Amendment: if you rescued a baby bird and it hasn’t died yet

While my previous post, grumpy as it was, is true, I left out some important things. If you find yourself in the possession of a baby bird, the best thing you can do is to get it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. There are a few cases, however, where this may not be possible. Some rehabbers don’t accept invasive species (pigeons, Common Starlings, House Sparrows) or domestic species (e.g. domestic ducks). Some places don’t have a wildlife rehabber anywhere nearby (although do check—you might be surprised!).

If you’re in this situation, the internet is your friend. You can find recipes for nestling bird diets and instructions on care posted by people who care for those invasive species. Don’t just try to go with your gut: your intuition is mammal-based, and will mislead you. Search for reputable-seeming internet sources, and ideally find ones where you can contact the people to get detailed advice. There is a community of starling-keepers out there who may be able to help (especially if you’ve found a starling; unfortunately, bird species do differ in the care of their babies).

The most important thing is do not try to force-feed your bird water. Birds have an opening in their throat that leads to their lungs, and it is incredibly easy to drown them. Put the bird somewhere dark and warm and do your internet research before trying to do anything else with the bird.

Also, if you do an internet search on my name, you will find my email address. I am not a licensed rehabber and am definitely not the best person you could contact, but I’d certainly prefer to be asked how to keep the bird alive, rather than asked why it died.

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7 thoughts on “Amendment: if you rescued a baby bird and it hasn’t died yet

  1. NEED ADVISE BY SUNDAY AM-IMPORTANT

    Hi, we were cleaning out our koi pond today, about two hours in heard a bird chirping away, more like yelling really, but didn’t spot it! It began to rain then began to POUR, and we had to work through the heavy rain as our 20 large koi were in a temporary kiddie pool with small pump. The bird continued to be vocal the entire time, then… I spotted him… It was a fledgling right at the foot of the pond in a small ornamental cut leaf maple! Tiny, Rediculously adorable, I believe a sparrow. We have encountered a few fledgling dilemmas in the past so knew to leave it be. I kept checking on it, unfortunately the parents were not coming to feed- which was probably because we were in close proximity. I just finished reading some of your advise, I would have moved the baby if I knew better.
    Well this is where we are at, the rain continued to get worse, the fledgling was now on the ground under the bush, I had place an unbrella to help shelter it from the rain, but the fledgling began to tremble and lay on its side, definitely in distress. I lined a small box with paper towels and brought him inside, got him warm and dry and he has perked up. Standing, eyes open and alert. This was around 11:30 pm. Last I looked about 12:30, his head tucked into his back and comfortably asleep. Thank God! Tomorrow is my concern- I know it’s best to put him back where I found him, but were expecting another stormy,rainy day!!! What should I do?
    Please advise..help.
    Thanks in advance,
    Sophia

    • Hi Sophia,
      Is there a place in your yard where the fledgling could be sheltered from the rain? You really want to get him back out so his parents know he’s still alive and can feed him. (I’ve seen parents feed fledglings in rain; unless it’s a bad downpour, the rain shouldn’t stop them.) But you also don’t want him soaked and cold, as you noticed yesterday! If there isn’t a porch or similar thing you can put him under, could you make a small shelter for him?
      If you put him out and (watching from a distance) don’t see the parents come back for a long time (like, most of the day), you may need to intervene so he doesn’t starve. Comment again if that happens and I can advise.

  2. Hi,
    Thank you for responding… I feel confident now that we did the right thing! At 5:30 am the birds started their usual chirping, sleeping lightly with the fledgling on our minds, my husband and I decided that since it wasn’t raining we would put him back in the Japanese maple where we found him. We thought that perhaps the parents might not have realized he went on a little vacation :) we put the box on its side with him in it- and made an additional make shift covered area. Watched for about 30 min, went back to bed. Around 8:30am he was nowhere to be found, not too worried as our property is bird friendly and accommodating. Then it POURED as forecasted.. A few times. Got concerned, , as I was looking around, I heard the same yelling/chirping form a different area in our yard close to the patio as I was looking in this dense large flowering tree an adult sparrow flew down perched itself on a patio chair… Seriously gave me a look then flew into that flowering dence tree:) I believe that was one of parent birds taking care of our overnight boarder… That’s my story and sticking to it!!
    This a a great service you are providing, thank you very much,
    All the best, Sophia

    • Oh good, I’m so glad the birds figured out a solution! I hope the rain lets up soon so they have one less thing to worry about.
      Be a little careful checking up on the fledgling – if the parents think he isn’t safe, they’ll move him again. You’ll have to be sneaky :-)

      • Sneaky is my middle name..lol! I can see from my family room window, and happy to say there are two fledglings- look like little salt and pepper shakers-too cute 🐥🐥 parents coming every 10-15 min in between the crazy downfalls of rain🌈 It’s all good!
        All the best, Sophia

  3. Oh, btw, I will keep looking for him, if I find him and notice he isn’t being attended to, I’ll reach out to you for further advise…thanks, Sophia

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