What to do if You've Found a Baby Bird in Your Yard

If you’ve found a bird in distress, please check the following information. Baby birds normally jump from the nest BEFORE they can fly. Fledgling birds are identifiable by their “ruffled” appearance; they will have feathers sticking out all over their bodies. The nest simply isn’t  big enough to hold all the whole family as all the babies grow simultaneously. As a result, fledglings jump to the ground and spread out; mom and dad fly from baby to baby, feeding them on the ground until the rest of their feathers grow in and they learn to fly.

This is a dangerous time for baby birds, but every wild bird goes through this phase. If you see a baby bird chirping on the ground, please leave it there. If you want to monitor the situation, please observe from a distance that allows parent birds to access the grounded fledgling — or, if the young bird is in a danger zone, relocate it a safe short distance away. If you have dogs or cats that may harm the fledglings, please try to keep them under control for several days until the baby birds have moved on.

Birds do not react negatively if humans touch their babies, so if you’ve taken the bird inside while searching for help (or finding this information), it is okay to take it back out to where you found it. The parents will NOT reject a baby simply because a human has touched it. Fallen nests can also be replaced in the general vicinity, and the parent birds will find it.  However, if you’ve had the bird inside for over an hour, the parents may have given up trying to locate it; in this case you may have to find a rehabilitator to finish caring for the animal. We recommend PAWS Animal Wildlife Sanctuary out of Anderson, SC.  Their phone number is (864) 715-2171.

Any bird that has come in contact with the mouth of a cat or dog MUST be taken in for proper care. Domestic animals — especially cats — have very high oral bacteria counts; the smallest bite can prove deadly for a bird. Domestic and feral cats are NOT natural predators in North America, and have devastating effects on wild bird populations. Please do your best to keep your cats indoors, and take any birds they might contact outdoors to a licensed rehabilitator.