Have you found a baby bird? Here’s what to do!
At some point or another, near everyone who spends time outdoors finds a baby bird, unable to fly very well and apparently lost or abandoned by its parents.
Our impulse is to do something for this apparently helpless creature. But in many cases, the young bird doesn’t need our help at all, and, in fact may be doing more harm than good.
If the baby bird is FULLY FEATHERED
It is okay for the bird to be on the ground. Stay as far back as possible while still being able to observe the baby. Watch for parents for 2-4 hours – keep your eyes peeled because they can come quite quickly!
Obviously, if it is on a road, a drain or in a backyard where there is a resident dog or cat sometimes intervening is the only option. If there is no immediate danger the please do not intervene.
Please don’t give baby birds any food or water – their parents will feed them when they return.
Species such as magpies will intentionally leave their young, often left in low branches to encourage them to come to the ground. This is vital in teaching their babies to find food and fend for themselves. Members of the public sometimes confuse this act of nature with baby birds being deserted or in distress. Many people think they are doing the right thing by performing a rescue and bringing the baby birds into us. In reality, if left with their parents, a majority of these will actually end up being juveniles that are learning to fly under the supervision of their parents.
If the baby is MOSTLY PINK or NOT FULLY FEATHERED
The baby bird must be placed back into the nest. Check in trees and shrubs, on the ground and in the eaves of nearby buildings. Do not worry about human scent on the baby. If you cannot locate the nest, you can make one out of a plastic container with drainage holes in the bottom and placing leaves and grass in the bottom of the container. Secure a stick in the container for the parents and young to use to get in and out.
Secure the nest under shelter as near to where you found the baby as possible. Watch for parents for 2 hours. If an entire nest has fallen, you can tie the whole nest back up or build them a surrogate nest.
If there is no sign of parents after the waiting period, or if the baby is obviously injured or has had contact with a cat or dog, call our 24/7 Wildlife Emergency Hotline on 0412 433 727, or take it to your local vet clinic. The first 24 hours are critical to the animal’s survival.
It helps if you take note of where the young bird came from as wildlife carers try to take every opportunity to return lost babies to their parents.