If you find a baby bird that is fully feathered but cannot seem to fly, it is a fledgling. This bird is beginning to fly and the parents will continue to feed it and teach it to forage for food while it is building up its flight muscles. After they are out of the nest, birds learn to fly from the ground up in to low branches. If possible, keep your dogs and cats restrained for the few days it takes for the fledglings to become fully flighted.
- If the bird you have found is truly orphaned or is injured, it will need assistance.
- Place the bird in a small box lined with soft rags. Close the lid and keep the bird in a warm, quiet place.
- If you have a heating pad, turn it on LOW and place the box on TOP of it.
- DO NOT PUT THE BIRD IN A BIRD CAGE. This can cause too much stress and can further injure the bird.
- DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GIVE THE BIRD ANY FOOD OR WATER UNTIL IT HAS WARMED UP. A cold animal cannot digest food.
- Soak some dry cat or dog food in warm water until it is mushy. Once the baby bird has warmed up, you may feed it small bites of the mushy food with a syringe or tweezers.
- If the baby bird has no feathers, it will need to be fed every half hour for a 12-hour day.
- If it has feathers, then it will only need to be fed hourly for a 12-hour day. The bird should eat several bites, poop, and then settle back down.
- If the bird isn’t defecating, it probably isn’t warm enough. It must poop after every feeding. Be aware that these are emergency feeding instructions and are only good for 24-36 hours. They do not provide adequate nutrition for a baby bird to be raised on and develop properly.
If you find a baby bird that is not fully feathered and is uninjured, look directly up and see if you can locate the nest. Then, make every effort to place it back in the nest. The parents will not abandon the baby if you have touched it or the nest.
If the nest cannot be located or if it is too high:
- Fasten a small basket lined with dried grass in the tree as far up as possible. A coco fiber lining for hanging baskets also works well.
- Place the nestling in the basket and watch diligently from a distance to see if a parent comes to feed it. Do not put the baby back if it is storming; wait until the weather clears.
- If the parents do not return within 2 hours, or before it gets dark, you will need to bring the baby inside.