animals

Here’s how to help the little birdie

If you have found a baby bird, first make sure if it is in distress before helping. So-called fledglings, young birds trying to fly for the first time, often look more pitiable than they are. Here you can find out when you should intervene and who you can contact in an emergency.


Don't worry little bird, you'll be safe in the bushes until your mom comes to feed you - Shutterstock / Andrew Iurciuc

Don’t worry little bird, you’ll be safe in the bushes until your mom comes to feed you – Shutterstock / Andrew Iurciuc

The little baby bird with its sparse plumage looks completely disheveled, doesn’t it need help, doesn’t it? Not necessarily, because if you’ve found a chick that’s already fledged, it may just be resting briefly from an attempt to fly, waiting for the next delivery of food from its parents. In some cases, however, you should actually help the birdies.

Does the baby bird even need help?

The offspring is divided into nestlings and fledglings. Nestlings are the very young, recently hatched chicks that are unfeathered or barely feathered. Fledglings, on the other hand, are young birds that are beginning to fledge and have already left the nest. They can be recognized by their already clearly visible plumage, which can still be interspersed with down. The first attempts to fly are exhausting for the baby bird, so it crouches on the ground, in the bushes or on a branch and takes a break. The parent birds fly in every one to two hours to be fed; the young animal draws attention to itself with loud calls. Once you’ve found such a baby bird, you only need to help if it’s in danger or injured. For example, if the little one is sitting on the side of the road, in the middle of the sidewalk, or in a way that a cat or dog could spot and injure it, this is such a case. Nestlings that have fallen off, on the other hand, always need help.

If you are unsure whether the foundling is doing well and whether it is being cared for by its parents, observe the fledgling from a hiding place for at least two, preferably three to five hours. You should not notice the bird parents, otherwise they may not dare to come closer. But if you keep looking out the window at the baby bird from your home, for example, you won’t be disturbed by the adult blackbirds, tits, sparrows or robins.

Found Baby Bird: Put it in a safe place

Unless the nestling is injured, gently return it to its home. However, be careful not to disturb or frighten the parent birds or they may not return to the nest. It is best to put off fledglings that are potentially in danger in a safe place within 25 meters. This can be a sheltered bush or a cozy branch. Observe here for about two hours whether the parents find and feed their young bird. If so, everything is fine. You don’t need to worry that the parents won’t accept the little flutter man after you touched him. Birds are not bothered by the smell of people and they find their offspring primarily through their loud squeaking.

With a few precautions, you can protect young birds from cats as best you can - Shutterstock / Sari ONeal
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Injured baby bird found: what to do now

You should only take a baby bird with you if it is injured or if you cannot find a nestling home. Sometimes you can see the nest but cannot reach it without putting yourself in danger. That’s another reason to carefully collect the little birdie and get help. If your cat brings you a live young bird as a gift, support is also needed. But don’t scold your cat, she meant well and followed her instincts. Wait until the kitty lets go of the bird and you can carefully take it.

Raising wild baby birds by hand is very complicated, so it is advisable that you take the little patient to the bird sanctuary, a wildlife sanctuary, or an animal sanctuary. Some veterinarians are also familiar with wild birds. A list of sanctuaries and care centers for orphaned nestlings and fledglings in Germany, Austria and Switzerland can be found on the “Wildvogelhilfe.org” website. You can also ask for advice from zoos, wildlife parks and nature conservation authorities.

You might also be interested in these topics from the animal category:

Bird flew into the house: what to do?

Found an injured bird: what to do?

Feeding birds in winter: what you should pay attention to

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