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What Do I Do Now?
I Found an Injured/Orphaned Bird

All native birds are protected by state and federal laws and it is illegal for the public to possess these creatures.  It is imperative that any injured or orphaned birds be brought to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator so that they can get proper care.


It is not unusual to come across a baby bird that looks like it needs rescuing. More often than not, the young should be left to the care of the parent. Many baby birds are unnecessarily "rescued". Baby birds, hopping around on the ground are called fledglings. They have left the nest and are in the process of learning to fly.

The parents continue to feed their babies on the ground. It will take several hours to a few days for the fledgling to learn to fly. During this time, bring your cat or dog indoors. Watch from a window to see if the mother is returning to feed the baby. Only rescue the bird if is in danger of stray animals, if it appears sick or injured, or is wet and cold. If the baby was caught by a cat, it needs to rescued, even if there are no visible injuries.

If the baby has very few feathers and is mostly "skin", it is a nestling. A nestling should be rescued. Call a rehabilitator immediately. Time is crucial. Depending on the circumstances, the rehabilitator may instruct you to put the baby back in the nest if possible. Check with the rehabilitator first. If the baby is cold, it will need to be re-hydrated with warm fluids by a rehabilitator.

If you have determined that the baby needs rescuing, whether fledgling or nestling, proceed by placing the baby in a small plastic container lined with paper towels, and then in a box and place in a warm area away from pets and children. You may place the box on a heating pad set on LOW. DO NOT give the bird any food or water. Call a rehabilitator.


Do not attempt to rescue an adult bird if you cannot do it safely. Do not risk injury to yourself. Call a rehabilitator.

Prepare a container. Place newspaper or paper towels in the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn't have air holes, make some. Ideally, use a container close to the size of the bird to prevent it from flailing and injuring itself further.

Protect yourself. Wear heavy gloves, if possible. Some birds may stab with their beaks, slice with their talons (claws) and slap with their wings, to protect themselves, even if sick. Birds commonly have lice and mites and can carry diseases.

Gently pick up the bird and put it in the container. Make sure talons are facing away from you. With long billed birds such as herons or pelicans, you may grasp the bill to prevent the bird from pecking.

Warm the animal if it is cold out or if the animal is chilled. Put one end of the animal's container on a heating pad set on LOW. If using a cardboard box, make sure the top is closed securely or taped shut.

Note exactly where you found the bird. This will be very important for release.

Keep the bird in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don't give the bird food or water. Leave the bird alone; don't handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away.

Contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Don't keep the bird at your home longer than necessary. Keep the bird in a container; don't let it loose in your house or car.

Wash your hands after contact with the bird. Wash anything the bird was in contact with (towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier) to prevent the spread of the disease and/or parasites to you or your pets.

It's against the law in most states to keep wild animals if you do not have permits, even if you plan to release them.

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