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What To Do If You Find A Baby Bird

The following is a quick guide to help you make the right decision when a baby bird is found.

Many species of birds such as crows and owls leave the nest and spend as many as 2-5 days on the ground before they can fly. This is a normal and vital part of the young birds' development. While they are on the ground, the birds are cared for and protected by their parents and are taught vital life skills (finding food, identifying predators, flying).

Taking these birds into captivity denies them the opportunity to learn skills they will need to survive in the wild. Unless a bird is injured or in immediate danger, it is better to leave them outside to learn from their parents.

If You Care, Leave Them There

Nestlings on the Ground

If you are concerned that a bird fell from its nest too early, you may try and return the bird to its nest. If the nest has been destroyed or is unreachable, you may substitute a strawberry basket or small box lined with tissue and suspend it from a branch near to where you believe its nest is located.

Birds have a poor sense of smell and very strong parental instincts, which means they will usually continue caring for their young. However, adult birds are cautious after any type of disturbance and it may take several hours before they approach the nestling. During this period, it is essential that humans not approach the nestling.

Fledglings on the Ground

Fledglings are typically fully feathered, with a short tail and wings. They are able to walk, hop and flap, and they may attempt short flights, but are still being cared for by the parents.

If you find a fledgling, it should be left alone or at the most placed in a nearby shrub. Keep people and pets away so the parents will continue to care for it until it can fly.

Placing fledglings back into nests is typically only a short-term solution, as they will quickly re-emerge. Moving fledglings to entirely new locations is also ineffective, as they are still dependent on their parents for survival and will quickly starve.

What To Do If You Find An Injured Bird

Contact CROW, on Sanibel Island at (239) 472-3644, ext. 222 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., 7 days a week.  Update: Due to Hurricane Ian, operations at CROW have been disrupted. Please call, or click the CROW icon for current status of their operations before you attempt to deliver an animal to Sanibel. One of CROW’s drop-off points is BluePearl Pet Hospital, open 24 hours/day at 9500 Marketplace Road, Fort Myers, FL 33912, 239-208-6830. Please call before delivering an animal.  You can access other drop-off locations and more information by clicking the CROW icon:

Before taking action, however, remember that wild animals are easily frightened and may attack once cornered. Protect yourself, wear gloves and have towels ready,and follow these suggestions to make the process happen more smoothly.

Baby Birds

Please resist the temptation to feed baby birds because inappropriate feeding can often have fatal results. Place the babies on a towel or tissue in a well-ventilated, covered box, such as a shoe box. You can give them a “nest” if you’d like--a small bowl or container with tissues piled inside it.


Babies need supplementary heat. It is ideal to use a heating pad: set it to LOW, wrap it in a towel, and place the box on top of it. Alternatively, you can use a hot water bottle, or any water/ soda bottle or zip-lock bag filled with hot water. Wrap your hot-water bottle or bag in a towel and place it next to the babies in their box. Once baby birds are in a dark and quiet area, they will quiet down and go to sleep.

Adult Birds

Keep the bird in a covered, ventilated box or crate. Wild birds injure themselves in birdcages, but cardboard boxes with air holes work very well for them. A towel on the bottom of the box for the bird to stand on is ideal but not necessary.

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