5. Mother birds push their defective young out of the nests – FALSE
If an egg doesn’t hatch, birds will sometimes roll it out of the nest, But wild birds do not push their young out of nests. Typically, baby wild birds will be knocked out of their nest by a fellow nest-mate, by the wind or more likely dragged out by a predator. It’s also not true that a wild bird parent will carry their young back to the nest.
4. Wild birds will not return to a fallen nest if it is put back into place – FALSE
Wild birds will absolutely return to a fallen nest, especially if called by their hungry babies. If a bird’s nest is knocked to the ground, return it near it’s original location. If the nest is damaged, the remaining material can be put inside a container with drainage holes (e.g. strawberry container) and wired into place near the original location. Set the babies back into the nest and watch from a distance to make sure the parents find the nest. The parents should return before nightfall. If they do not return to the nest, contact a wildlife rehabilitation specialist for more information.
3. It’s OK to try to raise a displaced baby wild bird yourself. – FALSE
In the U.S., only people who are licensed rehabilitators, or veterinarians who occasionally treat wildlife on an emergency basis, may legally care for wildlife. Otherwise, it is against state and federal laws for people to raise wild birds.
However, many people outside the U.S. and those in rural areas, and not near a wildlife rehabilitator find it difficult to not care for a displaced baby bird. In these circumstances, research and learn about the species of bird to be cared for, noting its nutritional needs, and keep your contact with the bird to a necessary minimum.
2. Any displaced baby wild bird should be returned to their nest. – FALSE
A nestling (pink or beginning feathers) should be placed back in the nest, and observed until the parents return. A fledgling (2-3 week old, fluffy with 1/2″ tail feathers) commonly exit and return to the nest as they learn to fly. If fledgling activity is observed in your backyard, keep pets and kids a safe distance away and leave the birds alone.
1. If you touch a baby wild bird, the mother will abandon it – FALSE
Birds have little to no sense of smell, and are dedicated parents who put a great deal of time and energy into feeding and caring for their young. Touching the baby bird will have no effect on the parents’ decision to care for the baby wild bird. If the nestling is cold to the touch, it can be cupped in the hands and warmed before putting it back into the nest.
What to do if you find a displaced baby wild bird
If you see a bird in distress, make sure there are no predators in the area (put cats and dogs indoors) and keep children a safe distance back.
Determine if the bird is nestling (pink and few feathers) or a fledgling (fuzzy, hopping and flapping, 1/2″ tail feathers). If it is a fledgling, let it be, as it is likely just practicing some new skills. If it’s a nestling, locate the nest and return it.
If the nest is lost or destroyed, hang or secure a container with drainage holes lined with dry paper towels near the original location of the nest. Do not attempt to give food or water to the baby bird. Return the baby birds to the nest and observe. If the parents have not returned by nightfall, bring the nestling indoors (warm, quiet, covered box with air holes) and contact a wildlife rehabilitation specialist in your area.
For more information about rescuing baby birds, visit the New England Wildlife Center.