Help Protect Babies This Season

Posted April 16, 2020 by Vindi Sekhon

Spring and summer are nesting seasons for most wildlife, and good Samaritans often come upon babies out of their nests. When you find a baby bird it is important to understand how and when you can ensure the best chance of survival.

Is this a nestling or fledgling?

Did you find a baby on the ground and away from its nest? The first thing to determine is if the baby indeed needs your help.

A hatchling often appears bald, naked or only small amounts of feather or feather tracks. They are small and can be lacking in strength and energy. They are unable to fly, are reluctant to stand or walk and sometimes may not even have their eyes open.

Fledglings leave their nest 3-6 days before they can take flight while their parents are still providing their basic needs of food and shelter and keeping a close eye on them as they learn this important development. A fledgling will have short fully formed feathers and may be able to fly short distances.

Assess the circumstances when you first notice a baby. Take note of their energy levels and behavior to distinguish if this bird needs your help or if it should be left alone. If it is a hatchling or appears weak and quiet, it may need help. Birds parents will leave their young to collect food or water and return shortly. The length of time a parent leaves their young depends on species, food source, and surroundings. If you are standing near or over their baby the parents will be reluctant to return until you leave. It’s ALWAYS best to watch from a distance.

What to do when you find a baby bird?

  • Refrain from touching the bird and observe carefully from a safe distance. Notice if the baby can care for itself or if the parents are present. Often parents are nearby waiting to take care of their young. If you are unsure or have questions, please call the Wildlife Support Centre for advice. Photos and/or videos of the animal and situation are valuable to send to the Support Centre to help assess the circumstances.
  • Opportunity to return the bird to the nest: The safest place for a baby bird is its own nest. If the hatchling appears to be too young to be out of its nest (no feathers), wear gloves and carefully place it back in its nest. The parents will return. Watch from a safe distance to be sure the bird stays in the nest.
  • Ensure the box is safe from predators. The parents will hear their baby and continue carrying for their baby. Please be patient as you observe closely this make take up to an hour for the parents to return and find their baby.
  • Rescue and immediate help is needed when there are obvious sign of injury, blood, wounds, known to have been caught by a dog or cat, infested with bugs, foul smell, weak, nonresponsive, or the baby bird is a hatchling and can’t be put into the nest. Call our Support Centre for the latest COVID-19 protocols.

Nearly all birds are protected by Canada Migratory Birds Act, which makes it illegal to disturb or handle active nests. Don’t try to move a nest, even if it’s in an inconvenient spot. Please contact our Support Centre for assistance to ensure you are following federal laws and COVID-19 protocols for everyone’s safety.

Support Spring babies here!

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