Calls About Fledgling Birds

Because we have such a shortage of bird rehabbers, we need to be able to try to assess the situation before referring the public to them. Fledgling time is starting for the first clutch of baby birds. Fledgling birds are babies who have just left the nest. They are not able to completely fly away yet. They usually stay in a low bush or on the ground. The parents will continue to feed the baby if left undisturbed. The public often finds them and thinks they are orphaned or fell out of the nest. Please do the following:

1. Be sure that the bird is not injured or has been in contact with a cat. If either of these is true,
it must go to a rehabber.

2. If the fledgling appears uninjured, please ask questions about the following to determine if the bird
is being cared for by the parents:

a. If the bird is producing droppings, the parents are feeding it and they should leave it alone.

b. If they have moved the baby, they should return it to where they found it and monitor the situation.
Remind the public NOT to feed the bird or give it water—birds have very specific diets. They can place the bird in a low bush or some protection if possible but not to obscure it from view of the parents. However, if they have had the baby for a day or two, it will have to go to a rehabber.

c. Once they return the bird, they should listen and look to hear or see if the parent birds are in the area.
d. They should observe from a distance to see if the parents have found the baby. I can’t give a definite time frame but they need to observe more than a few minutes. Probably an hour or more.

e. They should keep cats and dogs away from the area for several days.

The parents will care for the babies until they are completely independent. They can do a much better job than any human can.

Wildlife Rescue League - Viriginia
Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800
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