What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird? (9 Do’s and Don’ts)

Imagine finding a tiny baby bird all alone. It’s a moment when we feel the urge to help.

If you find a baby bird, do not touch it unless it is injured. Observe it from a distance to see if it truly needs help. Place it in a safe, warm place and contact a wildlife rehabilitator.

We talk about the different situations where you might come across a baby bird. Sometimes, it’s not what it seems!

But we’re not just here to talk. We want to share the knowledge you need to take care of these little birds when you find them. So, let’s explore together and learn what to do.

Learn how to take the right steps, when to seek professional help.

Common Situations in Which People Find Baby Birds

There are many common situations in which people find baby birds. Here are a few examples:

  • A baby bird falls out of its nest. This can happen if the nest is destroyed or if the baby bird is too young to fly.
  • A baby bird is found on the ground. This can happen if the baby bird is lost or if it has been abandoned.
  • A baby bird is found injured. 
Things you should do if you find a baby bird
Photo by bennett tobias on Unsplash

Why it is important to help baby birds

Baby birds are vulnerable and need our help to survive. Here are some reasons I found:

  • Baby birds are not able to fly and cannot even find food on their own. They rely on their parents for food and protection.
  • Baby birds can be orphaned if their parents are killed
  • They can also be injured by predators or by accidents.
  • Birds play an important role in the ecosystem by eating insects and pollinating plants. 

Things you should do if you find a baby bird

  1. If you see baby birds that look hurt or in danger, call a wildlife expert.
  2. If you find baby birds with few feathers that fell from their nest but seem okay, try to put them back in the nest if it’s safe.
  3. If the nest is gone or too high, hang a small basket nearby.
  4. Baby birds with few feathers should go back to their original nest to stay warm. If you can’t do that, call a wildlife expert.
  5. Young birds that leave the nest might stay on the ground for a bit. Their parents will feed them. Watch them, but don’t touch them.
  6. If you’re sure the parents aren’t coming back, contact a wildlife expert.

Things you should not do if you find a baby bird

  1. Do not touch the baby bird if it is not injured. Touching the baby bird can make its parents abandon it.
  2. Do not put the baby bird back in its nest if it has fallen out. The parents may have abandoned the nest if it has been disturbed.
  3. Do not feed or give water to the baby bird unless you are a wildlife rehabilitator. Feeding the wrong food to the baby bird can make it sick.
How to identify baby birds
Photo by 42 North on Unsplash

How to identify baby birds

Feathers: Baby birds are typically born with little to no feathers. The amount of feathering can help you determine the age of the bird. 

Nestlings are born with no feathers, while fledglings have more feathers and are able to fly short distances.

Size: Baby birds are much smaller than adult birds. The size of the bird can help you narrow down the possible species.

Color: The color of the bird can also be a clue to its identity. However, it is important to note that baby birds often have different colors than adult birds.

Behavior: If the bird is chirping and begging for food, it is likely a nestling. If the bird is hopping around and exploring, it is likely a fledgling.

Baby birds can identify their nests and nesting locations by listening to the sounds of their parents and their siblings. Some interesting ways baby birds can go back to its parents. 

  • Smell: Baby birds can smell the scent of their parents and their nest. This helps them to find their way back to the nest after they have been out exploring.
  • Sight: Baby birds can see the location of their nest. This is especially important for fledglings, which are able to fly short distances but are not yet strong enough to fly long distances.
  • Touch: Baby birds can feel the texture of the nest material. This helps them to identify their nest even if they cannot see it.

Signs of distress or injury in baby birds

Feathers: If the baby bird’s feathers are ruffled or missing, it may be injured or sick.

Behavior: If the baby bird is not moving or is not responding to its surroundings, it may be injured or sick.

Sounds: If the baby bird is making unusual sounds, it may be injured or sick.

Location: If the baby bird is found in a strange location, it may be injured or lost.

How to care for a baby bird

How to care for a baby bird

The bird should be kept in a warm, dark place where it will not be disturbed. A cardboard box lined with soft towels is a good option.

Keep cats and dogs away from baby birds.

Baby birds cannot regulate their own body temperature, so it is important to keep them warm. You can use a heating pad or hot water bottle to keep the bird warm.

Feed the baby bird the right food. For most baby birds, you can feed them a mixture of mashed insects, fruit, and vegetables. You can also buy special food for baby birds at pet stores.

It is important to feed the bird small amounts of food frequently. Overfeeding the bird can make it sick.

Baby birds need to be kept clean to prevent infection. You can clean the bird with a damp cloth.

How to find a wildlife rehabilitator

There are a few ways to find a wildlife rehabilitator in the USA.

  • Contact your local animal control agency or humane society. They may be able to provide you with a list of licensed rehabilitators in your area.
  • Search online. There are a number of websites that list wildlife rehabilitators, such as the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) website and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) website.
  • Call your state wildlife agency. They may be able to provide you with a list of licensed rehabilitators in your state.
  • Look for a rehabilitator who is experienced in caring for the type of animal you have found.
  • Make sure the rehabilitator is licensed by the state.
  • Visit the rehabilitator’s facility before you bring the animal in. This will give you a chance to see how they care for the animals and to ask any questions you have.

I found a resource for finding a wildlife rehabilitator easily. 


Should you pick up a baby bird?

No, you should not pick up a baby bird unless it is injured or in immediate danger. Touching a baby bird can make its parents abandon it.

Can you save a baby bird?

Yes, it is possible to save a baby bird, but it is important to seek professional assistance.

How do I know if a baby bird is injured?

If a baby bird is injured, it may have broken bones, bleeding, or other visible injuries. It may also be limping, unable to fly, or not moving.

Final Takeaways

When you find a baby bird, remember to keep it safe from dangers. Watch it from a distance and call wildlife experts for help as soon as possible. 

We also want to hear your stories. If you’ve helped a baby bird or faced challenges, share your experiences. Your stories can inspire others to do good things for birds.

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