how to care for an injured fledgling bird

If you think youve found an orphaned or injured wild animal, what should you do? We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that it’s natural to want to help. Here are a few things you should know to keep the animal safe and avoid breaking the law.

Most states require permits or licenses, training and approved facilities to rehabilitate wildlife and some species, including most birds, require federal permits as well. For the safety of the animal, yourself and your family, always call a professional.

Stop and notice your surroundings. Look for a cause of injury. Do you see any fallen nests on the ground? Was there a recent wind or strong storm that moved through? Most of the time, the best thing to do is to leave the animal alone, but you’ll know a wild animal needs help if it has a visible broken limb, is bleeding, shivering or has a deceased parent nearby.

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Baby birds: Nestlings and fledglings

If you come across a baby bird, it probably doesn’t need your assistance unless it is blind or lacks feathers. These birds are still in the nesting stage and are not yet ready to leave. Placing the nestling back in the nest is the best course of action if you can find the nest nearby. If you are unable to find the nest, either relocate the nestling to a shaded area or leave it where you found it. The parents will come back. Don’t worry, your scent won’t deter the parents.

Larger birds outgrow their nests and require more space to walk around, spread their wings, and eventually learn to fly. These more mature birds are fledglings, and their more developed feathers make it easy to recognize them. They can hop and flutter on their own. Help is not needed for fledglings because their parents are still present and taking care of them. Be sure to give them plenty of space.

Finding a licensed rehabilitator

To truly assist an animal in need, you must locate a certified wildlife rehabilitator. It’s crucial to find a place that can accommodate the species you’ve discovered. Always call ahead and make arrangements before transporting an animal.

A list of certified rehabilitators is maintained on the websites of numerous state conservation agencies. You should find some resources if you try searching for “wildlife rehabilitator near me” online. You can find a map of the locations of bird rehabilitators if that’s what you’re specifically looking for. Remember that there are probably other rehabilitators in your area who do not have a license to work with birds.

Thank you for caring about the wildlife in your community. They are also your neighbors, so it’s admirable that you want to be ready to support them when they need it. Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance. A young animal’s parents are probably close by and still providing for it if there are no obvious wounds. Give young animals lots of room so as not to frighten their parents.


What to do if you find a hurt fledgling?

If you find a young bird (or any species of wildlife that seems sick, injured, or in trouble), usually the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Why? For one thing, it’s the law. In North America, it is illegal to disturb most wildlife species.

How do you keep a fledgling bird alive?

While you’re working to get help for the animal, keep him or her warm and quiet by placing a heating pad on the lowest setting under half of the box or placing a small hot water bottle inside the box. Then put the box in a closet or another warm, dark, quiet, and safe place away from people and animals.

Should I help a fledgling bird?

The best thing to do for a fledging is to leave it alone, keep the cats and dogs inside or on a leash, and keep people, small children and lawn mowers away. In some cases, it may be best to place the fledging off the ground in a bush, but it may not stay put.

How do you treat a wounded baby bird?

Letting the bird “rest” in a box, holding the bird on your hand, or taking it into your house are all terrible ideas. If a bird does not fly away immediately, get it into a safe, dark, and dry space and call a licensed rehabilitator.