can you put birds back in their nest

At some point, nearly everyone who spends time outdoors finds a baby bird—one that is unable to fly well and seems lost or abandoned. Your first impulse may be to help the young bird, but in the great majority of cases the young bird doesn’t need help. In fact, intervening often makes the situation worse. Here’s how to determine whether to take action:

The first thing to do is to figure out if the baby bird is a nestling or a fledgling.

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. These youngsters are generally adorable and fluffy, with a tiny stub of a tail.

When fledglings leave their nest they rarely return, so even if you see the nest it’s not a good idea to put the bird back in—it will hop right back out. Usually there is no reason to intervene at all beyond putting the bird on a nearby perch out of harm’s way and keeping pets indoors. The parents may be attending to four or five young scattered in different directions, but they will return to care for the one you have found. You can watch from a distance to make sure the parents are returning to care for the fledgling.

If the baby bird is sparsely feathered and not capable of hopping, walking, flitting, or gripping tightly to your finger, it’s a nestling. If so, the nest is almost certainly nearby. If you can find the nest (it may be well hidden), put the bird back as quickly as possible. Don’t worry—parent birds do not recognize their young by smell. They will not abandon a baby if it has been touched by humans. If the nest has been destroyed you can make a new one, place the chick back inside and watch to see if the parents come back.

If you have found both parents dead, the young bird is injured, you can’t find the nest, or are absolutely certain that the bird was orphaned, then your best course of action is to bring it to a wildlife rehabilitator. You can find one by doing a Google search for your state and “wildlife rehabilitation.” The Humane Society of the United States also has a page to help you locate a wildlife rehabilitator in your state. A sick, injured or orphaned baby bird may need emergency care until you can get it to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Bottom line: remember that the vast majority of “abandoned” baby birds are perfectly healthy fledglings whose parents are nearby and watching out for them.

Is the bird a nestling or fledgling?

First, ascertain the age of the rogue baby, advises McMahon. And there’s one obvious sign: feathers. Nestlings are small and usually naked, or have a few fluffs on them, whereas fledglings are larger and nearly entirely covered in down and feathers. Stated differently, one appears like a gawky young bird, while the other resembles a tiny pink alien. Another way to tell the age of a bird is by its movement; fledglings can hop, but nestlings may just drag themselves along the ground on their bare wings.

If you come across a healthy fledgling, McMahon advises you to “walk away from the bird.” Not only is it unnecessary to rescue healthy fledglings, but it may also be harmful to their development. She claims that if babies are raised by hand, they may mistake people for their parents—much like the geese in the film Fly Away Home. According to McMahon, if that occurs, “they don’t know how to be a bird.”

If you’ve found a nestling: Help. First, search the surrounding bushes or trees for the baby’s nest; if you find it, just return the chick, and the parents will take up their care again. And don’t worry about touching the bird: Susan Elbin, director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon, says that it’s untrue to think that touching a baby bird will result in rejection. Elbin claims that although birds have a sense of smell, it is not very developed. “They’re not going to abandon their chick. ”.

Make your own nest if the one you’re looking for isn’t there or is too far away, advises Furr. Take a tiny container, such as a strawberry basket, and fill it with a straw or a piece of T-shirt—any dry material will do. After carefully putting the fledgling inside, attach the fake nest to a tree near the location where the bird was discovered. Furr states, “You want to get it as high up as possible.”

Once youve returned the bird to a nest—whether real or homemade—keep an eye out for the parents. If they don’t return within an hour, call a wildlife rehabilitation center.

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Can I put a bird back in its nest?

When fledglings leave their nest they rarely return, so even if you see the nest it’s not a good idea to put the bird back in—it will hop right back out. Usually there is no reason to intervene at all beyond putting the bird on a nearby perch out of harm’s way and keeping pets indoors.

What to do if you find a bird on the ground?

Wearing gloves, or with clean hands, gently pick up the bird and place it in a covered box with air holes and a cloth or soft bedding. Place the box in a dark, quiet place away from people and pets. Don’t give the bird food or water. Contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center to arrange for further care.

Can you put an injured bird back in its nest?

The best thing you can do is to place the nestling back in the nest—if you can find it. It will likely be within a few yards of where you found the bird. If you can’t locate the nest, carefully place the nestling in a safe place—for example in the shade of a nearby shrub.

Can a mother bird put her baby back in the nest?

For the most part, a mother bird will simply keep raising her nestlings in a nest that has been slightly disturbed. Sometimes they will keep raising their babies in an artificial nest if the original has been damaged.