What to Do When You Find a Baby Bird? – 4 Important Steps


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

what to do when you find a baby bird

When the spring and summer seasons grace the land, the birds are nesting. In this period, it’s quite normal to see baby avians lying on the street, all alone. And if faced with the situation, what to do when you find a baby bird?

Sadly, many passersby go on their way without caring. But as a bird enthusiast, your first instinct is to help and rescue the chick. Let’s explore different routes and see which one suits your circumstance best.

Guide on What to Do When a Baby Bird Is Found Helpless


The young avian could have fallen from the nest due to bad weather. It could also be caused by an unstable nest or a poor attempt to get out to find food. However, when you find a baby bird on the ground with no nest, it’s important to identify whether the baby passerine is a hatchling, a nestling, or a fledgling.

Regardless of the circumstance why you found a baby bird, knowing what to do next is crucial to the survival of the chick. Here’s what you should know and follow.

Step 1: Tell the Difference Between A Hatchling, Nestling, & Fledgling

Before we learn what to do with a baby bird that is alone, let’s determine how hatchling, nestling, and fledgling differ from each other.

  • Hatchlings are newly hatched baby birds. They have zero to very few feathers, with their skin almost bare and eyes not outright open. Hatchlings cannot walk or fly yet, and they are fully dependent on their parents.
  • Nestlings are more than three days old, with a couple of feathers already. They are not capable of walking, hopping, or flying yet. Nestlings rely on their parents for food, and they are still vulnerable to the elements of the earth.
  • Fledglings have developed feathers, and they have clear vision. They can walk, hop, almost fly, and are ready to fend for themselves in the world.

Knowing the difference between the three types of young avians helps you perform your baby bird rescue attempt.

Step 2: Confirm If The Baby Bird Is Injured Or Not

Young birds are typically energetic, and they’re always chirping. If you find them in an active state, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you encounter abandoned baby birds, and they are not making any noise, then that could mean that the chicks are hurt.

Look for any obvious indication of injuries such as blood, discarded feathers, dislocated feet, or bent wings. Immobility is also a clear hint of injury, so watch out for the motion of the wild baby bird you found.

Also, check this guide to know the status of the baby bird if you needed!

Step 3: Figure out What To Do With The Stranded Baby Bird

The warm weather signals the breeding season. And when bird eggs start to hatch, you can expect stranded chicks on the ground.

Since you like the passerine species, you would want to take care of a baby bird on your own. Just know that there are multiple ways you can show your affection to the adorable small creatures.

#1. Build An Improvised Nest

To keep a baby bird alive, it’s ideal to build a makeshift nest.

There are numerous options for this, including a cardboard box, abandoned flower pot, coconut shell, small basket, and unused bowl. Use clean rags or tissues as the bedding.

Before laying the baby avian on the temporary nest, you can also insert a heat pad to keep the chick warm. This may be a long stretch for many people, but for dedicated birders, the comfort of the young passerines matters most.

Once the baby orphaned bird is safe and sound inside the interim nest, place it somewhere safe.

Make sure that your cats and dogs cannot get to the nest. You can also relocate the baby bird to a tree nearby.

The most important thing about creating a make-do nest is to place it in close proximity to where you found the young avian. It will give a chance for the parents to be reunited with their lost baby.

#2. Wait For The Parent Birds

Parent birds have strong instincts, especially when it comes to their babies. And so when a baby bird fell out of nest and can’t fly, you can expect the adult passerines to save their young.

If the young bird is in danger of getting run over by a car, step on by people, or preyed on by predators, transfer the baby bird to a nearby safer spot. You can do this by carrying it in your hands or using a makeshift nest to transport the chick.

And then wait for the parents to find their baby. Of course, don’t stay too close to avoid spooking the adult passerines. But if you can’t stay long, ask a friend or a family member to wait for you.

#3. Provide Food

When you rescue a baby bird, make it a point to feed the young avian.

  • For hatchling and nestling, it’s best to feed them directly in the mouth. They can’t eat on their own yet, so use your hands or a small clip. And if you need to feed a fledgling, leave the food in a small tray.
  • Remember not to feed young passerines with tofu, human milk, hotdog, dry seed, hamburger meat, or wet bread. These foods are okay for adult birds but not for babies.

The foods you can feed the baby avians are earthworms, mealworms, crickets, commercial bird formulas, and even canned cat food. After feeding, wash your hands properly, and sanitize them.

However, if you have no access to any of the proper foods, then better to hand the baby bird over to a vet or a rehabilitator. Keep in mind that the young passerine can die under your watch if given the wrong meal.

Step 4: Call a local wildlife rehabilitator

Your heart is definitely in the right place with good intentions if you opt to care for a baby bird. And as long as you are utterly confident in your knowledge of rescuing a young passerine, you’ll surely do fine.

However, if you have doubt in your abilities, then leave the liberation to the professionals.

Look for the contact number of a local wildlife rehabilitator. Call them immediately and report what you have seen.

These professionals have the right resources to keep a baby bird alive, so don’t hesitate to pass on the task of saving the deserted baby passerine.

This route is the best path especially if you find that the parent birds are dead (You should check carefully because the stunned and dead birds have the same symptoms).

The helpless baby avian requires medical help that the wildlife rehabilitator can only provide. And so, by calling them, you help a baby bird survive and save its life.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Am I allowed to raise a young avian?

Only residents who have permits or licenses to raise birds can do so at their home.

If you find a baby bird on the ground, better call a wildlife rehabilitator. But if you see the nest, simply wear gloves and place the tiny avian back with its siblings.

2. Is it safe to touch a wounded baby bird?

Birds of all sizes and ages have the potential to carry diseases that affect humans.

If you intend to carry the abandoned hatchling, nestling, or fledgling, make sure to wear a pair of clean gloves. But if you have no access to gloves, then wash your hands after handling the young avian, and out on a generous amount of alcohol.

3. When is it okay to leave a baby bird on the ground?

Not all baby birds on the ground are wounded or helpless. If you happen to find a fledgling, then it is supposed to be out of its nest.

The young passerine could have temporarily lost its balance. And if you see it’s recovering from a dire state, then it’s safe to leave it behind.

4. Will the bird parents rescue their young baby?

Like humans, bird parents look for their babies if they get lost. So if you find a cheery baby bird on the ground, watch it from a distance for a while. Soon, one of the parents will come and rescue it and feed the chick.


Those steps above tell you what to do when you find a baby bird. It’s normal to feel the need to care for the small creature, but it’s also okay not to do anything. Simply wait for the parents to come for their young. Or, you can opt for the ideal solution of calling a local wildlife rehabilitator.

We hope that we have highlighted some of your concerns regarding deserted young passerines. Feel free to share this post!

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