Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What to do if you find a baby bird...

This is a re-posting from last year, and a good reminder in case you come across a baby bird or a nest while working in the yard...


Did you know that migratory birds are protected by the federal government? The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA 16 USC 707) protects birds, nests and eggs. Generally, all wild birds except house sparrows, starlings, rock pigeons, monk parakeets and non-migratory (upland) game birds fall under this treaty.

Intentionally harming protected birds or disturbing their nests and/or eggs is a misdemeanor and comes with a very steep fine of $15,000 per bird, 6 months in prison, and/or strict liability. (Commercialization of these birds is a felony and comes with a fine of $500,000 per bird, 2 years in prison, and/or strict liability.)

As our feathered friends begin nesting, please be extra careful when trimming your trees, exploring nature with your family, and allowing cats to roam outdoors. It is especially important to teach your children not to remove nests, eggs, or baby birds from trees.

The local website Wild Wing Rescue has a lot of good information on what to do if you find a baby bird.

Top priority is to find the nest and return the baby (if the baby is healthy). Watch from a distance to see if the bird's parent returns. This could take at least an hour, so be patient. Birds have a very poor sense of smell, and cannot tell if humans have touched their chick.

If the baby is a nestling (has skin showing), it cannot survive on its own or in a box. It must be returned to its nest. If that is not possible, it should be kept very warm with a cloth and a hot water bottle (or a latex glove filled with warm water)and taken to a trained rehabilitator immediately. It is best not to feed baby birds.

It is fairly common to see fledglings (fully feathered) hopping around on the ground alone. This is how they learn to fend for themselves. Observe the fledging from a distance and remove anything that might cause it immediate danger, like a cat. Chances are its parents will come find it within an hour.

If a bird is injured, then it needs to be rescued immediately. Here's what to look for:

• Failure to flee or sleeping when approached

• Found lying around or in the mouth of a cat or dog

• Acting confused or dazed

• Bleeding or drooping, hanging wing, or one held higher than the other

• Staggering or limping

• Difficulty controlling head and neck

• Crusty eyes or beak

• Missing or matted feathers

April through August is a busy time of year for Wild Wings Rescue. Birds are accepted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., everyday including holidays. Please call every 10 minutes until you reach them. Unfortunately, they are unable to do pickups. During power outages, the bird may be brought directly to Wild Wings Rescue if you can't reach them by phone. Never leave an animal in a box outside their door unattended.

Wild Wings Rescue
2299 Jefferson Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 725-7015

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