Keeping a Nesting Bird Safe

What should I do once a nesting bird leaves the nest?

Rob Ripma

We are getting to the time of year when I get a ton of questions about what to do with a young bird that has left the nest. Is the fledgling bird okay? Has its parent abandoned it? Can I take care of it myself and release it later?

These are just some of the many questions that I get about nesting birds, and they are all very good questions to ask. Everyone is very interested in helping the the fledglings and making sure they reach adulthood, which is a wonderful thing!

This Rock Wren is feeding its young that are close to leaving the nest. (Photo by Eric Ripma)

This Rock Wren is feeding its young that are close to leaving the nest. (Photo by Eric Ripma)

Here are some of my favorite tips for keeping fledgling birds safe:

1. Although it might appear that there isn’t an adult bird in the area, it’s unlikely that the fledgling has been abandoned. Feel free to carefully and gently check the fledgling to make sure there are no injuries (and if there are, see my second tip). If you feel the bird might be in danger, pick it up and move it to a safer location.

2. If you observe an injured bird, the best thing to do for the bird is to call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you have trouble finding a rehabber in your area, contact a local vet, nature center, or bird feeding/bird supply store, and they will point you in the right direction.

3. If you do determine that the fledgling has been abandoned, do not attempt to raise the bird yourself. It’s extremely difficult and also illegal. Contact a rehabber as soon as possible.

4. It does not hurt a baby bird if you pick it up and put it back in its nest. It’s a common myth that touching a baby bird will cause the parents to abandon it but it just that – a myth.

You can get more information about what to do with young birds that are out of the nest by reading this post from another Birds & Blooms blogger, Jill!

  1. Shelly DD says

    My experience has been that putting a baby bird back in the nest is almost impossible unless it’s a very young fledgling. Older babies are calm when I catch them but as soon as I let go they freak out and fall back out. And if there’s other chicks in the nest they also freak out and all of them ate out then. I don’t know how to put them back and keep them calm.

  2. says

    My mom helped a fledging out when I was young. I remember there was a nest and the next had fallen apart. My mom put the fledging back in the nest and it fell out again and hung its self on the branches of the bush.the other fledging was ok. Mom brought it in the house put it in a bowel with some grass hay and fed it raw hamburg and strawberries. The fledging stayed with us till it grew its feathers and one day we opened the window and it few out and up into an apple tree. We all ran out side to see if we could see it but never did and this bird was healthy and lived. It was a mocking bird. I had my picture taken with the local newpaper with this fledging feeding it. Thought you would enjoy this story.. I will never for get that mocking bird.

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