Thursday, November 10, 2011

how to help an injured baby bird

last week i noticed oscar the cat playing with something small and furry. i rushed out to see what it was - it was a very young finch. it wasn't bleeding, but its legs looked mangled. my first instinct was to bring the bird inside and call animal control (via the local animal shelter) to come help.

after making the phone call, i sat with the bird in my hand, praying and waiting. it looked a fluffy mess, and every so often it would try to move its legs. eventually it was able to position its legs underneath itself, and its feathers went back to normal. the bird looked completely fine, and i was sure it was going to live. but then it stopped breathing, and by the time help arrived, it had died.

normally when i'm faced with an unfamiliar situation, i hop online and search what to do. i wish i had because i probably would have acted differently, and the bird may have survived.

we can't change the past, but we can learn from it. i'm posting this with hopes that the information may help save other baby birds.

how to help a baby bird

if the bird is a nestling, too young to have feathers, try to locate its nest. after gently warming the bird in your hands, place it back in the nest, if possible. contrary to popular belief, the parents will not reject it because you've touched it.

• if it's a fledgling, mature enough to have feathers, check to see if the bird is injured. if so, contact animal control or the nearest wildlife rehabilitator. if not, it may just be learning to fly, and it's best to leave it be. keep small children and pets away. watch the bird from a distance, and if it seems hurt or the parents don't come, call for assistance.

• for a nest-less nestling or an injured bird waiting for help, create a nest with small plastic tupperware or a berry container and shredded facial tissue. do not use cotton, cloth, shredded paper or grass as it may cause more injury. do not let the bird sprawl on the bottom of the nest - rest it in a semi-upright position so that the edges provide support for the body and head.

provide warmth and a dark, quiet place. sometimes a few hours of rest and recuperation is all that is needed. do not try to force food, water or milk as it may cause more harm.

• if the baby seems uninjured, try placing it in the homemade nest back in the location it was found. watch to see if the parents come for it, but from a distance, as birds will not feed their young with people around. if a parent doesn't come for more than half a day, call for assistance.

caution: some birds are very dangerous to handle. if it has a sharp beak or claws, it's best to leave it and call a wildlife rehabilitator or animal control for help.

emergency care for birds and FAQ
if you find a baby bird (also provides info for helping adult birds)
what to do: finding baby birds
locate a wildlife rehabilitator


  1. Good job taking care of the birdie :) I have rescued many baby birds before (among other animals). If you ever need help or advice, you can email me! SCARShelter (at) gmail (dot) com. I used to own an animal rescue shelter. I'm not in business right now, but I want to start up again once I give birth.

  2. My bad, that above post was me, but I accidentally posted from my husbands account :)

  3. Aww, baby birds are so fragile. Glad you put this info up ... very helpful.

  4. Oh it's sad that you couldn't help the bird, but don't blame yourself. Maybe it was ill and this was the reason it was on the ground in the first place.

    Helpful tips!

  5. Oh Kellie, I am so sorry about the bird. That must have been so hard for you!!
    Thanks for looking up the info and posting it for others, that is great.
    Peace and Raw Health,

  6. Poor thing. THat made me sad. :(

  7. Aw, poor birdie. Sad he didn't make it but thank you for posting these tips. We have birdies coming around all the time that this could be helpful.

  8. Sorry about your little birdie, thanks for the tips though.


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