Sooo, You Found a Baby Bird ... Now What?

Profile photo of Whitney-C

Posted March 25, 2015 by Whitney Calk

There’s no use denying it: Baby birds are adorable. Everything about their little feathers and tiny chirps makes our ♥s melt.

baby birdThis time of year, there are tons of baby birds out and about, so before you spot one of these cuties on the ground and swoop in to help, check out the deets below to figure out whether or not your help is actually needed:

Fledglings: The Basics

Fledglings are juvenile birds who have “fledged” from their nests and are learning to fly.

Fledgeling pigeon

If healthy, they can stand upright and will tuck their wings tightly to their bodies.

fledgling bird on wood

They have a mix of fuzzy down and adult feathers, with typically very short tail feathers.

fledgling bird with down feathers

They are typically found on the ground near bushes or trees and will hop around, appear generally awkward, and remain very still if approached.

fledgling blue jay

They can find their own food but will get assistance from parents in a pinch.

fledgling bird in box

Well-meaning people sometimes “rescue” fledglings when they don’t need to be. Usually it’s best to leave the birds alone.

IMPORTANT: Fledgling birds are often “rescued” when they don’t need to be. But sometimes birds found on the ground DO need our help!

If you find a fledgling, go through this checklist:

  • Are there bloody wounds, wet feathers, legs that aren’t bearing weight, drooping wings, or matted or highly ruffled feathers?
  • Is the bird lying on his or her side or back or scooting along the ground on his or her belly?
  • Is the bird’s body or head tilting to one side? Is there blood around the nostrils?
  • Is the bird cold to the touch and/or noticeably shivering?
  • Is the bird in the wide open, nowhere near trees or bushes?
  • Are there other animals, such as dogs or cats, stalking the bird?

If the answer to all these questions is “No,” the fledgling should be left alone.


If the answer to any of the above questions is “Yes,” or if the grounded bird is a nestling (a baby bird who is too young to leave the nest), YOUR help is needed!

injured young fledge-speech-bubble

 What should you do?

  1. Stay with the bird and take a photo if you can.
  2. Call your local animal control agency or wildlife rehabilitation center, and transport the animal for care immediately.
  3. Not sure how to reach either of the above? Contact PETA right away at 757-622-7382 and follow the instructions to report an animal emergency. We can help!

Find out other ways YOU can help an animal in danger:

how to handle an animal emergency

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  • 169 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Hey :) I have rescued a few baby birds, a baby cat and baby bunnies… I do not live in the USA or UK. And the local autority doesn’t really care about a baby bird in need of care. What was I supost to do then?

  • 248 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Thank you for the information, I, myself have rescued a number of birds. In many cases I couldn’t save the poor fellas. In my city there are too many crows so even healthy fledglings get attacked and eaten if they don’t stay in the shadows. So just to help them out I bring them home. I usually don’t put them in cages and I’ve noticed that after a period of time they lose their fear of humans and begin to treat us as their parents. They learn to fly easily in the house (no crows tof attack them and I have a big house) and slowly move out. The best part is that they always come back share their affection and go back into the wild. Till date I’ve rescued and successfully releases into the wild a female cuckoo, a number or pigeons, a kingfishers, a mynah and a bat, yes a very cute little fruit bat. They were all darlings and I love each and every one of them. Right now I’m looking after 2 baby pigeons. Can I post a video and a picture of them somewhere?

  • Profile photo of LittleLotte

    890 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Many years ago, my dog Tess grabbed a fledgling (normally she wouldn’t hurt a fly but the poor birdee startled her and she reacted out of surprise). I put the little critter in a box and checked in on him/her every 10-20 minutes for a few hours; there appeared to be no damage so I popped him/her back outside under a bush and he/she scuttled away.

    • Profile photo of Whitney-C

      888 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Thanks for helping this birdy! Be sure to contact us ASAP if this happens again. :)

    • Profile photo of Whitney-C

      888 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Aww, thanks of helping that birdy! Please contact us ASAP if this happens again, though.

    • Profile photo of Ellingtonswifer5

      247 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Same thing with my yellow lab a couple summers ago. I caught him with a baby in his mouth and was able to get it in the bushes, a few minutes later it was gone and he never saw it again. I think it went back home.

  • Profile photo of jessicamacdougall5

    893 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    When I was younger I found a baby bird with a broken leg. I nursed it back to health. She learned how to fly and started flying away when my older brother Justin, Smashed her skull with a baseball bat. RIP My baby Fluffernuter

    • Profile photo of Whitney-C

      892 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Yikes. :( Please let us know immediately if you find another baby bird!

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    922 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Thanks for the info!

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