and it’s a tricky problem. (I wrote more on this parent-offspring conflict here.)

So next time you see a scruffy bird with fuzzy eyebrows and a yellow gape, you can still think it looks silly (they do!), but also think about the challenges it and its parents face. The fledgling period is a complex and fascinating time.

Older junco fledgling RONA

Older junco fledgling RONA

Note: most of what I’ve said applies to temperate altricial birds. Tropical birds and precocial birds (e.g. ducklings) will be a somewhat different story.

References:

A lot, and I really need to program some temperature loggers now, so I’m not going to list them out at the moment. There’s been tons of really neat work on fledglings. If you’re wondering about a specific thing, let me know and I’ll tell you the source. I’ll try to fill in this section properly next time I get a free moment.

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136 thoughts on “The fledgling problem

  1. I love your photography, and the way you describe things in such a way that I don’t have to be a biologist to understand your explanations. Thanks!

  2. Extraordinary that “an extra week of parental care can halve the mortality rate.” That seems an easy choice for the parent–but I understand your point, that it depends on what they have to give up that week. Thanks for providing references to your other writing. (And for striking red background to robin fledgling!) Still don’t see why their eyebrows are so huge.

  3. Love these photos – and the descriptions of fledgling life.
    I get very attached to the nesting bird families in my garden. I’m convinced the robins actually know that when they spot a lurking cat, if they raise a ruckus, I’ll come running out of the house and chase the cats away. The robins seem to perch in the tree above, cheering me on, then they swoop down just as the cat is running, as if they were chasing him themselves.

  4. Pingback: Mockingbird Fledgling | Creative Musings of Ledia Runnels

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I just had a little drama with a nest of juncos under the eaves of our house that I believe was disturbed by roof rats. I thought they were all lost, then noticed in the nearby garden one fledgling with a yellow gape and hardly anything but stubs for tail feathers. I thought for sure it was too young to be out of the nest but I can see from these photos that the bird is right on time. Plus the parents were nearby and not at all happy with me for snooping around. Whew. I’m wishing them well and leaving them be.

    • Oh dear – I’m glad at least one made it! Juncos can leave the nest quite young if they’re in danger. One of the nests at my field site got stepped on by cows, and two of the chicks, although very young, managed to flee and were raised just fine by their parents. The parents being near where you saw the chick and mad at you are an EXCELLENT sign!

  6. i had to put a fledgling back in the nest to save it-there are so many stray cats here and one was sitting right in front of it -it was using it like a toy and the mother bird was going crazy screaming at the cat but couldnt help the baby -there was so safe place to put it where a cat or my neighbors dog coiuldnt get it since i think the dog already got one-i watched this mother bird take care of these babies and even today with the fledging watched her try to show it how to get up on the fence but the baby kept hopping and ended up by a stray cat-i dont know what to do to save it and feel bad that i dont think any of then will survive.

    • That sounds tough to watch, Teresa, I’m sorry. Cats are a real problem for fledglings. If you can find anywhere with enough brush that the fledgling can hide, that would be a good place to put it; hiding is probably its best bet. If the fledgling can make it a few more days, either by hiding or by being defended by kind people like you, it will be able to fly and better at escaping. Best of luck in your fledgling-defense and I hope some of them do make it!

  7. I discovered a nest outside my bedroom window and enjoyed watching from inside the house as the mother and father bird fed their young. I woke up one morning and discovered a cat with the dead mother bird in her mouth. I was really worried for the babies but was happy when I discovered the father bird was still feeding them. A few days after I woke up to lots of noisy, hungry baby birds screaming out. After watching the nest for a long time I realised that the father bird must have succumbed to the cat also. I decided I would have to take over with the feeding of them. I did some research on what to feed and soaked cat food and cooked and cooled it, I also gave them boiled egg and mealworms cut up, all from tweezers, which they readily took from me. I continued to feed them every 30 – 45 mins from sunrise to sunset and they continued to thrive. Well last night I noticed that they had hopped out of their nest and were sitting on the banister next to the nest. I thought to myself it wouldn’t be long until they would leave the nest. I was right, I woke up this morning and they were all gone. I looked everywhere for them but they were nowhere to be seen. Now I wish I had taken them inside and put them in a box because I don’t know how they could survive without me feeding them. I figured they would hang around the backyard and I could continue to feed them. I didn’t want to imprint them too much as I knew that it could make it harder for them to survive in the wild. I’m feeling really sad about the whole thing as they were healthy strong little birds and now I don’t even know where they are or if they are alright.

    • Hi Deanna,

      I’m sorry to agree with you that they probably don’t have much chance without parental care as fledglings, especially in such a cat-haunted area. Caring for baby birds is tricky. In the future I’d urge you to find out where your closest wildlife rehabilitator is and bring any orphaned or injured birds to them: they’re trained to raise birds without imprinting, and know how to care for them so that they can be released happy and healthy. Too, if you’re interested, look into becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator yourself, or volunteering with your local rehabber. I think we owe it to the animals to get them help that is as expert as possible, and in cases like these, the experts are wildlife rehabbers.

      As for this nest, try to treasure the time you had with the chicks, and know that at least you gave them the gift of a little extra time.

    • just reading your post now deanna. that was so nice that u cared for the birds until they became fledglings. i don’t know anything about birds, but i think that even though they may have had a tough time hopping around on the ground & looking for food without their mom, there’s still a chance that the dad was alive (he may have been spooked after u fed them & stayed away). also – perhaps one of the fledglings made it on its own … they prob knew to try to pick around & find a worm or bug to eat ;)

  8. Hello, there – I am hoping that perhaps you could answer a question for me. We were intently observing a family of mockingbirds (mom, dad and two babies) who took up residence in a bush at the front of our house. We did our best not to disturb them and kept our distance so mom and dad could do their exhaustive work of feeding and guarding their babies without having to worry about us humans stressing them out. We took particular care to keep our two cats in the house, especially while they were nesting and when the two babies left the nest. The cats seemed pretty intimidated by these mockery but we were to taking any chances. We noticed that in the two days after the babies left the nest, we could still hear them in bushes behind our house and also across the street. It appeared one baby wound up across the street with dad and the other hung back for a day but wound up in our back yard with mom. We could see that mom and dad were still feeding their babies while they hid in the bushes and they were still keeping a watchful eye on them. I found it reassuring to hear the sounds of the babies calling out to their parents in the two days after they left their nest because it meant they were still alive. I marveled at the parents constant work and patience and wondered how long thy could keep it up because these babies were still so very helpless and vulnerable to other predators, including larger birds. Around three days after the first baby left the nest, I no longer heard the sound of them and I no longer saw any sign of the babies OR the parents. It’s like the whole family just disappeared altogether. The yard seems eerily quiet and kind of lonely now, especially after all the constant chatter and activity that had been taking place while they were nesting. I understand that the babies will practice their flying skills for several days after they leave the nest but is it normal for the babies AND parents to disappear altogether somewhere around day three of this process? I’m hoping that it’s possible they found a more interesting place to hang out but deep down I’m afraid something may have happened to the babies or worse, the entire family. I’ve seen no sign of “foul play” anywhere in the yard but I’m still not reassured that all is well for this beautiful family of mockers. Any input you could share about what may have come of them would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Chrissie,
      It’s impossible to know for sure what happened. It may be, as you fear, that both chicks got eaten. However, it’s also very possible that the parents simply moved the family somewhere else. Depending on how old the chicks were when they fledged, day 3 may have been the day that they were able to fly well enough to be moved far away. Or maybe the parents had a close call with a cat, crow, hawk, etc. and decided it would be better to go somewhere else. If your backyard isn’t the only good habitat around, then I think it’s definitely possible that they moved out.
      Also, regarding your fear that something may have happened to the whole family: you can be pretty confident that the parents are okay, I think. If both chicks died, the parents would either leave or behave unobtrusively again; your not seeing them doesn’t mean they’ve died.
      I do think there’s a good chance that everyone is okay. I completely sympathize with your frustration over not knowing!

  9. My question is regarding the time when fledglings first leave the nest. Some finches just hatched outside my bedroom window on the third floor of an apt building. Other than the rail the nest is on, there are no branches or other perching areas and it is a straight drop down to a concrete area. Will the baby birds be able to safely get down from the nest as they transition from nestling to fledgling? Baby birds are awesome, I would love it if they get a fair chance at a birds life.

  10. I found a baby mocking bird in texas about 10 days ago. Eyes closed, bald! He is now perching on his hanging basket and jumping into the large box he’s in. When should I trybto releade him. I live in the country…..lots of predators!

  11. Thanks so much for the information on fledgings! I helped some young fledgings, mother was solid blue, get through a severe thunderstorm by placing them in a warm, dry, protected place. The mother fed them the entire time. One was able to fly, but the other wasn’t as advanced. One morning they were all gone. We had them for 2 nights. I am wondering HOW LONG before a fledging can fly? Is is a matter of hours? days? weeks? I got attached to them and I’m worried. Thanks.

  12. How far do fledgling robins travel from their original nest? I found an uninjured fledgling on the road in a residential area and there was little to no groubd vegetation, but high tree cover. I had to move the bird approx 75 yards away to find shrubs and trees. Will the parents find it?

  13. Thanks for the article, and everyone’s comments. That said, not mentioning cats in the article, in your list of predators is to me bordering on “criminal”. Cats are one of the greatest dangers to baby birds (and adults as well), killing approximately 2 billion birds in the US every year, so they belong on that list (and people need to be aware of it… including irresponsible cat owners). What we really need IMO are more predators to keep the marauding “pet” and feral cats under control… On a lighter note, you were wondering and commenting on the tendency of Robins and some other fledglings to become still like statues, since they have no other defense. It’s definitely a survival strategy, but I also think it’s due to being TERRIFIED!! As in the saying, “petrified with fear”. And that is one of the basic survival techniques of living beings-fight, flight, or freeze (and hope you’re not noticed, or don’t attract attention. Even a cat that freezes is less likely to be chased by a dog than one who runs away! And of course, being a strategy for surviving, and being “petrified” (ie, turned to stone) are not mutually exclusive.

  14. Thanks for the article! I am lucky enough to have wrens nest in some of my nesting boxes every year. They keep coming back so must think it’s safe! The male when he is searching for a mate is so full of beautiful song. I cannot get over how loud they are for such a tiny bird! They are fierce protective little devils, and woe betide me when setting up my cushions on my deck swing for a nice sit with my first coffee of the day. They give new meaning to the phrase – parting your hair! They do! Literally – if I dare to even venture near their end of the deck. I am lucky enough not to have any cats (been there, done that phase) and now have dogs. Two medium sized Blue Heelers, and an 11lb Chihuahua. The activity has been quite wearing. How the Wren parents cope, I haven’t a clue. Between feeding all 4 (I think) little gaping mouths and picking up and flying off with little white poop packets, they must be worn out. They are a joy to watch. I have missed fledging every year as Ma and Pa are very clever and wait until my menagerie and I are safely indoors before initiating their brood to the joys of flying. Luckily I have a very large stand of Lilacs right next to my deck, so after negotiating from nesting box to deck rail….the Lilac is right there. They hide in there for several days, while their parents chide me for daring to step out onto my own deck. Then go about the business of feeding their fluttering little brood and no doubt explaining the meaning of life!. No cats in our area due to the nasty Fisher-cats that hang out in the local forest that decimate the cat population. The amount of cats that go missing in our area is notorious. I really feel for the pet owners, but new residents don’t do their homework, otherwise there would be a lot of indoor kitties! My dogs, luckily are only interested in Squirrels and Chipmunks, so if a yellow-billed little fledger were to hop around on the deck, and they made a move….I would be on them in a hurry!! It is a joy and a privilege that they come back every year….despite me, my swing and my rather noisy dogs.

    • I certainly do envy your daily activities with these beautiful creatures. Animals and birds around me all day would dwelve me into mother nature’s essence. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I wonder if you could help me? What would be the usual reason for an uninjured, fledgling American Robin to die? Thanks

    • Hi Stephen,
      Do you mean in the wild or in the care of a rehabilitator? In the wild, an uninjured fledgling robin would be most in danger from predators (cats, corvids, weasels, etc.). Depending on how long its parents fed it, and how much food was available in the area, it might also be at risk of dying of starvation. Disease is a possibility, but I don’t know enough about that to guess how likely it is.
      If you mean a fledgling in the care of a human, it’s most likely to die due to being fed incorrectly, due to the stress of captivity, or… well, fledglings in human care don’t have a great survival rate, and I’m not sure we entirely know why. They may have a developmental defect (which may be why their parents stopped caring for them). A wildlife vet would know much better than I would.

  16. Might you have a suggestion? Last spring we had a robin’s nest in the eaves of our front porch, about 7-8 feet above a cement walkway. Sadly over the period of about a week we found 3 dead baby birds on the cement, trying to leave the nest but landing on the concrete (our family witnessed the first one while watching from the window, not expecting it to fall to its death). The parents are back and building another nest, is there something we can construct to help soften the fall for the fledglings this year?

    • I placed a twin sized mattress foam padding going down the stairs. not sure how it will work as i couldn’t place it well as momma attacked me over and over trying to help. was given information from wildlife sanctuary to put outside seat cushions but too expensive. will reply once i see if it works.

  17. My friend took a baby fleding bird home because he fort it was injured, he researched more about it and found out it was fledging, then put it back were he found it with plenty of bread and worm’s around it also small pieces of apple. I’m wondering will the mother leave it or will she still continue to look after it?

    • Hi Charley, yes! The parents will definitely look after it if your friend put it back where he’d found it (and it hadn’t been more than a day or so since he took it). The parents will be very happy to have their chick back and to care for it.

  18. I have 2 baby robins fledglings but no parents what do I do if they still need to learn skills and if I let them go will they make it on there own ?

  19. There’s a baby mocking bird in my yard. He’s pretty big, but you can tell he’s just a baby. He comes out and sits on the wood pile during the day and I put some food for him to eat. He does pick at the food, so he is eating. Is the mother around or is he on his own?

    • Hi Tamy,
      If he looks like a bird – covered in feathers, with no big patches of bare pink skin – then he’s old enough to be out of the nest and eating on his own. His parents are probably still around, but he may be transitioning to independence; depends how old he is (and how much energy/patience his parents had!). As long as he doesn’t get nabbed by someone’s pet cat or dog, he should be fine.

  20. I found a fledgling, probably a starling outside my gym a few days ago. Couldn’t place it anywhere as it was night time. Out of fear of it being eaten by cats, I brought it home and put it inside a cardboard box, enclosed on all sides, with punched holes around it. I fed it boiled eggs forcefully for the first day with a few drops of water rubbed at its beak. The next day, it started eating worms, so I fed it all the earthworms I could get every 2 hrs. It would tuck its head and take a nap after almost every meal. After I fed it in the evening, I perched it on a stick inside its box. It once again tucked its head and went off for the night. This morning, I couldn’t hear it chirping. So, I went to look at it, half asleep, only to find it dead below its perch. Now, I do not what I did wrong. I feel guilty about not letting it go all the time; but then, I do not even know if it’d survive outside on its own. I feel terrible about not caressing it in a proper manner. Even my mom keeps asking me if I did something wrong with it or if the cat had something to do with it. I do not know how a healthy and active bird would suddenly die this way. Could you give me some insight about it? After this loss, I’m planning to get an African Grey or a Cockatoo as my companion, as I’m too saddened by my loss. Thank you!

    • This is why it’s always best to contact certified wildlife rehabilitators. Caring for wild animals is very difficult; it’s too easy to make a mistake that is deadly for the animal (e.g., feeding the wrong thing or the wrong amount). A diet of purely boiled eggs and earthworms is not what a starling would normally eat, and probably caused problems. Also, if you were force feeding, you probably were feeding too much.
      Next time you find a fledgling, leave it where it is. Fledglings are meant to be outside the nest; they hide, and their parents feed them until they can fly. If a baby bird is covered in feathers, it does not need your help, even if it can’t fly yet: the parents will feed it until it grows up enough to fly. Please do not “rescue” baby birds unless they are 1) obviously too young, i.e. NOT covered in feathers, or 2) obviously injured.
      I’m sorry for your loss, and I know you meant well. Please use this as a learning experience and leave fledglings to their own lives next time.

      • No! I just force-fed it twice for the first day, that too just about 2 ccs, when it wouldn’t eat at first. The next day, it started eating worms on its own. Never once had to force-feed it. Assuming that it enjoyed worms and was opening its mouth every time it saw me, I continued feeding it. And also, I had no choice but to bring it home. It was night in a sub-urban area and the place was cat-infested. I just had the conclusion that maybe it was the cardboard box that killed him. But it had holes on all the sides for proper ventilation. Or does perching at night stress them out? I felt its crop too. It was fine. Thank you!

        P.S. – We don’t have wildlife rehabs here. People even don’t know what they are.

    • (Replying to your reply, but don’t seem to be able to nest comments any deeper) – okay, good that you weren’t force-feeding. Perching at night is fine. The bird probably thought it was strange that it was dark all the time, but I don’t think that would do physical harm. The worms may still have been a problem: birds usually get more varied diets, including more calcium (from insect exoskeletons) and other hard bits. Recommended diet mixes for baby birds (which are findable online from people who raise starlings, which it’s true that many wildlife rehabs won’t take because they’re invasive) generally include kibble soaked in water (plus various other things), which has more gritty bits than a worm, which probably makes digestion work better.
      Another possible issue is that you were feeding it too much. I know you say it was gaping, but here’s one of the many tricky things about baby birds – sometimes they keep gaping forever, even when they need to stop and digest. It’s possible to overfeed a very hungry-acting bird. Not all species do this, and I’m not sure if starlings do.
      It’s also quite possible that the bird died for a reason completely unrelated to you. In my field work I’ve seen chicks die in the nest for no clear reason, even though the parents were feeding them and their siblings were doing fine.
      I apologize for assuming that picking up the fledgling was the wrong move; it almost always is, but there are cases where it isn’t, and without knowing exactly the situation, I shouldn’t assume. I do encourage everyone to make not-picking-up-the-fledgling the default except in extreme circumstances, just to be safe. But you know your neighborhood: it may have been the right choice.
      Out of curiosity, where (generally speaking) are you, that you don’t have any wildlife rehabs?

      • Sorry, I couldn’t comprehend your starting statement about nesting comments. Well, now that you’ve given me a general idea about birds, I’ll make sure that I keep all these in mind while dealing with any birds in future. Also, there are 3 Bulbul fledglings nesting near my place. I’ll keep analyzing them. I’m in Sikkim – a kingdom some few years ago. Now, one of the most Eco-friendly and prosperous state of India. Wildlife, though not varied, are here in ample amounts. Just haven’t ever encountered a rehabber here, although forest rangers are a pretty common sight. Thank you for your detailed insight on my matter. I now have something less to worry about. Cheers!

  21. I’ve noticed that Robin parents tend to favor one baby in the nest they feed this one more so he grows quicker. Is that so it will leave the nest first and give the remaining babies more room.

    • Robins generally have chicks that are slightly different ages in the same nest. (E.g., a nest might have a 3-day-old, 2-day-old, and 1-day-old chick in it.) The older chicks will be bigger. Parents tend to feed the biggest chick most, probably because that chick is the best at pushing his siblings out of the way; but we do know that they also make an effort to feed the smaller chicks. Some people have hypothesized that having the staggered sizes of chicks spreads out the feeding demands on the parents, which is a similar idea to what you’ve proposed; we don’t really know if that’s true. It probably isn’t related to making more room in the nest, since the babies usually all leave the nest within the same 24 hrs. If the babies are looking crowded in the nest you’re observing, they’re probably going to fledge soon!

  22. Thanks for all your helpful information too. I too am sad today as I tried to “rescue” a robin fledgling last night. We have many coons and wild critters outside so I made a temporary nesting box for him trying to give him the best chance. Unfortunately I found him gone this morning. Apparently I didn’t locate the nesting box high enough and found a little blood spatter in the bottom of my box. I feel horrible – perhaps he would have had a better chance to survive had I left alone. I have learned . . . . unfortunately the hard way ;-( Poor little thing . . . .

    • Predation is a part of being a wild animal; if he was eaten, he may well have fed someone else’s babies. It’s hard to know what happened, though: fledglings do move around quite a bit sometimes. It’s possible he left on his own. (Fledglings don’t need a nest – they can just perch in shelter such as bushes.)

  23. Hi love your blog…..ive got a fledgling in my Garden mum and dad come all the time to feed it but it cant fly yet i hope it survives x

  24. I’ve cared for animals since I was a child – I’m now 55. LOVE, love, love them!
    I’m presently caring for a baby mockingbird who, my cat brought me, at 3:30 in the morning completely unharmed. We were good buddy’s after 24 hours of being together. (I don’t really know the sex). It’s been a week now! It is SO cool watching a bird grow up! It was just yesterday when he started pecking at things. It’s like having a child and for the first time and see what he’s learned. He’s getting more balanced with his flying but still falling from time to time. Especially when he can’t figure out why he can’t stand on the window when it’s showing cross bars that are in between. LOL. It’s funny to watch.
    How soon do you think it would be before he can eat on his own? Presently I have a bowl of water with raisins smashed and torn apart, grapes in smaller pieces and blueberries. Yesterday was his first day of having crickets. It was interesting to watch his reaction. Earth worms was Ok in the beginning but he gets picky on me. In another bowl is cat food soften. I know this is a little advanced but I had brought this bell shaped bird food – for song birds. This way, maybe once he starts to really peck, he can learn where to get food in case all else fails. I’ll be hanging it up at the time I release him outside to really sore. Right now my whole glass room is devoted to him. I leave a window open so he can hear his own kind. As you read earlier, I have cats – 2. The bird may have been lucky the first time but may not be so lucky the second. So I have to be careful on how I do this.

    • Hi Diana,
      I’m glad your mockingbird is doing well so far. He’s going to peck at things *and* expect you to feed him for a while: he needs to learn how to eat, which takes time. Don’t stop feeding him if he’s gaping (opening his mouth) at you still, but if you see him eating on his own, you can start to gradually feed him less. Eventually he will stop gaping at you at all, and just eat on his own.
      The food you’ve been giving sounds generally good. Blueberries, any other berries, and grapes cut in berry-sized pieces are good. For your softened kibble (i.e. dry cat or dog food soaked in water), also chop up a hard-boiled egg and mix it in with the kibble for some extra protein. A little bit of chopped-up leafy veggies and chopped-up fruit would be a great addition too. Store this mix in the fridge so it doesn’t go bad, and don’t store for more than 2 days. The crickets are a good idea, but even better would be mealworms. You should be able to find live mealworms at a pet store or bait shop. (Don’t use earthworms – there are lots of different kinds, and some are toxic.) You can leave a bowl of mealworms for the bird to practice picking up and eating.
      You’ll want to have all of these food things available to the bird. I.e. a dish of berries/fruits, a dish of wet kibble mix, and a dish of mealworms. And a dish of water, of course.
      Mockingbirds aren’t big seed-eaters, especially the young ones, so he may not be able to do much with your birdseed bell.
      Don’t release him until he is eating *entirely* on his own – never gaping to you – and until he can fly very well. (Watch out, as he learns to fly he may try to fly out windows, and could hurt or even kill himself crashing into the glass. Cover windows if he is flying around a room.) This is especially important because of your cats: he needs to be able to escape them. Another problem with the cats is going to be that he may approach you after you release him, and if your cats are nearby… So consider taking him somewhere where you know there are fewer cats, or keeping your cats indoors for a few days after you release him. *Definitely* don’t let him get used to the cats in your house: if he thinks cats aren’t dangerous, he won’t live long outside.

  25. Tragic outcome here in Rockville, MD. Robins constructed a nest last month under our deck umbrella, which was an amazing feat, and two chicks were being raised in it. Yesterday we came back home and discovered their two butchered bodies on the deck, as well as same of a parent a few feet away. The predator left wings and legs strewn about, but nothing else. We know that there’s a stray cat roaming in the area. I collected and buried the body parts, and closed down the umbrella after removing the empty nest. We don’t wish to go through another horrible episode like this one.

    • Oh no! That’s a sad story. Unfortunately that’s part of being a small bird, especially a baby: it’s a very dangerous world. About half of all baby birds don’t survive. Of course, it doesn’t help when humans introduce extra predators (cats) either. I hope you have more positive bird experiences in the future!

  26. What do you do if you find baby orphan birds, they are now fledglings, they were hopping around but I think one hurt it’s leg and since it won’t hop around the other won’t either. They are still eating and alert but just won’t get up…what should I do?

  27. Pingback: What Are The Little Yellow Birds Called | ziitika1

  28. Hi. I’m afraid before I read up on baby birds I found 2 fledglings on the ground and thought I was saving them and put them back in the nest. One of the fledglings immediately got back out of the nest the other one has remained in the nest for what’s going on three days now. Both parents are around and it looks like the mom is feeding the fledgling in the nest. My concern is by putting it back in the nest I’ve somehow stunted its progression and now it will not leave. Should I put the fledgling back on the ground where I found it? Or put the nest on the ground with fledgling in it? Or do I just leave it alone and let the mother care for it?

    • Don’t worry, it doesn’t sound like you had any negative effects. The fledgling who stayed in the nest maybe decided he didn’t want to leave home yet after all :-) I’m confident he’ll leave within the next few days; fledglings get restless. As long as the parents are feeding him there, he’ll be fine. Don’t handle him again: he can figure out where he wants to be.

  29. I’ve heard a bird chirping frantically for the last two hours. Went outside and found it on a small tree twig. It did not fly away when I came close. Listened to it for a while longer and heard it go to the front of the deck. Peaked through the door and saw it’s mom, a Cardinal, come and feed it. I realized then that it was a baby bird or fledgling. It must be capable of flight since it could not have hoped onto the front deck. So enjoyed your article and never knew that fledglings looked so strangely cute. It was so special to me to be an eyewitness to the baby feeding!

  30. I am devastated right now. For the past several days we have had a fledgling (finch?) in our yard and have watched the mom feeding it. A couple of hours ago I watered the yard and must have scared the baby. My husband found it drowned in the pool. The mother has been flying around looking for her baby. I feel so guilty and sad. Just sharing.

  31. Concerned about a pair of baby robins that have returned to a nest on the garage door opener .. The babies look almost full grown and they have returned to the nest two days ago … There is a drought here in Ontario and am worried they can’t find food or water .. There are no worms coming up with the ground this dry .. Help !!

    • Hi Dylan,
      You could try putting out a robin bird feeder. If you set out a shallow dish full of mealworms (can buy these at pet stores or bait shops) somewhere obvious, there’s a chance the parents will see it and feed there. (Or at the least, you’ll make whatever birds do find it very happy.) If you can put it near where the babies are, they might even feed themselves from it.

      I recommend mealworms over worms because some kinds of commonly-sold worms are weirdly toxic to certain species. Also, the mealworms will crawl around in the dish a lot, and the motion should be better able to attract the attention of the robins.

      This is a bit of a long shot I’m afraid, but it’s all I can think of. Let me know what happens!

      • Thanks for the quick reply !! The issue is the birds are in an indoor structure, about 20 feet inside the shop. So I am concerned he won’t land on the floor when I put the meal worms down. Also a few chipmunks in there that may quickly devour those .. But it is an idea .. Any way to take that a step forward in the location this nest is in? Once again it is I too of the garage door opener far inside the shop ..

        Also one of the babies is gone again. It’s funny me calling them babies because the my appear to be full grown and no baby feathers left .. They are fully capable of flying around and everything .. It’s just with this drough, I feel the parents abandoned them to early, based on the assumption they couldn’t be thought to find worms because the ground is so hard .. Maybe they don’t know how to find food?

        Thoughts?? I will also try the meal worms tomorrow anyways , worth a try .

  32. Hi there.. This is a shot in the dark looking for answers before morning but here it goes! I found what appears to be a yellow bellied woodpecker fledgling, I thought he was injured in some way because my dog ( such a sweet girl) found it on my lane way. The bird didn’t appear to be scared and didn’t try to get away.. Over several hours there was no sign of a parent coming by to check the baby although I did move it as it was unsafe where it was and Being too late in the evening I wasn’t able to take it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre I decided to bring him in for the night. He he is happily and safety sleeping now. My question is can I put him back out in the morning in hopes that a parent will come to find him or has it been too long over night and the parents will have given up hope? Or should I go ahead and send him to rehab? He doesn’t seem obviously hurt or sick… Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Andrea,
      Definitely put him back out in the morning; the parents will sleep over night, then look for him in the morning. If they don’t come for him all day, then it’s time to think about a wildlife rehab center.
      Hope it works out for your little woodpecker!

  33. Hi! I have a nest with three baby robins just outside my house. Today I witnessed one of them come out of the nest! After a while I hanging in the nest’s tree, it took off in flight and appeared to fall in some bushes pretty far away from the tree! I could not find it in the dense brush. Do you think there’s any chance this little fledgling will survive? Is it a good thing it flew off to different cover? Seems too early and too far for its first day out of the nest. Any expertise is much appreciated, thank you!

    • Absolutely – I think your little robin has good chances. Fledglings generally stay relatively close to the best at first, but that’s on the scale of the parents, who can easily fly a long distance quickly: their idea of “close” may not match yours. It’s a good sign that the fledgling went away from the nest: the nest is dangerous, because it’s full of other noisy birds who could attract predators. The fledgling is more likely to go undetected in his new hiding place (which is why the chicks fledge).
      You’ll have trouble seeing the fledgling – he’ll be hiding – but you can look out for the parents hopping around holding bugs and not eating them: if the parents are doing that, they’re collecting food for the babies, meaning at least one is still alive.

  34. Hi. I’m from South Africa. We found a baby swallow on the ground in our garden. It doesn’t look like the little thing’s legs is working properly. Is a fledgeling’s legs supposed to be developed probably or do they still struggle to stand or walk or jump?

    • Hi Michelle,
      A fledgling swallow should be able to perch, but might not be good at walking/jumping (swallows don’t really do those activities). He probably overestimated his flight abilities, poor guy. If you can put him somewhere high up, he may be able to get food from his parents, or follow them to a safe place they choose.

  35. How long does it take for a fledging to learn how to fly? I have dogs and they sadly killed one baby bird. I don’t want to let them out into the yard until the birds have the capability to fly off.
    Thanks!
    Jessica

    • The longer you can keep the dogs away, the better; but the crucial time is the first week out of the nest. After a week, most fledglings should be at least somewhat flighted. (How flighted they need to be depends on how skilled your dogs are at hunting, too.)

  36. What can I do if my cat has caught a fledging? It is not hurt and I have left it in the garden but my worry is that the cat may have brought it in to the garden from somewhere else and it’s mum won’t know where it is.

    • The best you can do is to put it somewhere safe (in a bush or dense vegetation is generally good) in your garden. It will call for the parents, and it’s likely the parents will find it – fledglings often wander off, so the parents should be looking over a broad area. (I also doubt the cat could have carried it very far without harming it, so it probably came from nearby.)

      Also, keep your cat indoors for a while if you can! Otherwise the cat may just finish the job.

      • Thanks. I have done my best to hide it in the garden. It has been calling out for about an hour now and no sign of parents 😢 I’m worried it will die

        • Give it a few hours. Contrary to what you might hear, baby birds – especially fledglings – can survive a few hours without food no problem, and the parents may be busy feeding their other kids.

          As a backup plan, it wouldn’t hurt to search online to see if there is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you. If you find one, and if the fledgling hasn’t been found by the parents after 3-4 hours, consider calling them to see what their advice is. (They may tell you to wait longer.)

          If you have a photo of the fledgling and send it to me at klabarbera[at]berkeley.edu, I can try to figure out how old it is, which may affect what you do here. A young fledgling needs its parents much more than an older one.

  37. We’ve had a nest of fledglings on our porch & they just left their nest tonight. Is it dangerous for fledglings to be active at night?

    • It’s more usual for chicks to leave the nest in the morning, but it’s fine if they leave in the evening. They’ll probably scatter to some safe hiding places in dense brush, go to sleep, and be awake and begging for food from their parents bright and early the next morning.

  38. We left for vacation and came back to a nest in the lid of our propane tank. In a high traffic area for us and our dogs. It’s right next to the house and deck. Mowing and gardening happen in that area a lot. As well as when the propane gets filled. I peaked in and they aren’t old enough to leave th nest, but aren’t pink. How long do they fledge? It’s unrealistic to keep the one dog out of the yard since they need to be outside some as well. If our presence gradually increases will the mother tolerate it?

    • It’s hard to be exact without photos or knowing the exact species. Given that they have feathers, it could be up to 14 days until they’re ready to leave (but probably less). The adult birds probably won’t feed the chicks while you (or the dog) are close, but if you can stay away for scattered periods of time (e.g. mow for one hour, then stay away for one hour), they can feed them in your absence.

      The most dangerous time, with respect to the dog and the mowing, will actually be right after they leave the nest. The fledglings will be clumsy and slow, not yet able to fly, and will rely on hiding; they’ll be vulnerable to being mowed over or being sniffed out by the dog. If you can keep an eye on the nest and try to give the area a wide berth the first few days after the chicks disappear, that will make a big difference. (Even if the dog can’t be kept away all the time, everything helps – keeping an eye on him to see that he isn’t eating a baby bird, reducing his time out in that area, etc.)

      Good luck!

  39. Why would 2 out of 4 robin fledglings leave the others behind? I’ve been watching a robins nest for about 10 days now and there are 2 missing, but the parents are still feeding the remaining babies. Thanks!!

    • Baby birds generally all leave the nest at the same time, but sometimes they leave over the course of 24-48 hours, so you can have a time period where some are fledged and some aren’t. Probably the ones who left were the biggest/most developed, while their siblings are still growing a bit (or just feeling lazy). Fun fact: in robins, when some chicks are fledged and some aren’t, it’s usually the female who feeds the chicks that are still in the nest while the male attends the fledglings.

  40. This year we have a nest on the guttering by our front door. Though it is cool to see the progress of the chicks, I worry for them as if I am their parent. I no longer let my dog out front, and keep the bird feeder full so the “real” parents don’t have far to go to feed, however, I worry that THAT will make for fledglings who are going to be eternally dependent on the feeder. While I intend to keep it full, things happen, and that makes me worry what will happen if something happens to me. I may not always be able to afford to feed them. I guess I just want you to tell me they’ll be fine, so tell me that, please. :-)

    • It’s actually a great idea to keep the dog away for a few weeks. When the chicks first fledge, they’ll be very vulnerable, and dogs have a talent for finding them at that stage.

      The feeder is probably having less effect than you think. Almost no birds can eat seeds as babies (certain finches, like Zebra Finches, are the exception, but I don’t think any of our native North American finches are included); they need soft, protein-rich food that is easily digestible: bugs! So there is no way that the chicks will grow up dependent on the feeder. The parents may be eating for their own nutrition from the feeder, or they may not; this time of year, there are so many bugs around that birds don’t really need feeders.

      Which is all to say: if something happens to you, they will be okay! And if you want to make your birdseed budget stretch as far as possible, consider prioritizing the feeder in the winter, rather than right now. You’ll make more of a difference by supplementing birds in the lean months.

  41. Hi, so nice to read your article…soo beautiful that u know so much about their world! I hav a bird nest just outside my window, the baby will soon get into fledgling stage. Do all fledglings fall from nest (no matter how high their nest is) to come on ground for few days untill they fly? Dont they get hurt? Mother dove has also reduced its visits a lot to the nest. Can u explain please. Many thanks.

  42. Hello, my husband and I are having a dilemma. We have a robins next on our porch on top of one of our colums/under our upper porch. Today we found what we think is a fledgling on our porch in the open. The baby bird has feathers but cannot walk or fly (he can’t seem to get his legs under him to stand) and when he lifts his wings up there is a lot of pink skin still. My husband and I made a new nest from a cardboard box and paper towels and put it on top of another column two columns down from the original nest. Then we used gloves to put the baby bird in there. The mom has since flown in and out to feed the original nest but hasn’t gone to the new nest (it’s been about an hour). What should we do? We are worried the baby bird is going to starve and are worried we did the wrong thing by putting it in a new nest. It just didn’t quite look like a complete fledgling when it was struggling on the porch (i.e. I don’t think it could perch). Also, it may have fallen from the nest because we had a strong storm come through with high winds prior to finding the bird. Please help.

    • Can you reach the real nest to put the chick back in there? If the chicks are too young to fledge, the parents may not look outside the nest for them. (Don’t worry about that myth that birds won’t take babies back after humans have handled them – it’s completely untrue.)

  43. My husband and I think that the 4 fledglings we saw (species unknown) fell from their nest. They were near our parking spot which is near a pole. The nest was in the top of that pole. We put them back in their nest, but, judging from their condition on the ground, they may not make it. I’m a sentamentalist. So, holding something so fragile and small in my hands was an incredible experience I will never forget.

    • You did your best – it’s great that you were able to put them back in the nest. That gives them the best shot at survival that they will have.

      I don’t know what about their condition has you concerned, but baby birds can sometimes come back from a lot. That combination of fragility and resilience is one of the things I find so amazing about birds.

  44. Thank you for all of your information. I have a house finch nest with babies under the carport. It is a bad spot for them because of my 2 cats. I have done my best to make sure the cats can’t reach the nest. After the birds fledge, can I remove the nest and put up barriers so the birds can’t rebuild there? Will the birds have time to find a new place to nest before their next brood? I love all animals, and it is too stressful for me to have the birdies where they are. I live in the country, so one would think the birds could find a new place, but they are called “house” finches for a reason, I suppose. They used this nesting spot in 2015, but not in 2016, and now in 2017….stressful for all involved. Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • Yes, once the nest is not in use (no eggs or chicks present) you can remove it and block off the space. I don’t know whether the birds will be able to find another spot to nest; house finches are cavity nesters, and cavities are in high demand, since they are created only by a few species (woodpeckers) but used to nest by many more. This is why bird houses often attract birds: there are always birds looking for a new cavity. If you’re feeling guilty about removing that spot as a possible nesting site, you could consider putting up a birdhouse somewhere safe.

      • Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I moved the bird bath closer to the carport and more in the open (cats) and parked the cars on the other side of the driveway (cats) and I have done what I can do for them. They made their first quiet chirping sounds today (they were born about 6 days ago). I will definitely put up a cavity for them in a safer spot. I think I will make a small crude wood box with a cover overhead,and place her old nest in it. Do you think saving the old nest and putting it in a new cavity would help her accept her new home??? I would assume she would know it was hers. Your website is awesome, and you are so very helpful.

  45. Hi again. Forget the above post. Michelle with the carport house finches here. This is my last effort to save the birdies. So my cats can somehow jump up 5 feet high– My only hope to save the birds is to move the nest about 5 feet away to a higher spot my cats can’t reach (~ 9 feet high). The parent birds land there all the time to fly to their nest. Is there any hope the birds will make the move??? In a perfect world, I could keep the cats in for 10 days, but that will just not work-they are used to being outside in the daytime and darned insistent about it. So, any advice about moving the nest, or shall I make up a different type of nest (box, old soft hat) and place the birds in it. I know the parents would know where they were, I just don’t know if they would reject them after I touched them and moved them (if I can’t get the nest intact). The nest is resting above a light fixture–relatively flat on the bottom. Or do you think I should just let nature take its course, as heartbreaking as it would be?

  46. Oh, one more question. My friend has a bird house-the kind with the little hole in the front, but I am not sure I could get the birds through it, or if the parents could get through it. Or are they able to squish themselves into smaller spaces than one would think??

    • Hi Michelle,

      Try to keep the old nest, and don’t put in into a birdhouse if you aren’t sure the parents can get in. Putting the old nest in a box (ideally just big enough to fit the nest, with high walls) would be good.

      The parents won’t care that you’ve touched the babies, and probably will find the nest and continue feeding as long as you’re moving it somewhere not too far that they already frequently go to, which it sounds like you are.

      Don’t just “let nature take its course” – cats aren’t natural. Cats are human-created and human-supported, so a bird killed by a cat is no more natural than a bird hit by a car. I know your cats are used to being outside, and obviously this is your decision; but consider that after you move the nest, the chicks will eventually fledge, at which point they will be fairly helpless and easily accessible for 3-5 days. If you don’t keep the cats indoors then, they are pretty much guaranteed to kill at least some of the chicks. You are weighing your cats’ annoyance against the birds’ lives.

      I certainly don’t underestimate an annoyed cat – I live with two cats – and I know it can feel very mean to deny them something they want. But they are intelligent and adept predators, and what they want right now is to play with, and then kill, these baby birds. So I urge you to consider how willing you are to aid in that (unnatural) occurrence.

      Sorry – I hate to sound preachy, or like cats are bad. I love cats. But you have the ability to save some lives here, and you’ve already shown that you care about these little lives; I hope you’ll consider it.

      • Hi and thank you for your response and advice. Don’t worry, you don’t sound preachy…you sound like an animal lover with a lot of knowledge of birds and cats. The nest move went well. We put the bird nest in a little flower pot (edge of pot level with the top of the nest), sleeping birds and all, and moved it up another two feet away from the cat access …still under the carport with no way to get up there except to jump up 8 feet straight up. Momma bird found them almost immediately and seems to be happy with the site.
        Ok, how long until they fledge? They were out of their eggs on Monday Memorial day, this is June 6. Do they hang out with mom and pop for a bit, or are they left to their own devices? Two years ago when I had a bird nest in the car port, I heard them squack for a week or so, then one morning they were all gone, not to be seen again. I was hoping that is what would happen this time. I am considering keeping the cats in. I have already left them in the house in the morning later, and I gather them up and bring them in earlier, and put them in the house for a few hours in the afternoon to give momma bird a break from them. She dive bombs them when they are near, and I am in awe of their parenting skills and devotion.
        Once they fledge, I will probably remove the flower pot nest holder and hopefully they will build a quick nest in another spot. My car port does not seem to be a good place for them. Of course, I will block off their old nesting site.
        Thank you again for all of your help and advice. You are a blessing.
        Michelle

  47. I’m so glad the nest move went well! House finches can fledge as early as 12 days after hatching, but usually more like 16 days; 12 days would be June 9, 16 days would be June 13. You may be able to tell by their vocalizations: just before fledging, they should switch from little baby peeps to more demanding squawks. Unfortunately most observers report that house finch fledglings stay in the region of the nest for the first 2-3 days, then begin roaming. However this does depend on what the area is like: generally the new fledglings will want some cover, like a good thick bush, and since I assume there are no bushes in your carport :-) the parents may lead them at least a little ways away to find somewhere appropriate. How long they stay in the area also depends on when they fledge: the younger they fledge, the less adept they will be at running/flying, so the longer they will linger in the area.
    Keep me updated! Your concern about these birds is so lovely to hear.

    • Michelle with the house finches in carport here. The birds began to flit about the carport yesterday June 11th (both cats are in the house). You really brought me down to reality when you said my cats want to play with the birds and then kill them, bottom line truth. They are cats. There are 4 little birds, they have a faint yellow on their breast. Today, we are having 35 mph wind (sustained) with gusts of 48 mph, so they are quite content to be hanging out in the carport (several good spots near their nest, but they prefer their first nesting spot, go figure). I will keep the cats in for a few more days so the birds will have a chance. Hopefully tomorrow will not be so windy, and they can practice their flying skill. I don’t blame them for not trying today in 35 mph wind. I look at keeping the cats in the house this way now….I am adding to my “good karma” bank by protecting the birds….perhaps keep my cats out of the bellies of coyotes and owls and hawks in the future, or as thanks for protecting them thus far (I have had 17 and 20 year old inside/outside country cats that died of old age). God is always good to me, and he knows and cares when a sparrow falls from the sky…it is the least I can do for the little fledglings. Heck, when I go out of town or camping or vacation, the cats get lots of food and water and litter boxes and are locked inside for days, so it is no different for them now, with the exception that I have to look at them and listen to them whine a bit. I can deal with it. I think the momma bird knows that I am a friend and am doing my best for her little brood. She never dive bombs me or chirps to loud at me when I am around. So, I will update you again when everyone is flying around on their own and finally leave the nest. You are very kind to share your knowledge and spend your time with me and others who are concerned about baby birds. You must be proud that you make a difference!
      Michelle

      • Michelle, thanks so much for the lovely update! It sounds like the fledglings are doing well, and you are definitely making a difference by keeping the cats indoors. I like your idea of adding to your karma bank – and in a way, you’re doing the cats a favor too, by not putting them in a position to do harm. (Not that the cats would see it that way, I’m sure… haha.)

        Let me know how the birds continue to fare!

  48. I found a fledgling 10 days ago, it’s a crow, and there were no parents around, I know because people that I talked to said that it was there for a couple of days alone, couldn’t stand, was out of balance, and generally very weak. Any way she is doing great now, hopping around, she can fly down from 2 m high cupboard, but still has not flown more than 30-40 cm up, she can fly from and to 2 improvised branches i made, but they are on the same level. When should i release her, because I don’t think I’ll find her parents, even though I thought about releasing her in the same place I found her, and how long does it take for them to learn how to fly/and/or how can I help her fly up more efficiently. And there are no wildlife rescues where i’m from, so I’m on my own.
    Thank you

    • Hi Elena,
      If you’ve had her for ten days, she’s definitely not going back to her parents. You’ll need to keep her until she is ready to be fully independent. That is likely to take a while – crows are big, smart birds, which means it takes longer for them to grow and to learn all they need to be a crow. I’d plan to have her for at least another month. She isn’t ready to be released until she is flying easily in all directions.
      She’ll learn to fly on her own; you can’t teach her. She will need space to practice this: the larger an area you can give her, with perches at various heights, the faster and better she will learn.

      A good diet will be important to keep her healthy and give her experience with what food looks like. An ideal diet would include the following:
      – dog kibble soaked in water until it is soft; hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters (shell on, for calcium)
      – small raw fish, like smelt, or small trout cut into pieces (the bones are also for calcium)
      – various fruits and green veggies
      -peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans (shells cracked if whole)
      -live mealworms (available at most pet shops)

      I know that’s a lot, but the more pieces you can include in her diet, the better. It’s very important that she get protein and calcium, and that she gets the vitamins in fruits and veggies. Mealworms and nuts will teach her how to eat insects and nuts in the wild.

      Good luck! Let me know if you have more questions.

      • She has a room 4×2.70 m for herself(I live in an apartment, that’s the best I can do), I already feed her most of those things, except I don’t know where to find worms, I mean to buy them. Is that enough space for her to learn to fly, and how should I release her, because I don’t live on the ground floor, and she has never flown outside.
        And thank you for the answer, because I’ve been asking so many people for days now, and you are the first one to answer to every question and this is tremendous help

        • A bigger space would be better, but what you’ve got isn’t too bad. Try to give her a high perch near the ceiling so she can work on flying up.

          For the mealworms, if you have a pet store (Petco/Petsmart or a local one), they will probably sell live mealworms in a little deli container for people to feed to their pet lizards. Just ask if you don’t see them – they’ll probably keep the mealworms in the fridge, so they may be tricky to find. Make sure you get MEALworms and not just “worms” – regular old earthworms can have parasites and aren’t nearly as good for birds.

          You have a few options for the release. One is to simply take her somewhere where you have seen crows (so you know it’s a good area for them) and let her go. If she’s fully capable of flight and has been given lots of food to play around with on her own (i.e. you haven’t been hand-feeding her recently), she will probably figure out how to be a crow outside on her own. She’ll almost certainly find other crows quickly and she can watch what they do.

          Another option is to slowly acclimate her to the outdoors by taking her outside in a wire-type cage a few times, so that she can poke around in the grass and see the sky and get used to the noises, but not escape yet. Then you would release her at that spot, and put out some food in that area for the next few days or until you stop seeing her in the area. This requires a suitable cage, an investment of time, and a good place to leave food out; the benefit is that it’s more gradual on your crow, and gives her some food while she figures out survival in the outdoors.

          A third option is to release her by opening a window and letting her fly out. (Don’t do this unless the area around your apartment is a good place for crows!) It’s possible that she would then come back to you for the first few days for food, which again would be good as she learns how to feed herself; however, it’s also quite possible that she would simply fly off and never come back.

          • Ok, so far she can fly up 1.5m, she can fly in all directions and across the room from the window to the top of the cupboard, she is starting to be really vocal and is showing me what she wants(if she wants food she will bring me a piece of leftovers and put it in front of me). She still did not fly up from the ground to the top of the cupboard , but there’s a chance she can, because she is learning really fast. So do I wait until she can fly up from the ground to the cupboard (2.5m), or not, and since I have decided to release her on ground(I live on the 6th floor), should I release her somewhere where there are a lot of crows(there’s a place nearby that has a lot of crows and a lot of youngs and fledglings ), or somewhere where there aren’t that many of them (basically my neighbourhood).
            Thank you

      • It sounds like she’s sufficiently adept at flying to be released – that’s great. Does she also feed herself, or does she still gape and have you place food in her bill? If she doesn’t gape anymore, and has no trouble eating the food you put out for her, then she sounds ready for release to me.

        I’d release her where there are other crows. It’s clearly a good area for them, and crows are very social – she’ll watch them to learn how to be a crow.

        Good luck to her! She was very fortunate that you found her.

        • She has been eating on her own for the past 10 days, she was acting like a little kid up to a couple of days ago, and then I started to notice that she is acting more like an adult, and I noticed she was eager to go out, and that she was, I guess, understimulated indoors (like there’s much more she wants to do). Ok, I’ll release her in the next couple of days, I’ll go check out where the trees she can reach flying are, and where the younger birds are.
          I thought I’d trick her buy food to get into a larger box, and then transport her like that.
          Anyways, thank you very very much for the advice and help you provided

          • Now I have a dilemma, the place where the young crows and fledglings are has trees with lowest branches way too high, and I know that she is still not capable of reaching them, and the crow population that is predominant there is not the same as she is, they are smaller black crows, not gray ones like she is (there are also gray ones , maybe 20 of them, and they usually stay high in the trees, haven’t seen a lot of them on ground . The smaller black ones are the ones that are more ground oriented). On the other hand , here in my neighbourhood, there is a smaller population of gray crows (around 10)that resemble her in appearance, and there are some much more suitable trees, and also I could maybe feed her once or twice a day if she remembers me.but no young crows here. In your opinion, which one is the better place for her.

          • It’s very important that you release her near her own species. Definitely release her near the crows that look and behave like her. Cover – including trees with branches that she can reach – is also essential, so again, yes, I’d release her in your neighborhood.

            It’s a good sign that she’s acting more like an adult and is interested in things! Very promising. Sounds like she’ll do great outside.

  49. Hello!
    The family cat brought home a new house wren fledgling. I’m gauging about 12-14 days old based on what I’ve read. He seems to be in good condition. We have been feeding him cat food temporarily and made a makeshift best on top of a heating pad until we can take him to our local vet who helps with orphaned wildlife.

    After reading your blog, I’m quite concerned about his chances of long term survival and success. Do you have any words of wisdom, other than kill the cat” which has already crossed my mind.

    • Taking him to a knowledgeable vet ASAP is crucial – make sure the vet knows he was cat-caught and gives him a course of antibiotics (e.g. Baytril), as cat’s mouths are full of bacteria and he could quickly die of infection without antibiotics.

      Is the vet a wildlife rehabilitator who will take the bird himself, or will he treat the bird but leave him in your care? If the latter, you’ll want to give him a more varied diet – let me know if that’s the case and I’ll reply with the appropriate diet.

      His chances of long-term survival aren’t bad, as long as he gets antibiotics and the right food until he is ready for independence (about 2 weeks from now, probably). He’ll learn to fly on his own as long as he has room to practice, and he’ll learn to find and identify food if he’s given appropriate food items to practice on (e.g. live mealworms). He would learn faster in the presence of a parent bird to demonstrate such things, but you can make up for that disadvantage by providing food for longer than the parent would.

      Good luck! Let me know if you need that diet info, and get him antibiotics ASAP.

  50. This week there were 3 blue jay fledglings in my backyard. Today I found 2 of them dead. No trauma. Should I remove the dead ones. I saw the adults come to it and nudge it but it didn’t move. What are the chances for the one fledgling that is left. Will the parents come back to feed it? I feel so bad about them.

    • The parents will certainly keep feeding the remaining fledgling. (It’s possible that just the father will keep feeding it, while the mother gets started on a second nesting attempt; but that would be fine for the fledgling.) However, it does seem ominous that both siblings were killed right in that area. Are there cats that hang out right there? (I know you said no trauma, but it can be hard to detect injuries in birds if you aren’t experienced in their anatomy.) Is there rat poison in the area, looking yummy? If the remaining fledgling can avoid whatever killed his siblings, he has good chances – but it’s hard to say what the likelihood of that is, without knowing what killed them.

      Moving the dead siblings is a good idea; they will attract scavengers that might attack the remaining fledgling.

      • thanks for the quick response. I really don’t know why they died since I saw them alive in the morning and two dead before evening . Saying a prayer for the one that is left.

  51. Thoroughly enjoyed your article! I had a baby that I have successfully raised to a fledgling Who is still taping for food as I expected it would. Do you have any helpful hints for me teaching it to find its own food when I eventually release it at adulthood?

    • This somewhat depends on the species of the bird, but assuming it’s a common songbird: start providing various food items for it to pick at. Important ones will be:
      1) live mealworms (available at pet stores)
      2) fruits (recommend grapes & berries cut in half) and veggies (leafy greens; broccoli crowns are GREAT)
      3) mixed birdseed

      Provide things from all three of these categories, and the more different types, the better. Continue feeding if he’s still gaping; you’ll find that he gets increasingly interested in self-feeding, and will reduce his gaping eventually. Don’t release him until he no longer gapes at all, and is fully capable of flight, including flying straight up from the ground.

      Note on mealworms: live insects are crucial, as he needs to practice finding, catching, and eating these. Mealworms are NOT worms (despite the name) and worms are not a good idea. Make sure you get mealworms.

      If he is a crow/raven/jay, woodpecker, shorebird, duck, or anything else not similar in size and habits to a robin, let me know and I’ll give modified diet instructions.

  52. Hi Katie,
    Michelle with the house finches here. Success! After two days of 40+ mph winds and the little finches flitting about my car port, the third day was nice and calm. I got to see the babies fly around and hop and land in the tree outside my front window. On day 4, I could see them flying about the property, and day 5 they are gone as far as I can tell. It was great joy watching them test their landing skills and hopping from limb to limb, and almost trying to go through the window-they figured it out. So the worry and effort paid off! Yea! My cats are now back outside. I haven’t seen the adult birds either. I guess they moved the whole family to the nearby hills! Thank you for all of your help and advice in the matter, I greatly appreciate it.

    My new bird issue is this: a fishing lake I take my dog to has a gravel trail, and low and behold, right on the side of the trail is a nest with 3 whitish eggs with brown speckles–the momma bird is small is like a finch, light grey in color. I almost stepped on it twice and she comes out all startled. I only found the eggs because my dog was sniffing at them and I looked real well and saw the eggs. The nest is only an indentation in the ground lined with grass or something. The diameter is no bigger than a fat coffee cup. It is right on the side of the trail where they will probably be stepped on, eggs or baby birdies.
    Can I gently move the eggs off the trail about 2 feet where they will not be stepped on??? Should I try to make a nest of sorts out of grasses, or better yet, can I take the house finch nest and put it off the trail and gently lay the eggs in it????? Will the momma bird ignore the eggs in a different nest? I could pick up the original nest grasses and lay it in the finch nest with the eggs in it. I am just sure they will be stepped on, if they have not been already, what a sad sad thing to behold. I go to this lake about 3 times a week. So what do you think….use the old house finch nest (Lord knows I don’t want them in my car port again), or just move the eggs by making a little scrape in the ground lined with new grass??? I don’t think she wants any structure above her nest, as her original is on flat land with only a bit of tall grass (not very much) around it. I feel the urge to put it in a cubby with a few branches sort of over it, but there probably is a reason (quick escape?) why it is so open. Oh, I wish I just did not care, but I do.
    Thanks again for your response, you beautiful bird woman you!
    Michelle

    • What great news about the house finches! That’s so wonderful.

      The new nest you’ve just found is a junco nest, the species I studied for my PhD. They have terrible taste in nesting sites. (I mean, it must actually work most of the time, but it always looks terrible to me.) The one you found is typical: very little in the way of nest structure or cover, and right next to/on a trail. They also like to nest right next to roads – they really like edges.

      I’d discourage you from doing anything to the nest, at least right now. If you move the nest, there’s a good chance the parents will abandon it. (The house finches already had peeping chicks, which attract parents; but parents don’t expect eggs to move, and the eggs don’t attract attention, so moving eggs is unlikely to work.)

      You say you go to this area frequently. If the eggs hatch, and if you still think there’s a high risk to them being where they are, then moving the nest might be something to consider, because then there would be chicks to attract the parents to their new location. You’d need to be careful – there IS a nest structure there: there is a cup of grasses worked into the ground, and that will be hard to move without damaging it. You’d need to dig you fingers in underneath it to pull out as much of the structure as possible (out of the ground, it will look something like a regular nest) and replace it in a new indentation in the ground.

      Let me know if the nest survives to hatching and you’re still considering moving it. You’d probably want to wait to move it until the chicks can make noise, which they don’t for the first few days. At first they look like pink alien jellybeans; you’d want to wait to move until you start seeing some grey feathers growing in. The youngest you would want to move them, I think, is when they look like the chicks in this post: https://toughlittlebirds.com/2015/07/29/a-predator-caught-in-the-act/

  53. Thanks again, Katie.
    I will wait for the nest move. I enjoyed your article about the Juncos. Your “voice” comes through clearly, and it puts a smile on my face. So, to be clear, I should NOT use the old house finch nest with the new found nest inside??? Of course, I will bring a garden digger and dig a little divet in the ground and place the Junco nest (with or without) the old finch nest, as per your advice. Poor little birdies…right on the side of the trail.
    Many years ago, when I first became interested in birds, I would feed the birds black oil sun flower seeds and watch the goldfinches gorge themselves. Then one day, I saw what I assumed to be a huge goldfinch and I said to myself, “Wow, I am feeding these birds too well, look at the size of that goldfinch! Come to find out, after looking at a bird book (before internet), it was an Evening Grosbeak! Ha! I lived at the foot of the Cascade Mountains then, and it was a bird heaven! There were tons and tons of Oregon Juncos. Another bird would sing at night the loveliest song (nightingale I presume). I live in Central Washington state now, and I don’t see many huge evening grosbeaks, or gold finches… or Oregon Juncos. I hear we have bluebirds up in the hills a bit, but I guess they are elusive so I haven’t tried looking…there are none down in the valley here.
    Well Katie, please clarify the point of my using the old house finch nest to put the newfound nest in, or NOT. I will keep you posted on their welfare.
    Michelle

    • Don’t use the old house finch nest. There isn’t really a benefit to doing so (I know the junco nest looks inadequate, but it works for them) and there is some risk of passing on mites or parasites that the finches might have had to the junco chicks.

      I love your story about the “giant” goldfinch! Evening Grosbeaks are stunning. Your night-singing bird wasn’t a nightingale, as they are only in Europe, Asia, and Africa. My guess would be a Black-headed Grosbeak; scroll halfway down this post https://toughlittlebirds.com/2014/05/24/this-is-what-evening-in-the-field-sounds-like/ to find a recording of their song, and see if you recognize it.

      Mountains certainly have incredible bird diversity. I’d expect there to be some interesting birds where you are now, too, though – perhaps just harder to see? Here are some species that USDA is concerned about conserving in central Washington: burrowing owl, loggerhead shrike, sage grouse, sage thrasher, grasshopper sparrow. If you head up the hills where the bluebirds are, you might also see pileated, black-backed, or Lewis’ woodpeckers.

  54. Hi there,

    Please I need your help. I live on the 15th floor and noticed a dove sitting in a flower pot (in my balcony) all the time. Realized it was laying eggs and yes soon I saw two. Only one baby bird hatched on June 7th or 8th. I have been watching it grow in leaps and bounds and fallen in love with it. It has hopped out of the flower pot and loves moving around and started flying pretty well too. I noticed the father feeding it yesterday.

    Unfortunately today my son was a bit too near for comfort and it flew out of the balcony. We are devastated. It flew very well indeed , so that is ok. But it cannot feed itself yet I assume because I saw the father feeding it yesterday. My questions. (a) Will it be able to feed itself?. (b) Will the parents be able to find it (they were in the balcony this morning looking for it) (c) Will it ever come back to its nest?

    I am seriously totally depressed and have spent the entire morning searching for it on the ground levels or just looking out into the balcony hoping it will fly back:((((((

    Please help me.

    Asra

    • Hi Asra,
      Assuming your dove is a mourning dove, it actually left its nest more or less on time. Mourning doves usually leave the nest at 13-15 days old, but can leave as early as day 10 if frightened; your dove was 12 days old. It won’t be able to feed itself yet – the father will need to keep feeding it for about another 12 days.
      The only part of your story that concerns me is that you saw the parents searching for it. I’d expect them to have no problem finding it – it should be on the ground, in a nearby tree, or even back on the balcony (the chicks will sometimes come back for a few days), and the father should still be feeding it. The mother won’t feed it; she’ll be gearing up to lay more eggs.
      If you happen to find it and think that the parents haven’t found it, I’d suggest bringing it back to the balcony. But if you don’t find it, I still think there’s a strong chance that it will be fine – the father just needs to find it, and they are built for that. They expect the chick to be leaving around this time. Don’t panic if the chick doesn’t come back to the balcony; they don’t always do that.
      If the female dove lays more eggs on your balcony, just try not to get too close starting about 9 days after hatching, and then you’ll be certain that the chick(s) are leaving when they want to. But again, this chick left just about on time, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

  55. Hi, it’s Elena from the previous post about a crow.
    I’m sorry to bother you again.
    I released her yesterday, in my neighbourhood, se immediately flew and i was really surprised how well and how far she could fly. I left some food and stayed there with her. In a couple of minutes a couple of local crows came and they were surveillancing her from the top of one tree. Then one crow flew to the other tree and my crow and the remaining crow flew up at the same time, my crow was flying low, but really good considering it’s her first time flying outside(she flew almost 15 m in length), but the other crow flew on top of her and pushed her from above, and she fell in some bushes. She was fine, but she hid there for 30min, the bushes were really thick and I eventually went in and then she came out (I couldn’t catch her). She started exploring the surroundings, and I was there with her for a good hour and longer. Two more crows came (not sure if they were the same ones), but they did not seem to want to attack her. After those crows left, since I’ve been carrying the box and food and other stuff, I left for 1-2 min to go to the dumpster and get rid of all of that. When I came back my crow was gone, I looked everywhere, in all the bushes, anywhere on the ground that I could think of, but I could not find any trace of her. I started to look if I could spot her in any of the tree branches, but I could not see her. I repeated all of the search steps several times yesterday and I also went outside to see if I can find her today, but no trace. I’m kinda depressed now, don’t know whether I did a good thing releasing her. I HOPE SHE’S OK.

    • Hi Elena,
      You absolutely did a good thing. The fact that you couldn’t find her suggests to me that she went off with the other crows, which is good. If she was upset or scared, she would likely stay in the same place and hide.
      I wouldn’t worry about the “attack” from the other crow – crows are very social, and most social animals interact through physicality, pushing and jostling and so on. Where humans might meet someone new and say “What’s your name? What do you do? Where are you from? Do you like this TV show?”, the crows will go *see new crow* *SHOVE* and it’s pretty much the same thing.
      If she didn’t want to be released, she would have stayed near you. Crows are absolutely smart enough to tell the difference between staying with you and leaving you. Her flying, exploring, and connecting with the other crows are all very good signs, and she will be so much happier out in the wide interesting world with her fellow birds than she could have been staying in your apartment. I know it’s hard not to be worried, but she’s probably having the most exciting days of her life right now – all this new stuff! All these birds to watch and caw to and shove! All this space to fly!

      • Thank you for this reply, it really helps, and thank you for all the help. I will continue to check if I can spot her, because I know what she looks like, and I could, for the time being, tell her apart from other crows. Later , when she grows up even more, I probably won’t be able to, but if she is ok, then I’m ok too.

      • Hi, I feel like I’m exploiting your good nature, but still I have to ask.
        Today I think I saw my crow. It’s been a week since I released her. I saw a crow that resembled her in a tree underneath the path I was on. The other craws here have pointy tails and have a little bit of a different way of jumping, taking of, movement in general then my craw. She resembles more in looks to the crows on the site where I found her, with tail spread out more like a fan, and little bit different markings. (They are all gray craws but tiny differences like that distinguish between I guess families). Any way, craws here when I look at them fly away, and even if they don’t, they most certainly don’t look at me back and try to talk to me. But this one did, and she looked and sounded like my craw. I wasn’t convinced at first, but when she started doing something she was doing while in my home, I started to think it might be her after all. So that brings me to my question. After initial 2 weeks of her normal vocalization and the one that I generally hear from craw, she started to do the following, to extend her neck, and bend it downwards as if she was choking (at first I thought she was and I got really scared), and then she started to make rumbling sounds almost like trying to talk to me differently than she would with another craw. Well this is what this craw on the tree was doing, she was trying to talk to me in such a manner. I started to talk back at her (like ga ga ga), and she was listening to me just like my crow did while I took care of her (not to mention that people walking by were having a field day by laughing at me). After 10 minutes I started to walk off and she flew after me, above my head and onto a building I was approaching.
        So my question is, is this behaviour (especially neck breaking rumble noise she made) something usual for crows, or could it be that it might actually be my crow I saw.
        I apologize again, but I don’t know anyone else who might know this.
        Thank you

        • It’s hard to say for sure – you’d need someone who was a specific expert on exactly your species of crow to really know. (I *might* be able to answer a question like this on juncos…) The vocalization you describe sounds like a natural vocalization, but perhaps one that is only used in very specific circumstances – maybe the equivalent of “Hi, close buddy!”
          I certainly think it’s possible that you saw your crow. I have no doubt that you could recognize her after raising her for so long, and she would also still recognize you. (Crows are known to be able to recognize individual humans by their faces. When crow researchers need to do something the crows may not like, like temporarily removing crow chicks from the nest to weigh them, they will often wear masks so that the crows can’t learn their identities and hate them forever after.) If she looked to you like your crow, and behaved differently from all the other crows toward you, it seems very likely that she is your crow.
          Which is awesome! She’s doing well! I hope you continue to see her around.

  56. Our baby robins were scared from the nest by furniture deliverers. They can fly, but the mother bird keeps coming back to the empty nest. Do you think they’ll survive?

    • Yes, I think they will be okay. Many chicks leave the nest even before they can fly – being able to perch and run are the crucial skills – so if they can fly, they’re in good shape. The parents will find them by their cheeping; they may not be making noise when people are around, so as to not be eaten by your scary furniture deliverers :-) but when they get hungry and the coast is clear, they will call to the parents. This is normal – young birds often have to leave the nest because a predator has gotten too close, and they are evolved to deal with this situation.

  57. hello mate very interesting article we have a fledgling here it was away from it’s parents (abandoned maybe?) and was just flumping around on the ground unable to do much. we’ve taken it in to help it rehabilitate as the parents were clearly nowhere around. it looks like the ones in your pictures, full “youth” feathers (not sure of the correct terminology) with the eyebrows but we’re finding it hard to get it to eat anything. he will pick at mealworms but just drops them and we’ve tried dogfood (canned) and the rehydrated kibble mashed up recipes from elsewhere, too, but to no avail. would you be able to suggest how to get it to take food and what we could feed ?

    • Hi George, sorry for the delayed response – this comment flew under my radar somehow. Do you have any wildlife rescues nearby? Taking the bird there would be the best option, as they are very experienced with these situations, and can also treat the bird if it has any underlying injuries.
      Are you putting the food out for the bird, or feeding it yourself? Picking at food and dropping it sounds like a fledgling who isn’t ready to feed himself yet. You’ll want to pretend to be a parent bird and feed it with tweezers (for the mealworms) and a syringe (for the soaked kibble mix). He should open his beak and beg from you; if he doesn’t, try holding the syringe/tweezers at different angles, moving them in small circles, or just holding them still for a long time. Some bird species beg readily, while others take a lot of persuading.

  58. My husband had to bring his diskbine home to prepare for haying. When he was going to leave, he realized there was a nest inside. He managed to get two birds out, which were fledglings, and were able to fly a bit. When he got home, we were dismayed to find out there were two more fledglings in the shaft. We managed to get them out. One can fly a bit, the other can’t. Having cared for birds before, I fed them as they had beef close to 24 hours without food. If I bring them back to the site the piece of machinery was, what do you think the chances are that the mother will still be around and will care for them?

    • Hi Anna,
      Sorry I didn’t see this sooner! Generally speaking, bringing the chicks back to the area should work fine. However, if they are swallows (as you mention in your other comment – sorry for the duplicate posting; I had to put up manual moderation, because I was getting TONS of comment spam) you would need to create a new nest for them, because swallows are one of the few birds that don’t leave the nest until they can fly really well. So if your fledglings can’t fly very well, but AREN’T swallows, they should be fine; if they are swallows, they’ll need a box placed high up near where they were found.

      Anyway, I fear this advice is too late – what happened? Do you still have them?

  59. I found this finch just gripping onto our chair outside and it’s fledging I don’t know what to do with it can I have some help

  60. Hello,
    Thank you so much about your easy explanation about baby birds:)
    I hope you can help me to understand very imortant thing…
    I was raising a baby sparrow,he was around 5 days when i found him.
    I was thinking to release him around day 25…
    But he was very active and fly so high in my room,rest of the time he was in the cage because i d t want him to hurt himself.
    When he flyed first time he did that very good and fly up to the chandelier and meny times around the room:)

    Last 4 days i put him on the balcony in the cage,i teach him how to eat seeds,drink water,bring from the outside meny flowers,tree pieces and other stuff what they eat.
    He was smart and eat them,only problem was his beak was little bit to small….

    And then yeaterday i give him freedom to fly around balcony and i had little bit open window and he fly out:(
    I called him 3 ours and seeing him flying around trees,he seems so happy.
    I was crying alot and felt gilty because think is my foult…
    But then again he want to get out because d t come back to me when i called him.

    How you think he will be ok? I know that in this area is others sparrows too.
    He was 19 or 20 days.
    I saw meny videos about raising baby sparrows,but mine seems very active and developed.
    I think because i gave him much proteins,i made for him cat food with 45% protein mixed with dry mealworms and water,like baby food.
    And when he chirp for me to give him food from my finger i just stop it and he learn eat it himself,i put in small spoon and hang it up in the cage….

    I will be very thankful if you write me your opinion:)
    I believe if God gave him to me so small to raise him,he will survive…

    Thank you,
    Gaida,
    Oslo

    p.s. There is meny sparrows in this area.. Not excatly that trees he was but very close.

    • Hi Gaida,
      At that age, the birds do get very eager to fly and explore. If he was able to eat on his own and fly well (which it sounds like he was) then I think he has a good chance of survival. It wouldn’t hurt to put some food out for him on your balcony, just in case he has trouble figuring out how to find food: that will be his biggest challenge in the next few days. It sounds like you did a great job raising him – you should be proud!

      • Thank you.
        I did put food on the balcony,but he d t came becaus i think he d t realise where he flyed from…. I live in block house,they all look same.
        But i believe too he is ok and met his family birds!

        Sincerely,
        Gaida

  61. I’m interested to know why the photo shows a person holding a baby. They should not be held unless its the only way to rescue an injured bird.

    • I’m a field ornithologist, and those photos are from my field research on the birds’ breeding behavior. The young birds were measured and banded for identification, then replaced safely. I was well trained for this and had all required permits.

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