Home » Lifestyle » Baby Bird How To Help And When Not To Read Before You Intervene

Any lover of nature and animals feels an urgency when they see an abandoned baby bird. You may be inclined to take immediate action to save it. Before doing so, however, take a moment to investigate. This article will give you the basic needed knowledge on how to help a baby bird, and when not to.

A baby bird found alone is not always abandoned.

This is what happened to my mother and me just the other day as we were walking the dogs.

My mother and I both have a tremendous soft spot for animals of all kinds.

I adore birds and am blessed to have a lot of different birds in my area.

Sometimes I have to accept what harsh Kansas storms can do to birds.

Just last week I had to bury a beautiful Golden Finch.

Today, literally as I am writing this I had to bury a crow.

Winters can be even harsher.

Last winter I wrote Protect Wild Birds In Winter if you wish to check that out.

When You Come Across A Baby Bird Stop:

The first thing you want to do is determine if the bird is even a baby, or if it is a fledgling.

Baby Bird and fledgling

Nestlings (left) are mostly featherless and helpless birds that should be returned to their nests, if possible. Fledglings (right) are mobile and well-feathered. Their parents are likely nearby and they rarely need help. Images via Birdshare: Anne Elliot (left); Central Jersey Wildlife (right). Images Taken From www.allaboutbirds.org

The above images are from a site that I use as a trusted resource when it comes to birds in the wild.

In fact, you can go to that site and find out all you need to know when it comes to saving a baby bird.

Or you can continue to read here as I will tell you my story, and what we did by following All About Birds guidelines in their article.

How To Help A Baby Bird And When Not To:

Baby Bird How To Help And When Not To Read Before You Intervene Pinterest Sharing Image

One myth I want to dispell right away is that you can’t touch a young bird.

You can touch a young bird if necessary.

The parents will still take it back into the nest.

It’s that time of year and little birds are learning to take flight.

They are beginning to learn how to take care of themselves.

Just like humans, there is a process to this.

In my opinion, it is always best to leave things to nature and let it take its course.

Sometimes, however, a bird may, in fact, be injured or abandoned.

So how do you know how to help a baby bird and when not to?

Baby Bird Fledgling

Photo From Central Jersey Wildlife. Image Taken From www.allaboutbirds.org

The bird my mother and I found was a Fledgling.

I did not get my own photos that day as I did not even think about it.

I was too concerned about taking care of the bird.

It was easy to identify that the baby bird was a fledgling as it was able to move a bit on the rocky path.

The bird also was fully feathered and had the short tail as described by All About Birds.

Fledglings are far more capable of being on their own.

In fact, they are learning to be on their own.

In most cases, they should be left alone.

If we had found a baby bird, featherless, unable to move, and helpless we would have taken a different course of action entirely.

That action being saving the bird and getting more involved in finding his nest.

The potential of having to take it to a wildlife rescue also increases.

Since I am writing on my experience with the Fledgeling please read here if you have found a nestling.

Because It Was So Hot Outside:

It was over one hundred degrees outside and I did worry about it needing water.

So I did give it a bit of water by putting small drops into its mouth.

This baby bird opened his beak wide for the water.

I made sure that he swallowed and could see his little neck muscles working to do so.

Before giving more water I made sure he had none left in his mouth or throat which was easy to see.

It is possible to drown a fledgling so be careful if you give it water.

At the same time, I did not want to give him too much water.

According to Animals, Mom, Me fledglings do not usually need water as they get it from their food.

However, due to the extreme temperature and the fact that the bird was opening his beak eagerly, it was possible he had not eaten in a while.

How To Help A Baby Bird And When Not To The Process:

Once I determined the bird was a fledgling the first step was making sure I should do anything at all.

The second step was making sure the bird was comfortable.

This next part is difficult because we had no idea how long he had been on that rocky path on his own.

People do walk their dogs in this area and it was possible the bird could get attacked.

Even a kind, but curious dog could injure it.

Yet, nature is nature.

I never want to impede upon the process of it.

Then we looked around for the nest.

Not able to locate it in the densely wooded area on either side of the path, we had to make a hard call.

We left the bird alone.

Besides, returning a bird to the nest at this stage of his life is not the best idea as it will generally hop right back out.

We decided we would return the next morning to check on the status of the bird.

Having been armed with great information from All About Birds I felt secure in this decision.

I said my goodbye to the baby bird, for the time being, said a little prayer, and reluctantly left.

The Baby Bird, The Following Day:

Baby Bird How To Help And When Not To Read Before You Intervene Me looking for the baby bird

The next day I eagerly returned with my cohort, my mother to the path.

I was praying not to find the little bird.

Also, I prayed that I did not find a baby bird carcass or any noticeable signs of him being attacked or injured.

I took along more water, a box with dried leaves from my yard, and some high protein dog bones that had been soaked in water and mushed up.

There are better food alternatives for fledgling birds but this is what I had available.

I also took rubber gloves as I was prepared to handle the baby bird.

Note: Always wash your hands well before and after handling any wildlife. You could get H5N1, or bird flu, the bird can also get germs and bacteria from you! 

Walking the path in anticipation and a bit of dread, we found absolutely no sign of the baby bird!

No sign of stray feathers, blood, or anything that would indicate the bird was harmed after we left.

We both let out a huge sigh of relief.

Since the bird was somewhat mobile we searched very carefully in the brush and wooded area surrounding the path on both sides.

We searched for quite awhile because we could not be 100% sure where he was on the path.

When we came to a fork in the path we knew we had not walked that far the day before.

While we did not find a baby bird, we did find something else!

Baby Bird How To Help And When Not To Read Before You Intervene Turtle In The Woods

We found a new turtle friend alongside the path in the woods, just off of the rocks.

I felt it was nature’s way of telling me we made the right call leaving the bird alone.

Nature is amazing and has its own way of working itself out.

We also did not touch the turtle but appreciated him from a distance.

So many of us, people like my mother and myself, are eager to help out when an animal seems in need.

Yet, an intervention can often do more harm than good.

We also have the phone number of our local wildlife rescue on our phones.

Not a bad idea when you live in a rural or country area but even city folk may come across an animal in need.

I encourage you all to find the number for your local rescue and put it in your phones too.

If you find a baby bird please consider my article and check out the articles linked in this post for more information.

Also, if you want more information on birds please check out my article about the Sibley Guide To Birds.

The Conclusion Of Our Experience WIth The Baby Bird:

I honestly can’t be certain that our baby bird made it to where he needed to be.

We have no idea if his parents did come back to help him out.

What I do know is that there was no evidence that any harm had come to him.

I also feel confident based on the great information I discovered that we did the right thing.

I would love to hear from you in comments.

Have you ever found an abandoned or injured bird or other wildlife?

Have you ever saved an animal or reported one to wildlife rescue?

What would you have done if you came across this bird in this situation?

Do you think we made the right call in leaving him and coming back to check on him the next day?

Please feel free to share this article using the sharing icons below the post.

Thank you! 

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22 Comments

  1. June 19, 2018 / 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s so hard to just leave a baby bird… but I know that’s the right thing to do some of the time. We have some big snakes, hawks, and other predators, so that worries me.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:04 am

      I know Mary the predators worry me to no end too! Living in an area that has an abundance of them makes it so hard to walk away from a bird like this. Even though I tell myself I have to let nature take its course. I totally feel your issues with this!!

  2. June 19, 2018 / 4:15 pm

    This post comes at just the right time for me! We have a nesting momma bird in the roof of our covered patio area. Last year, Matthew was walking Bernie in our old neighborhood and Bernie alerted him to something. Bernie had jumped back and looked to Matthew for direction. It was a baby owl with feathers capable of moving, so Matthew left him where he was. When he checked the next day, the owl was gone with no sign of distress, so we hope the little guy made it. Since this nesting momma is right outside our front door, though, I am nervous for her babies. Once I hear little birdie cries, I think I’ll hang a sign on the inside of the door reminding me to check the patio before I go out with the dogs. If any of the birdies fall out of her nest too early or when they’re learning to fly, I want to give them plenty of space.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:12 am

      Oh how special to have an owl baby nearby! I am so glad that your Bernie was such a sweetie to jump back!
      The sign is a great idea because we are creatures of habit and I could easily see myself forgetting and just casually walking out the door.
      I worry because I have floor to ceiling windows in two rooms of my home.
      There have been times birds fly right into them.
      I need to find a way to make the windows more obvious or something!
      I mean it’s not like I keep them really clean and clear but sometimes the birds still do this which is sad.
      Truly hope your nesting mama and birds do well this season!
      I am so glad you liked this article too!

  3. June 19, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    This is such a great post, it can be hard to know when you should help and when you should just leave them. I’ve taken a few birds into local wildlife centres, but always tried to converse with them first on what the best cause of action is.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:13 am

      Thank you for doing that Sarah and for checking on the best option at the time! People who love animals, domesticated or wild are the best!

  4. June 19, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    Great post!! I rescued a Fledgling this year. She was sitting in the middle of a busy road. I inspected her and she wasn’t hurt. I used gloves as to not get my scent on her and carefully moved her to the side of the road and into some long grass for coverage. She was gone the next day! I hope she went home to mama

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:14 am

      I am sure she did Jennifer and you totally did the right thing!
      The gloves are more for our protection from disease and even to keep the bird from getting a disease from us, which they can.
      You are awesome for doing what you did!!!
      Thank you for that!

  5. June 19, 2018 / 6:40 pm

    I wish I had read this sooner. I made the mistake of helping when I probably should have left things alone. The poor birdy didn’t make it. So sad.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:15 am

      Esther don’t feel bad. I too have made the wrong choice in the past.
      It’s such a hard call sometimes even with this information there are times I am not sure what to do!
      Sure, we can logically know it’s best to let nature take its course but it does not feel good to us doing so.
      The more info the better though and we can try to improve.
      You love animals – nothing wrong with that at all!

  6. June 19, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Great explanation that should be read by all who love nature but who are unfamiliar with the “rules.” Great post for kids who are interested in wildlife.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:16 am

      Oh thank you so much Terri! You are right, this is a great way for kids to learn as well.
      The websites I linked to in my article can also be used for education as those sites are excellent resources!

  7. June 19, 2018 / 10:32 pm

    Awe this just happened to me about a week ago. I wasn’t sure what to do. I’m pretty scared to touch animals. I tried to can animal control but they weren’t open yet in my city. So this helped me a lot as to what I should do should I’m face with this next time.

    • June 22, 2018 / 9:53 am

      Yolanda, thank you for trying to help. That is such a wonderful thing for you to do. It may be best that you didn’t touch it. I understand that fear! As much as I adore animals sometimes touching a wild animal can be a bit overwhelming. They are wild animals after all.

  8. June 20, 2018 / 10:21 am

    This is a real eye opener for baby birds, who would possibly think to leave a baby bird alone, especially if it’s hurt? Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for the bird and not think with your heart. This has taught me a lot and I’ll be passing the info along to my kids!

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:17 am

      Thank you so much Lynsey.
      It is SO hard to walk away even if the bird seems healthy!
      I really appreciate that you are sharing it with your kids and raising them to be aware of how to handle wildlife!
      THANK YOU!

  9. Cat
    June 20, 2018 / 12:28 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write up this resource and dispelling the myth about how it is not okay to touch baby birds. I am going to pin this in case we find any new baby birds next spring who may need our help, so we will know what to do!

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:18 am

      Cat that is so sweet of you to say and I am thrilled that you are bookmarking for later reference if needed!

  10. June 20, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Great tips! I personally know nothing about birds but I have a real ding bat of a neighbor who in a “crisis” comes running to me with animals in hand. He says because my Mom was such an animal healer I got the vibe…well, I know nothing so off to the Emergency vet hospital they go…birds and squirrels. I’m not trying to play mother nature. If I can’t find a nest immediately , that is the best I can do.

    • June 22, 2018 / 10:21 am

      Oh my! LOL you know I am an empath and yes animals too but I am not Radagast!
      It is sweet that you have a neighbor that cares so much but yes, he is probably doing more harm than good!
      Perhaps you can play into his thoughts of you “knowing all” and tell him next time NOT to bring it to you but take YOU to the animal!
      Then maybe you can tell him “It is best to leave this animal here” or something like that lol.
      I know all about wacky neighbors though – WHEW glad I moved from my last place.
      They were exhausting!
      Good luck with yours!

  11. June 21, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    Aw, this is such a great post. We’ve run into helpless birds and our first instinct was to help. That’s not always the case. Sometimes we forget how nature needs to run its course.

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