Help, I found a baby bird.

This bird was hiding in the suspension of a coworkers vehicle after he returned from lunch.

http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/8283/img20120718133930.jpg

I don’t think it can fly yet, but it hops and flaps. I put some water and cracker crumbs in the box but that isn’t regurgitated worms like momma used to make and he hasn’t done anything but sit and stare at the wall.

What do I do? Feed it with a medicine dropper for a couple days until it flies away? Turn it loose in the woods?

I raised and weaned a bird once long ago that had fallen out of the nest and broken her leg. We set it, but it never fully healed properly. Still, she grew up quite happy and healthy and to this day was the most beloved of my pets.

Other people will tell you whether you should do this or not. I will tell you, it’s a LOT of work. You need medicine dropper feedings every two hours. The bird needs a lot of attention and care. That is of course for a very young baby. I can’t tell how old your one is., but it probably won’t eat crackers. (Crackers? It’s not a Polly parrot!)

I loved my Bird (that was her name, honest) but I’d probably never do it again.

I don’t want to keep it as a pet, I just want it to survive

Call a wildlife rehabilitator in your area – such people are knowledgeable (and usually licensed). The rehabber will probably be willing to take in the foundling, but might also give you advice on feeding young/baby birds. In a pinch, you can buy “mash” in pet stores, which gets mixed with water, warmed, and fed through a syringe or eyedropper (as they get more mature, birds can learn to eat mash from a spoon too).

Google “wildlife rehabilitator” and your location for starters.

Based on the color, the dark bar across the eye area, and the white flash on the wing, I’ll guess that you’re looking at a fledgling mockingbird.

Here’s a site with pictures and some information.

If the back is actually blue, as it appears, it could be a young male Cerulean Warbler (though it’s hard to tell on a bird so young). It’s a bit surprising that it would have been able to get into the suspension.

If it’s that mobile, it’s probably a matter of days from fledging. That’s good news. The survival rate will be better than for very young nestlings.

First, I would contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice. If you do try to raise it yourself, you will have to feed it by hand, preferably with insects (if you can get them) or finely ground meat.

This site has instructions about how to raise a baby bird.

Thanks for all the info but I think we found his mom and got him home. I can’t type much now, I’ll update this later.

Usually when you see a baby bird on the ground, it is undergoing flight lessons, and its mother is nearby, watching and hoping you’ll leave her student alone.

I was guessing blue jay…

That’s the best solution. Not too many people want to feed a baby bird every 20 minutes…

I don’t think so. They have a different pattern of white in the wings.

I had discounted Mockingbird because of the blue color, but it looks like the babies can show a blue tint.

A couple of people at work said it looked like a Mockingbird, and now that I look at photos, I agree. It may have been a little blue, but I think it was more black than blue, the phone just brought out more blue.

Anyway, here’s what happened. It actually turns out a little funny, at least funny for a baby bird story, which aren’t known for being hilarious.

I came back from lunch and pulled into a parking spot at the same time as another guy. As I got out, I head a chirp under his car. We started looking and saw the bird sort of wedged in his suspension. He had to drive somewhere soon so we really had to get it out. We thought it was hurt and in the two minutes it took for us to find a box to put it in, it had fallen asleep in my hands and I thought it had died. It woke up when we put it in the box, but it seemed tired/unhealthy/traumatized and I think it must have been on the most terrifying ride of his life. Plus it was raining and it was soaking wet. It really looked bad.

I checked it a few times during the day and mostly slept and pooped. I didn’t think it would eat crackers but that’s all I had. By the time I realized you have to feed them every two hours, it had been in the box for three, and it would be three more until I could get suitable food. He had really gotten some energy back, so I decided to let him go and watch him. If he didn’t act normal, I’d chase him down, rebox him, and try to help. If he seemed ok, he was on his own.

He hopped out and eventually hopped to a bush.

A few minutes later I was walking toward the bush to see if he was ok. My boss walked by and said, and I quote “There was a momma mockingbird right there earlier acting funny, walking around like she was looking for something.”

Really? He knew I had a baby mockingbird in a box but didn’t think to mention that? I don’t know how he determined that it was looking for something, but the presence of another mockingbird acting strange seems pretty relevant.

I tried to look in the bush but it was too thick and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a big bird chirping and a little chirp that sounded like my little buddy, no doubt saying “Thanks for all your help. The food, the shelter, everything you did for me. Although I didn’t appreciate them at the time, I now realize your good intentions, and while we didn’t spend much time together, I am eternally grateful for having known you. You know, some people think the word ‘hero’ is thrown around a little too often. All I gotta say to that is… they haven’t met you.”

Hey, these are his words, not mine. Pshaw! I’m blushing over here.

So as i walked back inside, the guy who works right beside me and who I talk to constantly all day long asked if my mockingbird went in that bush. “Yeah, I think that’s where his home was after all.”

“Yeah, there’s been a mockingbird hopping around like mad out there all afternoon like it was looking for something. I was wondering what it’s deal was. Musta been it’s mom.”

Really? Two people? Just keeping mum, huh?

I’ve always heard that parent birds will abandon fledglings who have been handled by humans. Any truth to that, Colibri?

This. Last year a baby bird was on the ground in the front yard. Poor thing looked scared and shaking, scared of flying probably. After a while mama got it back up and gave it courage and several days later the whole family was flying around.

I’m not Colibri but I have some expertise in this. Few birds have any sense of smell, and regardless, none will abandon their offspring simply because of human odors. Think about it – if mothers abandoned their kids just because they smelled funny, none of us would be here today.

Colibri’s link above is pretty accurate (although I might pick a few nits, they aren’t important to this discussion) and the emphasis is correct. First, put it back, and leave it alone! Second, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice and - maybe - help. Third— well, there is no third. “Do it yourself” comes in down near 99 on the list.

Great the little mocker is back with his mom! We often tell people that we’re good, even damn good, but nowhere near as good as an animal’s real parents. That is always the preferred scenario.

As CannyDan says, that’s a myth. Birds are most likely to abandon a nest if it is disturbed (not necessarily touched) in the egg stage, before they have invested too much energy in that clutch. By the time that the young get to the fledgling stage, the adults will be very possessive and very reluctant to abandon them even under extreme provocation.

As has been said, the best thing to do if you find a baby bird is to try to put it back in the nest, or if it has jumped out in a tree or bush where the parents can find it and feed it. Make every effort to do so before taking it away. (The fact that it was raining in this case made it a good idea to at least get it into shelter and dried out first, and then look for the parents later.) Trying to raise a baby bird takes a lot of effort, and usually has a small chance of success.

Thanks, Colibri.

As discussed up thread, dietary issues are one aspect of that “small chance of success”. Another problematic aspect is that of imprinting. Animals (not just birds) adopt appropriate species specific social skills and species self identification in large part through their association with their parents. Babies raised by humans, fed by humans, and introduced to the household noises, activities, children, and domestic pets may imprint falsely onto humans. This will produce an animal that, even if physically well developed, will never fit into its species’ wild society.

Temporary assistance, like returning it to the parents, or into nearby protective bushes or the like is one thing, and is probably either benign or actually beneficial. Taking it home to raise is not. This action should be a last choice, after all other possibilities have been ruled out. Again, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice. It need not even be a local rehabber for this consultation, as the general circumstance is broadly applicable. And if rescue is deemed appropriate, that rehabber can probably help you find a colleague in your area.

Thanks, guys!