can a baby bird survive on the ground

As the nesting seasons for most birds are spring and summer, now is the time for baby and juvenile birds to spread their wings a bit, so to speak. Finding a baby bird where it doesn’t belong—on the ground—can be very concerning as well as confusing. What should you do? Should you pick it up and try to help, or leave it where you found it? If you touch a baby bird, will its mother reject it? We’ve got all your answers right here.

When to help a baby bird or egg

Restoring a bird or egg to its nest can be beneficial at times.

Audubon states that a bird’s scent is not that distinct, dispelling the myth that a mother bird may reject a baby or egg because of the scent of the person who handled it.

A nestling, as opposed to a fledgling, is nearly always in need of assistance. Nestlings are newly hatched birds that may only have a few fluffs because their feathers have not yet grown in. They can only waddle from one wing to the other and cannot stand on their own. Since they can appear nude and alien-like, they can be easily identified.

Audubon suggests that if a baby bird of this kind falls out of its nest, it is best to put it back and the parent will take care of it again.

In the event that the nest cannot be found, Audubon advises making a nest out of a small strawberry container and inserting a straw or a piece of t-shirt inside.

Attach the nest high up in a tree close to where the baby bird was found after carefully putting it inside. Per the article, you should contact a wildlife rescue center if the baby bird is not found by its parents within an hour.

Sometimes someone may want to assist a fledgling that has been hurt. A cat dragging it in, it being unable to stand or hop correctly, or the presence of flies suggesting an open wound are warning signs to watch out for. If the feathers are damp but it’s not raining, the preening oil system may be afflicted by a disease. Or it might be dehydrated if the belly appears sunken in like a wrinkled, shriveled prune.

When not to help out a baby bird

Among the baby birds that get brought to the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort, about 80 percent of them have been kidnapped, according to an education director interviewed in an Audubon article.

When a baby bird leaves its nest, people may believe it is in danger, but it is actually okay and just going through a natural phase of learning to fly. When a fledgling finds itself on the ground, it happens frequently that its parents are watching from a distance, waiting for the human to disappear before offering assistance.

The Audubon Society advises leaving a fledgling alone if it isn’t obviously hurt or in danger from a predator. A fledgling is a bird with feathers and the ability to hop.

A fledgling raised by hand might mistake the human for its parent and not acquire the necessary survival and life skills to become a bird.

How to Help a Grounded Baby Bird

Look for a nest nearby when you spot a hatchling or nestling on the ground; one is probably only a few yards away. Then follow these steps:

  • Put on gloves (or wash your hands if you don’t have any).
  • Place the baby bird back into the nest after gently picking it up.

NOTE: You can put the bird in a woven basket from your neighborhood garden supply store and hang it from a low branch if the nest has been damaged or is too high to reach. For birds, a basket resembles a natural nest because of its weave, which lets rainwater pass through and keeps the young bird from drowning.

  • If the parent returns to the nest, keep an eye on it from a distance. If you are unable to stay, try returning later in the day to make sure. This could take a few hours.

If you are unable to locate the nest or the parent bird does not return to it:

  • With clean, gloved hands, transfer the bird to a container (e g. , a shoebox) lined with soft cloth. Paper towels, a baby blanket, a piece of clothing, etc. are all suitable options.
  • To keep the baby bird warm, if you have a heating pad, turn it down to the lowest setting and place it underneath the soft bedding. A hot water bottle also works well.
  • Put the bird’s box in a quiet, dark area away from people and animals.
  • Don’t give the bird food or water.
  • Make arrangements for additional care by contacting your neighborhood wildlife rehabilitation facility.


What to do if a baby bird is on the ground?

Baby birds: Nestlings and fledglings These birds are nestlings and aren’t ready to leave the nest yet. If you can locate the nest nearby, the best thing to do is simply place the nestling back in the nest. If you cannot locate the nest, leave the nestling where you found it or move it to a shaded area.

Can baby birds survive after falling out nest?

Such a bird will likely die if you don’t intervene. Try to locate the nest, probably in the tree just above the baby. If you can and it’s of easy access (don’t risk your own life trying to save a baby bird!), put the baby back in the nest.

How long can a fledgling survive on the ground?

Fledglings spend as long as 1–2 weeks on the ground as they learn to fly, so it’s perfectly normal to see them hopping around. It might look like a fledgling is in trouble, but they’re just learning! The best thing you can do is leave the healthy fledgling alone.

Can a baby bird survive if it can’t fly?

Most of the baby birds people find are fledglings. These are young birds that have just left the nest, and can’t fly yet, but are still under the care of their parents, and do not need our help. Fledglings are feathered and capable of hopping or flitting, with toes that can tightly grip your finger or a twig.