Help me help the little birdie!

My sons found a lost hatchling next to the maintenance room of our apartment complex. After some careful looking and listening, I found the nest it fell from-inside an electrical junction box on the outside of the building. There’s a hole in the bottom to facilitate the placement of a lot more wires than are currently in use, through which the mother presumably slipped in to build the nest & lay the eggs. And feed the babies, I hope-I can hear them complaining in there …

Any suggestions? I don’t want to leave the little one out there to die. It’s probably only a couple of days old. (sniff) But I know that messing with it makes it likely that the mother will reject it. And I’m not all that keen on raising a sparrow from a hatchling …

Thanks in advance for any useful thoughts.

Find the nest, put it back if you can. The mother will take it. Cecil did a colum on this (my question!). Otherwise, its doomed. You can feed it bugs and fruit and stuff, but it won’t make it. The wife and I have tried to “save” a few that got booted from the nests with a zero sucess rate. However, I did relocate a nest full of little fellas from my garage and the momma bird found it and moved back in. Putting it back with the mother is about the only chance it has. Sorry to pee on your Wheaties.

Never kiss and animal that can lick it’s own butt.

We did actually raise an orphaned bluejay chick to maturity and even taught the thing to fly! I was young at the time and don’t remember all the details, but we did eventually let him go. I don’t remember what we fed him, but my mom had gotten advice from our veterinarian.

If you handle baby birds, will their parents shun them?

Contact a local chapter of a conservation group (for example, the National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, et al - most national offices can be found on the internet and can give you information on local chapters), a local veterinarian, (non-emergency) local police (not 911) or local animal control officers. Some (not all) may have information on nearby licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

Please note the emphasis on licensed - as a former employee and volunteer for one of the large national groups, I’ve seen the damage first hand what well-meaning but misguided folks can do. Baby critters, especially birds, grow very quickly, require lots of feedings and the right nutrition. Bread soaked in milk, chicken livers, oatmeal, shrimp, ice cream, and cockroaches picked up from the floor of your house (prolly full of Raid, by the way) do not necessaily cut it for a growing bird.

Also, please do not yell at your veterinarian if s/he will not treat the bird. Most veterinarians are trained to treat domestic pets, not wild birds. Even if s/he handles a lot of pet birds, this training does not necessarily translate to knowledge of wild birds. And if s/he does take the case, pay the bill. Examinations, x-rays, drugs, anesthesia, and the time for follow-up care cost money, and takes time away from his/her regular patients.

In general, if you do find a licensed rehabilitator to care for the critter, please leave a donation (ask if they need supplies** or just leave a money donation). In many cases. they are taking time out of their lives, away from their families, and paying for supplies out of their own pocket with NO reimbursement from anyone. This time of year being baby bird season, it gets especially stressful both on the nerves and the wallet.

** things like paper towels, cleaning supplies, bird food, newspapers (for the bottom of cages), garbage bags, etc.
Best to remember:

  1. Put the tiny babies back in the nest if possible. Chances are the parent is nearby, and will continue to care for the critter. If it’s on the ground fluttering around, chances are it’s learning how to use its wings.

  2. If there is absolutely no parental activity for a couple of hours, contact a licensed rehabilitator for guidance.

  3. If you absolutely have to handle the bird (if it wanders too near the road, or you are replacing it in the nest or a thick shrubbery to hide from cats), wear gloves and handle the critter gently. If possible, wear a sturdy hat in case mom or dad are nearby are appear out of nowhere to aggressively protect their offspring. They have no idea you want to help. Ask me about the scar on the back of my head from a mockingbird attack when I accidentally got too near a nest of babies. “If looks could kill” has nothing on the beaking ability of a torqued-off mockingbird (although getting the evil eye from said bird wasn’t pleasant either).

  4. Keep the kids and pets indoors for the time being. Both are innately curious, and the presence of either may keep the parent at a distance or may invite an attack as above. (Please don’t blame the bird if your kid or critter is attacked by a parent bird - how would you feel if a 50-foot tall creature who did not speak your language started messing with your offspring and you had no inklings of its intentions, whether good or bad?)

  5. Wash your hands. Always a good idea.

yours truly,
screech- (now relinquishing the soap box for other uses) owl

Q.E.D., why would you help a bluejay! I hate those things.

Anyhoo, I once poked a bird back into its nest with a stick. It was just hatched and still naked and everything and was about to fall out of the nest. Stupid bird. It managed to live and fly away eventually.

In case you can’t tell, I hate birds. Blazing fast alien dinosaur hell demons is what they are. They do eat bugs, though, so they’re not completely useless. And they’re tasty, too.

Yeah, putting back in the nest was my first thought-but when I finally found it, I couldn’t get to it. (The entry hole was too small, and the junction box was locked up. Clever mama! There’s no shortage of roaming housecats around here-but they won’t get in there!)

It wasn’t trying to use its wings, I don’t think. It was mainly just lying there breathing, and occaisonally squirming a bit. It didn’t even have feathers yet, and I’m not sure if its eyes were open. I haven’t seen birds hatch, but I can’t imagine this one was more than a few days old.

Didn’t know Uncle Cec had written a piece on this. Glad my kids had the good sense not to touch it, and for the right reasons, too.

Maintenance could have unlocked the box for me this morning, but the baby was already gone. Either someone else tried to rescue it, or one of the cats got it. I have a good guess which. And I wish my neighbors would keep their cats inside. :mad: I have two myself, but they don’t go out unsupervised, thank you very much.

Damn, I wish I’d seen this sooner. They can sometimes be saved, SC. See my post in this thread. Sorry the link to the picture doesn’t work any more.