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?
  • 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.

healthy-fledgling-speech-bubble-2 Carstens 

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