by Khadijah Rahim
It’s spring! That means flowers blooming, sun shining, and spring creatures making their apparences again! But despite the beauty of spring, some of the most vulnerable creatures face extreme hardships during this time! This spring, learn about baby birds, and how to aid their transition.
Many baby birds voluntarily leave their nest before they can fly. They flutter on the ground as they go through the “fledgling” stage and practice short hops and flights in bushes and low tree branches. Their parents feed them when they cry from their ground location. They are commonly seen in bushes, on branches or hopping around in the open.
Sometimes, passing humans find these babies and mistake them for abandoned chicks. They will usually not see the parents, or be able to identify them as the baby’s parents, but the parents live in that space. They have bred there, made their nest, laid, and incubated eggs and reared young. It is their home. It is also likely that the parents were born in the place themselves! Most animals tend to live or return to a nest space near where they themselves were born! In short, the parents do not leave. Both bird parents generally feed the babies and care for them in these early stages.
80%-90% of “orphan” baby birds are actually accidental kidnappings where one or both parents are feeding the young ones and are perching nearby, or they are out looking for more bugs! These kidnapped babies can be easily distinguished from birds in real trouble. Here are some ways to recognize when a baby is healthy and does NOT need to be rescued:
- There are no signs of injury – no blood, broken wings, injured legs, etc.
- They are alert and vocal – singing or crying out (to their parents) for food
- They are covered in feathers – these are called fledglings! They have left their nest and will hop around and fly for short distances at low heights.
There are some cases when a baby bird should be rescued and transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center or rehabber. These can be when there are:
- Obvious signs of injury – a wing dragging
- The baby has blood or wounds – especially in areas like wings
- Eyes and nostrils have discharge
Prepare a small box or paper bag with holes for air. Gently place a soft towel over the entire body of the sick or injured bird and gently place it into the box or bag. Keep rescued birds warm, dark and quiet as you are locating a licensed wildlife rehabber. Find a local wildlife rehabilitation center or rehabbers in your area here: https://secure.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/WildlifeRehabilitatorsbyState.pdf
Though we should aid in times of need, recognize that baby birds are in their learning phase and not everything is an emergency. Their parents will be nearby to lend a helping wing. Remember, these are the most vulnerable times for a baby bird. Observe safely and respect nature!