(see below about ADULT birds)
Is the bird injured (bleeding, broken bones, puncture wounds, been in a catís mouth, open wounds, etc.)?
If YES, take the bird to your nearest wildlife veterinarian or rehabilitator.
If NO, see below.Is the bird fully feathered?
If YES, any fully feathered baby bird found on the ground, seemingly unable to fly, is probably just fledging. If it appears to be uninjured, leave the area, and do your best to keep pets and children away from the bird. The parent(s) will not feed the youngster while people are around.
If NO, attempt to find the nest. An uninjured bird found on the ground with little or no feathers needs to be returned to the nest. Look around in trees and bushes to see if you can locate the nest. Correct identification of the nestling or of the parents will help locate the nest (i.e. bluebirds are box or cavity nesters, mourning doves build basket nests on horizontal branches or in a tree fork).Can you find the nest?
If YES, simply put the bird back. However, make sure the young are warm to the touch. If the baby is not, you can simply warm the bird in your hands before returning it to the nest. Returning a young cold bird to the nest will sometimes encourage the parent to push the baby out of the nest, as it is trying to remove a cold object away from other warm eggs and/ or young.
If the nest is unreachable, construct a substitute nest of a similar size and shape (margarine tubs with drain holes punched in the bottom and filled with grass make fine substitute nests) and securely attach it as close as possible to the original nest site. Contrary to popular belief, the parents will not be frightened off by your "scent" and will return to feed the baby if it calls for food. If you want to be sure the parent(s) will continue to feed the baby, watch the baby from a safe distance, preferably indoors. Do not be alarmed if you donít see the parent return. Typically wild animals will not return to the nest if you are visible and/ or in the area.The best baby bird rehabilitation is prevention. Educate your friends, family, neighbors and yourselves about the fledging process. It is normal for birds at fledging to be on the ground unable to fly! Birds need several days up to four weeks, depending on their species, to learn how to fly and forage for food. One or more parent will feed them during this period. Know where nesting sites are located and keep cats and dogs indoors around the time you think the birds will fledge to avoid predation. Ask neighbors to take responsibility for their pets as well.
If NO, you canít find the nest, construct a substitute nest in the place where the nestling was found. Watch from indoors to see if a parent returns (be patient, it may not happen immediately). If a parent for more than half a day does not visit the nest, contact a licensed songbird rehabilitator for advice.
Please give baby birds the best possible chance for survival and leave them in the wild where they belong! Never attempt to treat or raise a baby bird on your own. Despite your best efforts, most hand-raised birds will die.
NOTE: In the USA and many other countries, raising a wild bird in captivity is illegal unless you have the proper permits.
(Info courtesy of the Virginia Wildlife Center, Virginia, USA. www.wildlifecenter.org)
If You Find An Injured ADULT Bird
STEP 1: Try to assess the source of the injury.
STEP 2: Cover a bird that has hit a window with a kitchen colander or a box with holes in it, and give it time to recover.
STEP 3: Remove the box or colander when the bird has regained its senses, and let it fly away.
STEP 4: Gently pick up a bird whose injuries are more serious and put it into a box or paper bag lined with soft tissues. Poke holes in the lid of the box or bag so that the bird can breathe.
If the bird is a raptor (bird of prey Ė hawk, eagle, falcon, etc.), do not attempt to handle and call a professional for help. You can be severely injured by the birdís talons and beak, or injure these larger birds even further, if not handled properly.
STEP 5: Do not give food or water to the injured bird.
STEP 6: Call for professional help. Do not try to treat an injured bird yourself unless you are a veterinarian or are licensed to handle wild birds. Follow the vetís advice.
If you do not have a local wildlife rehabilitation organization, call your local RSPB, Audubon chapter, Humane Society, or a local veterinarian to put you in touch with licensed rehabilitators in your area.