HATCHLING -This means the baby has no feathers (is pink) or just has a small bit of down. The eyes are still closed. FIRST look for the nest. It is usually close to where you found the baby. If it is safe to do so, PUT THE BABY BACK! If no nest is found then proceed to getting the baby to warmth and safety. (See below, “keeping a baby bird warm”)
FLEDGLING – This baby is completely feathered. He is able to perch upright and can usually hop away from you. This baby is learning to FLY! Gently pick him up and place him in a tree close to where you found him and leave him alone. The parents may be out of sight but are near and watching. ALL baby birds must come to the ground to learn to fly; this is part of fledging. We get too many birds each year from well-meaning people thinking these birds need help. Interfering with a fledging baby bird is like kidnapping from the parents.
The only time a fledgling should be rescued are for these reasons: if it is weak, falling to one side and/or puffed out; has one wing drooping lower than the other; or can not perch or stand. A good rule of thumb is, IF YOU HAVE TO CHASE IT . . . DONT!
- KEEPING A BABY BIRD WARM: Cup the baby in your hands until you can get it to a heat source. Place the baby in a towel lined box. Place the entire box on a heating pad on medium setting and contact a licensed rehabilitator immediately.
Another option is to use a hot water bottle filled with warm water. Wrap it in a towel and place in the box with the baby.
- DO NOT put a baby in direct contact with a heat source. Always use towels, an old t-shirt or blanket, etc., as a buffer.
- DO NOT FEED, even if the baby is asking. CONTACT USor another rehabilitator right away.
OLD WIVES’ TALE: It is NOT TRUE that if you touch a baby bird its mother will reject it. Birds have little to no sense of smell and will not reject their young. If it is safe to do so, put the baby back in its nest!
NEVER offer water to a baby bird. Mother birds have no way to carry water to their young – this means they do not drink water while still being fed by their parents. Giving water can aspirate a baby bird.
NEVER buy store-bought baby bird formula for wild birds. This formula is made for pets and can make a wild bird very ill. (Regardless of what the store employees tell you).
This baby mockingbird was raised on a store bought formula and has suffered from metabolic bone disease.
Leave the feeding of baby birds to trained rehabilitators!
Valley Wildlife Care hand feeding a baby Nuttal’s woodpecker
DO NOTattempt to raise the baby on your own. Wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You must be a licensed facility to have a wild bird in your possession for more than 24 hours. As tempting as it may be, the majority of the birds cared for by well-meaning people for more than 24 hours usually die. This is a result of improper diet, temperature, aspiration, etc.
ALWAYS call a licensed rehabilitator as soon as you find a baby bird.
*Please note, we are unable to pick up animals from the public. We will spend the next several weeks to months caring for the animal that you have found, and hope that the public can do their part by getting the animal to one of our volunteers. We can direct you to the closest volunteer or organization possible. The only exception to this is skunks and/or dangerous species, in which case we will handle such species on a case by case basis.*
Valley Wildlife Care (818) 346-8247
Raptors and songbirds (no seabirds or pigeons)
Anna Reams (805) 581-3911
Wildlife Care of Ventura County
Crows and ravens
South Bay Wildlife (310) 378-9921 Raptors, songbirds and hummingbirds
nestling red-tailed hawk