Archive for June 2018

What to Do If You Find a Young or Injured Bird

From time to time, you may come across a young or injured bird that needs assistance. It is important to follow proper steps to make sure you are helping these birds and not further harming them.

 

American Robin Nestlings © kkmarais / Flickr CC BY 2.0

American Robin Nestlings © kkmarais / Flickr CC BY 2.0

If you find a bird, first determine its age. If the bird is not fully feathered, it is a nestling and needs to be returned to its nest. Contrary to popular belief, birds do not have a well-developed sense of smell, and therefore the parents won’t know if the baby has been touched by humans and will not abandon it. If the nest is intact, put the baby back in and watch from a distance to see if the parents are visiting the nest. If you cannot find or reach the nest, you can put the nestling in a box that has holes poked in the bottom for drainage and suspend the box near where the nest is located.

 

If the young bird is fully feathered, has a short tail and wings, and is able to hop or take short flights, it is a fledgling and can most likely be left alone. Young birds often leave the nest with weak flight muscles and are fed outside the nest for a few days by their parents. If the bird is in immediate danger (for example, it is on a sidewalk or road), move the bird off to a safer spot like the top of a bush or shrub nearby. Do not return the bird to the nest; it has outgrown its former home and will quickly hop back out. Despite your urge to take in the young bird, its parents are far better at feeding it and teaching it survival skills than any human, and taking in a young bird of a native species is illegal.

 

American Robin Fledgling © Denise Rosser / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

American Robin Fledgling © Denise Rosser / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

 

An adult bird on the ground unable to fly is probably injured. Slowly approach the bird, and if it doesn’t fly away when you’re within 10 feet or so, you can assume something’s wrong. Approach the bird from behind and scoop it up firmly. Carefully put it in a box with a lid or a towel over the top (or better) in an unwaxed paper bag clipped shut. Handle the bird as little as possible and do not force feed it or give it water. Birds go into shock very easily when injured, and often die from the shock. If the bird shows visible signs of injury (unable to flutter wings, bleeding, wings drooping unevenly, weak or shivering), it needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. You can find a list of rehabilitators in New York City here. If you are unable to take the bird to a rehabilitator yourself, call NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 to see if someone from our network of volunteers can pick up the bird and transport it.

 

If a bird has hit a window and is still alive, it may just be stunned and need a little time to regain its senses, after which it may be able to fly away. If there are cats or other predators nearby, place the bird in an enclosed bag or box and keep it in a safe, quiet, dark place. In a few hours, or once you hear the bird begin to flutter around, open the bag or box and place it on the ground to give the bird a chance to fly out. If the bird doesn’t fly away on its own, it needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. Just as important as saving the bird, you can also make a valuable contribution to our Project Safe Flight research and contribute to our understanding of bird collisions in New York City by logging the injured bird on D-Bird, our crowd-sourced bird collision data collection tool, on your smartphone or computer at www.d-bird.org.