If you live in an area with trees and birds' nests, chances are at some point you've come across a baby bird who appears to have tumbled out. Although if the baby has feathers and appears healthy other than being unable to fly, chances are it's a fledgling.
When babies get too big for their nests, their moms nudge them out. Their mamas will then continue to check in and bring them food until they can take wing on their own.
But what if the baby is a true infant. Didn't you hear somewhere that you should never touch a baby bird?
Well, as it turns out, there are a few things you can do.
For one thing, consider doing nothing. As with many animals, mother birds will occasionally leave their babies alone while they go out to find food.
"The animal's parents will do the best job at raising the baby compared to a wildlife rehabilitation facility or veterinarian," Helmer notes. "Unless the animal is injured, it is best to leave it alone and let nature take its course."
That's okay if the baby is in a nest or a patch of grass. But if you come across an infant bird on a sidewalk or street, then it's probably best to get involved.
Try wrapping the bird in a towel and carrying him to a nearby tree or shade. Mothers tend to know exactly where their children are — as long as you don't take them too far from where they were found.
"It is a myth that touching a baby bird will orphan it – birds do not have scent glands," says Rob Halpin of MSPCA-Angell.
Birds are fragile creatures, and baby birds even more so—so be very, very gentle when handling a baby bird!
The idea is to get them to a safe place — sheltered from the sun, or the claws of dogs and cats who may stumble upon them.
Once you've gotten the baby to a safe spot, lay a few blades of grass over him. That way, you can check up in 12 or 24 hours. If the grass has been displaced, it's likely mom and baby have reunited and mama is now taking charge.
Of course, a badly injured baby will need more than just a fresh patch of shade. Ideally you should take him to a wildlife center. But if you can't find one near you, Helmer recommends taking him to the nearest veterinary hospital — again using a towel or a crate, to keep the baby from bouncing around in the car.
It's important to note that injured babies won't eat or drink. The key is to get them medical attention ASAP.
Let the animal hospital do what they do best. Once the infant is stabilized, they'll likely be able to contact a local wildlife center where the baby bird can make a full recovery.
Then give yourself a pat on the back. You've earned it!
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