So You Found a Baby Bird—Now What?

There’s no use denying that baby birds are adorable. Everything about them, from their little feathers to their tiny chirps, makes our ❤️ melt. 

There are tons of baby birds out and about in the spring and summer, so before you spot one of these cuties on the ground and swoop in to help, check out the info 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.

Healthy fledglings can stand upright and tuck their wings tightly to their bodies. They have a mix of fuzzy down and adult feathers, with typically very short tail feathers

They’re often found on the ground near bushes or trees and will hop around, appear generally awkward, and remain very still if approached. They can find their own food but will get assistance from their parents in a pinch. 

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

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 their side or back or scooting along the ground on their 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 or noticeably shivering? 
  • 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! 

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Stay with the bird, and take a photo. 
  2. Call your local animal control agency or wildlife rehabilitation center, and immediately transport the animal for care. 
  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 about other ways you can help an animal in danger: 

Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!

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