Found a baby bird on the ground? Here’s what to do

Apr 18, 2023, 10:00 AM

Here's what to do if you find a baby bird on the ground: If the bird is small and featherless, it's...



SALT LAKE CITY — Spring is here, and with it the joy of seeing baby birds hatching and making their first moves in the world. And right now it’s not uncommon to come across a baby bird on the ground.

While it may be tempting to intervene, it’s essential to know the proper steps to ensure the bird’s well-being.

“Baby birds usually chirp and call from the nest, waiting for their parents to bring food to them — and sometimes they get excited or agitated, which results in them falling from their perch,” said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird Coordinator Heather Talley.

Here’s what to do if you find a baby bird on the ground:

  • If the bird is small and featherless, it’s best to place it back in its nest. If you can’t locate the nest, you can put the bird on a branch out of reach of dogs and cats. “The baby will squawk, and its parents will find it,” says Talley. And as most birds do not have a keen sense of smell, the parents won’t be deterred by your handling.

However, it’s important to note that taking a baby bird home is against the law in Utah, as most birds are protected by state and federal laws and require special permits for possession.

  • If the baby bird has feathers and is hopping around, it’s likely a fledgling, which is almost ready for its first flight. These young birds have most of their flight feathers and are in the process of learning to fly. If the fledgling is not in immediate danger, it’s best to leave it where you found it.

If you believe the fledgling is in immediate danger, you can carefully move it to a safer spot nearby. However, if you can’t catch the bird, it’s best to leave it alone.

  • While it’s natural for the bird’s parents to feed it, you should refrain from attempting to feed it yourself. Birds have a specific diet, and feeding them something that’s not part of their natural diet can harm or even kill them.
  • It’s important to avoid bothering or moving bird nests that have eggs or baby birds in them. It’s against the law to disturb nests with eggs or baby birds, and you can face citations for doing so. If you want to prevent birds from nesting on your property, you need to take measures before nesting season begins.
  • If you encounter a baby duckling on the ground, avoid interfering at all (unless it’s facing imminent danger, like being trapped in a storm drain or swimming pool. In such situations, it’s advisable to seek help from the nearest DWR office for appropriate assistance.)

For more information about how to safely handle a baby bird encounter, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


In this remote camera image released by Friends of Big Bear Valley, are a pair of bald eagles stand...

Associated Press

Hatch watch is underway at a California bald eagle nest monitored by a popular online camera feed

Southern California Mountains has an eagle laying on her eggs while people watch to see the eggs hatch from a video on their devices.

2 days ago

FILE: Jerry Monson helps his grandson Logan Webb with his orange while in camp above the Strawberry...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Bill would reduce amount of orange Utah hunters must wear

A bill would reduce the amount of orange required by hunters.

3 days ago

Endangered Utah butterfly...

Ashley Imlay, KSL.com

Rare Utah butterfly lands on list of species at risk of extinction

A petition to list the Utah butterfly as threatened was submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service more than 10 years ago.

6 days ago

Motorists travel under a wildlife crossing bridge spanning I-80 in Parleys Canyon on Tuesday, Oct. ...

Mariah Maynes

Save People Save Wildlife urges creation of wildlife passageway on SR 224

Save People Save Wildlife has urged Park City's council to add a wildlife passageway on S.R. 224 to its 2024 strategic plan. The organization presented its case to the council on February 15. 

12 days ago

Natural Resources...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Division of Natural Resources wants to combine police agencies

The Utah Division of Natural Resources is seeking to combine its four law enforcements agencies into one unit.

12 days ago

A mountain lion first seen on the campus of USU on Tuesday morning later made their way to a nearby...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Mountain lion spotted at USU on Tuesday was found, captured

The mountain lion was first spotted on the USU campus, lounging in a tree near the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Found a baby bird on the ground? Here’s what to do