Copyright © 2019 Mother Lode Wildlife Care

How to Help an Orphaned or Injured Songbird

 

 

No matter how hard we try, we will never be as good as this! It’s why we make every effort to reunite babies with their parents.

Very young babies

 

  • Very young birds (hatchlings) have no feathers or down. Nestlings have down and pinfeathers (feathers in quills still forming). Birds at these stages need to be in a nest and have their best chance of survival with their parents.

 

  • If the baby is uninjured, try to find the nest or call us for information about making a substitute nest. If the baby is put back in a nest, the nest must be monitored to verify the parents have resumed feeding the baby.  If the parents have not returned within an hour, wrap the baby gently and loosely in a soft cloth, put it in a paper bag or box with holes, keep it warm and call us.  

Fledglings

 

  • Fledglings (almost ready to fly, fully feathered, short tails and may still have downy fluff) routinely hop around on the ground. They do not need your help unless clearly injured,  sick, or directly threatened by predators (in which case, the best solution is to remove the predator, not the fledgling).

 

  • A fledgling’s best chance for survival is with its parents. You need to be sure both parents are dead or gone before you attempt to rescue it.  Hummingbirds are the exception since only the female feeds the young. Monitor the fledgling for a few hours (if the bird is safe) before taking other action.

 

  • A bird is injured or sick if you saw it being attacked or picked up by a dog or cat, or you can see blood, a broken leg or drooping wing, or if it is shivering.

 

  • Wrap it gently and loosely in a soft cloth, put it in a paper bag or box with holes, and call us.

 

Adult Birds

 

  • Adult birds are fully feathered.

 

  • If an adult bird has hit a window, pick it up gently and put it in a paper bag or a box with holes. Leave it in a warm, dark, quiet place where predators (cats and dogs) cannot get to it. Do not attempt to feed it or provide it with water. In many cases they recover. If you hear it rustling in the bag within 20-30 minutes, take it outside and let it go. Otherwise call us. It may have a concussion and require extra care.

  • A bird is injured or sick if you saw it being attacked or picked up by a dog or cat, or you can see blood, a broken leg or drooping wing, or if it is shivering.

  • Wrap it gently and loosely in a soft cloth, put it in a paper bag or box with holes, and call us.

In All Cases

 

  • If you’re not sure, call us first.

 

  • Never provide the bird with food or water. We know you want to help, but you are more likely to hurt the bird than help it if you attempt to feed it.

 

  • Always make a record of the date, time and location you found the bird.