IF YOU HAVE FOUND
A BIRD IN TROUBLE:
Always try to get a disabled wild bird to
a Wildlife Specialist
for proper medical care as soon as possible! (And please note:
children should not handle wildlife. If you are a child who has
found a bird in trouble, please get a grown-up to help you.)
Until you can get the bird to a Wildlife
Specialist, make sure the bird stays warm, dry, and quiet.
If you find a baby bird, the most important
thing to do is to keep it warm and quiet. A source of gentle
heat (NOT a light bulb) is especially important for birds that
are unfeathered and have only naked skin, or have newly developing
feathers called quills. These hatchling birds need direct, gentle
heat such as a hot water bottle filled with warm water. The hot
water bottle should be covered with a soft, dry cloth and placed
in a box. The young bird can be put into a small container lined
with tissue so that the legs and body are supported. The bird
and container can be put on top of the hot water bottle and the
box loosely covered to hold in the heat.
Emergency hot water bottles can be made out
of plastic soda bottles, self-sealing sandwich bags, and even
surgical gloves filled with warm water with the open end tied
in a tight knot. Just take care that they do not leak and get
the bird wet, and that they are not too hot. A light bulb should
not be used because it will dry out a baby bird, and heating
pads are hard to regulate and often get too hot.
Never give liquids to baby birds. Once warmed
up, most baby wild birds that are loudly begging for food with
a wide open mouth can be given small pieces of berries about
every 30 minutes during daylight hours. (Baby doves and pigeons
are an exception; they do not open mouth food beg like other
wild birds and should not be given berries. Note that baby hawks
and owls are carnivores and should also not be given berries.)
Place the berries far back into the throat with blunt tweezers
or with just your clean fingers. Cut up blueberries, raspberries,
strawberries or grapes will provide moisture and sugar.
Make sure to wash your hands well before feeding
berries to baby birds. Humans carry bacteria on our hands that
can be very harmful to these delicate animals.
Remember that all birds except owls must sleep
at night so do not feed them after dark. Take care not to get
any food on the bird's skin or feathers. Also note that blueberries
will cause a baby bird's droppings to be blue!
Berries are generally a safe temporary food
for hungry baby birds but will not provide adequate nutrition
for more than a few hours. It is important that they get to a
for proper care and feeding. Giving the wrong food or waiting
too long can cause metabolic damage to the growing bird.
Adult and older disabled birds that are fully
feathered with longer tails may not need heat as they are better
able to thermo-regulate than naked hatchlings. However, if they
are cold, then provide heat. They should be kept dark and quiet
on a towel in a box. Use a rolled-up cloth underneath them as
support for any birds that are having trouble standing up. It
is very important to keep these birds in a quiet environment
with no human or pet sounds in order to reduce stress. Quiet
rest in a dark box is most important for sick or injured adult
birds, and they should not be given food or water except on the
advice of a Wildlife Rehabilitator.
Fledglings can be given berries if they are warm and food begging.
Birds that have flown into a window usually
recover within 1-3 hours with box rest. While they may appear
to be awake after hitting a window, they are most often in a
state of unconsciousness and will allow themselves to be picked
up easily. Place them on a cloth supported in an upright position
in a dark box. If they cannot stand or fly normally after 3 hours
maximum of such rest they cannot be let go, and should go to
a Wildlife Specialist
for medical care.
PLEASE NOTE: Never put a wild bird in a cage, because unlike domesticated
birds, wild birds have no understanding or experience of cages
and may try to escape between the bars. An escape attempt like
this could result in further injury, especially while in a car
during transportation to a Wildlife
It is best to put a wild bird that needs help
in a dark box, on a towel. Being in a box actually calms a wild
bird, because it feels safe and less vulnerable to predators.
Placing a wild bird in a box helps it to feel like it is hiding.
A box with a lid is best so that the bird
is in the dark, and a few small air holes will help with air
circulation. The size of the box should not be too large. A box
that allows the bird to turn around comfortably without hitting
the walls or lid is best, as this will limit activity and the
possibility of further injury to the bird.
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belong to The Place for Wild Birds, Inc.
Copyright © 2002, all rights reserved. Reproduce only with
All photographs by Walter S. Bezaniuk. Most illustrations by
Site design and some illustrations by Sara.