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Conservation IssuesHelping Injured
Wild Birds

Modified from
Rainier Audubon's
web page.


Karen M. Dvornich
Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator



Baby Bird

Nestlings are babies without all of their feathers and who cannot regulate their own heat.

Mother birds DO NOT abandon their babies if people touch them! Birds CANNOT smell human scent!

Birds' temperatures are 100°, which means they need to stay warm. Nestlings are even more vulnerable, so make a nest using a towel lined with paper towel strips and put them in a box with a heating pad (set on LOW) under the box. The heating pad may overheat the nestlings, so don't put it directly under the nest; move it off to the side.

If you know where the nest is, put the babies back into it and walk far away so the mother will return.

If you don't know where the nest is, but the mother is flying over the babies (or you holding the babies), make a nest from a berry box and line it with shredded paper towels and fasten it up into a tree. At night, bring the babies and the nest back into the house for warmth. (Check to make sure the mother isn't sitting on your nest before you bring the nest back into the house. If she is, leave it alone.)

If all else fails, call a rehabilitator. Nestlings need to be fed every half to one hour, from sunrise to sunset, so while you are locating a rehabilitator, mix 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1/4 cup of water and give the nestlings a few drops of the sugar water (or feed them small worms using tweezers). Put the eye dropper or tweezers in the back of the nestlings' open mouths. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not squirt water into the nostrils or into the front of the beak because the water will be aspirated into their lungs causing pneumonia. Nestlings need to feel a "beak" at the back of their mouths to know when to close their beaks and swallow.

You can add oat bran, strained beef baby food, egg yolks baby food to the sugar water to provide protein. The mixture needs to be thin enough to go through an eye dropper. If any food gets on the nestlings, wipe it off immediately.


Fledglings are young, fully feathered birds who leave the nest, but can not fly very well. They will hop onto branches and call to the parents for food. They will not go back to their nest. THE MAJORITY OF BIRDS PICKED UP BY PEOPLE ARE FLEDGLINGS!

Nestlings have yellow or pink beaks. Fledglings will have still have some of those colors at the corners of their beaks.

The best thing to do is to put the fledgling back into a tree, on a high and protected branch and leave it alone. It will take anywhere from 3 (Robin) to 7 (Crow) days before the fledgling will be able to completely maneuver and follow its parents.

If you do not know where the fledgling came from, then call a rehabilitator. Fledglings can regulate their own heat but need to eat every hour or two.


The bacteria in a cat's saliva will cause a infection that can kill a bird if the bird's skin has been broken. An antiseptic (hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, not alcohol) should be administered to the wound IMMEDIATELY, then call a rehabilitator.

During baby season (May through August), owners should make every effort to keep their cats indoors. Once a cat knows where there is a nest, it will kill all the babies. Cats with bells on their collars can still catch a bird because they don't move until they leap for the bird.

Click HERE for more information about the impacts that cats have on our birds.


Birds see the reflection of the trees on windows and will fly into them. Usually they are stunned and should be picked up and put into a box until they get their senses back. OPEN THE BOX OUTSIDE WHEN YOU WANT TO CHECK ON THE BIRD, OTHERWISE YOU MAY HAVE A LOOSE BIRD IN YOUR HOUSE. If a bird will perch on a stick, you can take it out and put it on a bush in a protected area. It may take a few hours or a day or so before the bird flies away.

During that time, the bird will not want food or water. If you have the bird more than 24 hours, you should offer it some sugar water with an eye dropper, gently squirting some on the side of the beak to get them to open their mouths and swallow for themselves.

window with silhouette and streamers

Several techniques have been suggested to try and prevent bird from flying into windows. One method is to put a large bird silhouette on the glass. They may think its a predator and stay away. You can make one from black construction paper or buy one at a local wildbird supply store. A send way is to hang brightly colored and/or metallic streamers across the middle of the window. The motion and color may help to keep the birds away.


Throw a towel over the bird. When they can't see, they calm down. Birds with sharp beaks may strike at shining objects (your eyes) while hawks and owls have talons that can pierce your hand.

If the bird is a hawk or owl, and if you do not have any thick gloves, throw a towel over the bird and grab the bird from behind, closing your hands around the wings. Let its talons grab at the air or the towel.

Find a box large enough for the bird to move around in and can accomodate them on a perch a couple of inches from the bottom. Punch two holes in the box a couple of inches from the bottom and push a stick through the holes for the bird to perch. The size of the stick will depend on the size of the bird. The bird should be able to completely close its foot around the stick. Put the stick in before you put the bird in the box. Make a few small holes for air to get in. Put the bird (and towel if they are still holding on to it) into the box and cover or close the box.

Keep the bird warm, away from other animals and wash your hands after handling.



Mercer County Wildlife Center          (609) 883-6606
     State Highway 29
     3 mi South of Lambertville

Cats Indoors Please! Other concerns for our feathered friends!

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Last revision: Saturday, March 21, 1998