Rescue - What to Do When Kids Bring Home a Baby Bird
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/23/2006 | Hobbies
Have your children ever brought you a baby bird that they found helpless on the ground? Bringing it into your home and feeding it seems like the right thing to do, but it may actually cause more harm than good.
Find out how to handle the situation and take this opportunity to educate your children about nature. You will not only teach them about the natural world, but more importantly you'll instill in them a respect for that world.
"What Should We Do If We Find a Baby Bird?"
Many wild baby birds are able to leave the nest before they can fly or find their own food. It is a normal part of their life and are best left undisturbed.
If you or your children find a young bird on the ground, rest assured the parents are likely near by. They are watching over it and bringing it food.
The main danger for a baby bird that has fallen out of the tree is from cats and squirrels. If you want to help you might find a bush or tree nearby and help the bird find a comfortable footing on the branches, out of the reach of children. If you cannot locate the original nest any bush will do. The parents will locate the baby by its cries.
Despite the common belief that a parent bird will not return to a baby after human contact, birds in general have a poor sense of smell. Your presence will deter the parents, but your smell should not.
Handle the baby carefully but firmly so it does not fall out of your hands when struggling. If the bird is very young and without many feathers you should try to put it back in the nest. If the nest is destroyed you can create one by lining a plastic basket with the remnants of the original nest or with dry grass and leaves. Make sure the nest has holes in the bottom to prevent it from filling up with water. Secure the nest with wire if you do not find a suitable branch.
"What If It's Injured?"
If the baby bird is injured and in danger you can collect it carefully and keep it warm with a towel. Do not feed it as baby birds can easily get liquid in their lungs without using a proper feeding technique.
In the US it is actually illegal for you to care for a wild bird, and without proper training you wouldn't be able to anyway. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator who will take over care of the bird. Keep it warm and in a quiet area until they arrive.
Explain to your children what to do in the future when they find a baby bird. Let them be 'guardians' and watch to see the parents care for the baby while they look out for lurking cats or squirrels to chase away. They will appreciate knowing that even baby birds have parents that take care of them.