Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

How to Care for a Lost Baby Bird

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

How to Care for a Lost Baby Bird

Article excerpt

AT THIS time of year there are many young birds around and now and then you will find them on the ground and seemingly helpless -- abandoned and lost -- so here are a few tips to help you to help them.

First you need to work out if this bird is an infant or a toddler, a nestling or a fledgling? Nestlings are baby birds that are featherless, with pink skin. They can't move around much or fly and they still need to be in the nest.

Fledglings are juvenile birds that are actually old enough to be out of the nest, but still too young to be competent fliers.

Caring for a nestling

Nestlings (featherless baby birds) are sometimes blown out of their nest on a windy day or during a storm. And sometimes, the whole nest comes down so, if you find a nestling, do this:

Look for the nest in a nearby tree and if it is still there and intact, simply place the baby back in the nest.

If the nest has fallen out of the tree, gather as much of the nest material as possible, get a plastic container about the same size as the nest, put the nesting material you have collected into it and after putting a drain hole or two in the bottom, put the container, maybe nail it, up in the tree near where the nestling was found.

If there is no nesting material left, use old cloth or clean paper towel and then put your nestling back in the nest and watch and wait for the parent to return.

It's a myth mother birds abandon babies touched by human hands. Birds have a poor sense of smell, so mother or father bird isn't likely to pick up your scent on the nestling!

Rest assured the parents have invested time and energy into raising their baby, and nature will prompt them to continue until the baby bird can survive on its own.

You should feel comfortable gently picking the nestling up and placing it in the makeshift nest you've secured high up in the tree.

The fledgling stage

Instead of a little pink, featherless baby bird, you might run across one a bit older, a fledgling and these are the young birds that have outgrown the nest.

Flying from the nest to the ground is instinctual in fledglings, but their landing and ground take off skills are still developing and they will often spend some time, even days, hopping around on the ground, learning hunting and foraging skills from their parents.

While they are doing this, the parents are usually within calling distance and will return intermittently to feed the fledgling while it learns how to find its own food on the ground and continues to mature.

What NOT to do if you find a fledgling

Fledglings are "kidnapped" more often than nestlings because when people find them hopping around on the ground alone, they assume they've been orphaned rather than blown out of their nest.

Well meaning people might be tempted to capture it to get it out of harm's way. …

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