I've found a Baby Bird, what do I do?

Wildlife Posted Oct 17, 2023
Every year we see hundreds of baby birds brought into our RSPCA Wildlife Hospital. But did they need to come into care?

It’s not uncommon to come across small baby birds on the ground during spring. In most cases, these fledgling birds are being closely monitored by their nearby parents. This is a normal process as the young birds learn how to take flight. In some instances, the baby bird may be in danger or may be injured and genuinely needs your help. But how can you tell when to intervene and when to leave the baby bird?

Download or print this baby bird rescue guide and follow these steps to help you determine the best way to handle the situation.

Is the baby bird a nestling or a fledgling?

Does the bird have feathers? If it only has fluffy down or no feathers, it is a is a nestling and needs help straight away as it cannot keep itself warm.

If you find a nestling, please take it to your nearest vet, bring it to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in Brisbane or Eumundi, or call our 24/7 Hotline 1300 ANIMAL.

If the bird has its flight feathers, then it is a fledgling. Before rescuing a fledgling, ask yourself:

  • Is the bird calling or making a noise?
  • Is the bird bright and responsive?
  • Can the bird perch on your finger?
  • Can the bird spread its wings evenly and flutter to the ground when encouraged to fly?

If the answer to all of these questions is a definite “yes” then the baby bird should be able to be reunited with its parents. It is best for a baby bird to be reunited with its parents, as they’re the best teachers for their young.

How to reunite a baby bird with its parents

To try to reunite the baby bird with its parents, place the bird on a low branch in a bush and watch to see if the parents come to feed it.

You can also place the baby bird in a bucket with a few drainage holes. The ‘home-away-from-home’ will protect fledglings and baby birds from predators. See below how to make a baby bird bucket…

Unsure what to do?

Call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for advice. Our team can help you with the next steps when you’ve found a baby bird.

What baby bird is that?

You may be interested to learn more about common baby birds found in Queensland, check out our blog here.

How to help baby birds this season

  1. Keep your cats and dogs secure on your property. Cats are safest indoors or in secure outdoor enclosures so they can’t stumble across baby birds.
  2. Plant Australian native trees in your yard. Bushy indigenous shrubs and ground cover provide protection and camouflage for birds. This will help increase the survival rate of young birds and will significantly reduce the injury and mortality rates of all wildlife species. 
  3. Call 1300 ANIMAL if you find any sick or injured wildlife or baby birds without any parents that are too young to survive on their own.

Australia is home to many native bird species, many of which can be found in your own backyard! Baby birds are one of two types. Altricial chicks, such as magpies, parrots, raptors and honeyeaters, remain in their nests until old enough to leave. Precocial chicks, such as ducks, brush turkeys, moorhens and plovers, remain with their parents until complete independence.

Did you know? As soon as Brush Turkeys are born they are completely independent to their parents. They don’t need help rescuing unless they appear sick or injured - they’re already making their way in the world on their own at this stage.

Construct a bird bucket

If you find a baby bird that needs to be reunited with its parents, you can construct a "bird bucket" to keep the baby safe until its parents return. See below for a step-by-step guide: 

  1. Find an old plastic bucket, ice-cream container or plant pot, and punch several holes in the underside.
  2. In the bottom of  your plastic container, set down a layer of grass or leaves, so that the baby bird has some warm and comfortable bedding to rest on.
  3. In order to assist the parents getting in and out, place a stick in the container at an angle, and secure it using one of the holes.
  4. Place the baby bird inside the container. The bucket should be hung close to where the baby was found, in a tree or a bush, out of direct sunlight and away from predators.
  5. Keep an eye on the bird in the bucket, and make sure the parents return before dark to tend the baby’s needs. If the parents do not return, the baby bird will need to be placed into care.

A recent Baby Bird Rescue

RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer Chantelle went to two jobs on the same day last week for baby birds that had fallen out of trees!

A concerned member of the public called our 1300 ANIMAL hotline after spotting two baby birds at the base of a tree with no nest in sight.

Chantelle spotted the pair and made a baby bird bucket so their parents could return to the chicks in a new, secure home.

Her second rescue for the day, Chantelle found a baby bird on the ground, still sitting in its nest! It clearly had been blown out of the tree. After a quick check up to ensure the baby bird wasn’t injured, Chantelle was able to secure the original nest back in a safer spot in the tree with the chick back in place.

If you see any animal in need of rescue, contact our 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL.

Emma Lagoon
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