With No or Few Feathers
Baby birds are called hatchlings at birth or nestlings as long as they remain in the nest. If you find a featherless baby bird on the ground, it has fallen out of the nest. Try to find the nest and put the baby back in it. If this is not possible, keep the baby warm and dry and call us. It’s OK to touch the baby.
Some rehabilitators will tell you to create a new nest out of a plastic container and attach the container to the tree under which you found the baby on the ground. It is true that the parents will continue feeding the baby during the day, however, nighttime is a different story. The mother cannot brood, i.e., keep warm, both the babies in the nest and the baby in the container, and the container baby will die of hypothermia, not to mention be eaten by a predator.
Basically, if the featherless baby cannot be returned to the nest, it will have to be taken to a rehabilitator.
Baby birds with feathers that look like miniature versions of their parents are called fledglings. They learn to fly by leaving the nest and hopping around on the ground. During this time, the parents are still feeding and teaching them how to survive on their own. This is a dangerous time but very necessary for them to learn. They do not need to be rescued.
Keeping cats indoors will help keep baby birds safe especially during April, May. and June, the most active months for baby birds. However, if a cat has caught a baby and the cat’s teeth have perforated the baby’s skin, the baby will need antibiotic medication to survive and must be taken to a rehabilitator. The bacteria in a cat’s saliva is sufficient to kill a baby bird within 24 hours.
If you feel that a young bird is in imminent danger, for example, from a cat or being hit by a car, it is okay to pick it up and move it to a safe place nearby. The parent birds will still tend to it. However, the presence of cats in the neighborhood is not a sufficient reason to kidnap a baby bird from its parents. Call us for guidance.
Often songbirds fly into windows or collide with cars causing brain trauma. When this happens, the bird will sit there in a stupor, not flying. Sometimes, the brain injury causes paralysis, and the bird cannot walk or hop. If the bird does not recover and fly away in a couple of hours, it will need to be taken to a rehabilitator.
Adult birds caught and injured by cats, need to go to a rehabilitator. If the cat’s teeth have perforated the bird’s skin, the bacteria in the cat’s saliva will kill the bird unless it receives antibiotic medication.
Other reasons to take an adult songbird to a rehabilitator include broken and sprained wings; wounds from hawk, owl, or dog attacks; and starvation due to severe drought conditions. Whatever the reason, if the bird needs help, please call us for advice.