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What to do if you find a baby bird out of the nest

SALT LAKE CITY — Days are warming up a bit and concurrently, baby birds are hatching. And it’s not uncommon to come across a juvenile who has fallen out of the nest.

So what do you do if you find one?

I found a baby bird. Now what? 

Take a good look. Do you see signs of injury? In other words, can you see blood, or a broken bone? If so,  you can call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah  (WRC) at 801-814-7888. They might be able to take it in.

It’s okay to touch the bird. According to the WRC, the idea that touching and leaving a human scent on the bird will make the bird unappealing to its parents is a myth. Like humans, all babies like to be touched.

If the bird is not injured, determine whether it has feathers. A baby bird with feathers hopping around on the ground is normal. If it’s safe from dogs and cats, your job is done. See other animals that could pose a threat? Place the bird on a low tree branch or in nearby shrubbery and leave the area.

This leads to what you should do if the bird you’ve seen on the ground has no feathers — scoop it up. If the bird is warm and you can find the nest, place the bird back in the nest.  If you can’t find it, call the WRC.

Here is a flowchart of how to determine if a bird needs help and what to do if it does.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the WRC and Wild Aware Utah all advise against taking a baby bird home with you. Also, do not feed it.


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