What To Do If You Find A  Baby Bird

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Being a baby bird is hard and seems very confusing especially to humans.    Birds are hatched naked or with downy feathers and need their parents to help them learn so many skills including food identification, social behavior, and how to fly.  Sometimes we encounter them during these early days but to our surprise they’re on the ground instead of in a tree.  This can be normal especially as the babies grow and start to stretch their wings.  Fledglings can walk, hop, and flap short flights.  Their parents will watch and care for them still but this is an important time for the young ones to learn how to navigate their world.

Younger birds that are still covered in down or just starting to grow “real” feathers are called nestlings.  They may need a little assistance returning to the nest if they’re found on the ground.  If the nest is too high or had fallen, a “nest” can be made out of a coffee can, strawberry basket, or other small, bowl-shaped container with dry grass lining and then set in a high place.  The parents will come back to the nestlings cries though they’ll wait until the area is safe and quiet.  Parental care prepares the nestlings for survival in the wild more than captive-rearing.

Wesselman Woods is not a rehabilitation facility and cannot receive injured/orphaned animals.  If the bird is injured, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  Many avian species are protected by state and federal law so they cannot be taken out of the wild without a permit.
There are many ways to help your local bird population as a whole.

—  Adding native plants to your yard provides shelter and food in the way of fruit, nuts, and especially insects.  This also benefits migratory birds by providing a “refueling station” on their long journeys.  Check out the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society and Audubon’s Plants for Birds for some great info!

—  Some birds prefer to nest in tree hollows but these natural features can be scarce.  Setting up a simple nest box and letting old trees stand can help these cavity nesters.  There are many nest box building plans online that would make a great weekend project!  Don’t be discouraged if tenants don’t move in immediately.  Many birds start looking for homes in late winter and early spring.

—  Dogs and cats pose a real threat to birds and other wildlife especially babies.  Keep them indoors or supervise them when outside.

Pip, the Mississippi Kite

When the sun is just right, Pip will spread her wings and puff up her feathers with her back to the light.  Sunbathing can be done early in the day or when it’s cold to help warm the bird up.  It can be done after rain or dewy mornings to help the bird dry their plumage so they don’t be weighed down with extra water.

Sunbathing feels great but it is also aids in feather maintenance!  The extra heat drives feather parasites to places where the birds can reach and preen (groom) them out.  These parasites can chew up feathers which compromise flight, insulation, and appearance.  Many birds preen after sunning to condition feathers to be waterproof and flexible.   They produce an oil that is easier to distribute when the oil is warmed.  This preening oil also contains compounds which will be turned into vitamin D (important for good health) in the presence of UV.

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