Baby birds are often found on the ground during the first few days after they leave the nest. During this time when they are learning to use their wings, many caring by-standers think that these baby birds are in trouble and come to their rescue. Often the best thing for these birds is to leave them alone or reunite them with their family. Each species has individual needs and if possible babies should be raised by their parents; no person can show a baby bird all the things it needs to know.
However, if the baby bird is sick or injured it requires human help. Here are a few questions which will help you to determine if the bird needs to see a vet or wildlife carer:
- Does the baby bird have developing flight feathers, or does it only have pin feathers or down? Nestlings with only pin feathers or down cannot keep themselves warm, so they will need to be brought into care as soon as possible.
- Is the baby bird calling or making a noise?
- Is the baby bird bright and responsive?
- Can the baby bird perch on your finger?
- Can the baby bird spread its wings evenly and flutter to the ground when encouraged to fly?
- Is the baby bird in a safe area?
If the answer to these last five questions is YES, then the baby bird can usually be reunited with its parents. If any of the answers are NO then it needs to have a health assessment from a veterinarian or experienced wildlife carer.
Often baby birds do not require to be placed in a nest to be reunited with their family. They are learning to fly and will simply jump out of the nest again. Place the baby bird on a low branch in a bush or tree and watch carefully to see if the parents come to feed it. Stand back and take any domestic animals inside so that the parents have every chance to come back to their baby. If this does not happen within an hour then the bird needs to be brought to a veterinarian, wildlife carer or to your local RSPCA Animal Care Centre.
If you are not able to stay to observe the baby bird or the baby bird is in imminent danger, you will need to bring it into care. Do not leave it unattended as it could be attacked by other animals. To transport the baby, place it on a towel in a small box and keep it warm, dark and quiet.
It is important to note that bush turkey chicks are not lost or orphaned; they do not receive any parental care after hatching. These babies need to be left alone to disperse on their own accord, unless of course if they appear to be sick or injured.
Raising wildlife is a specialised task that requires a special wildlife rehabilitation permit; it is against the law to keep wildlife without a permit.
Where can I get help?
Take the young bird to your local veterinarian, wildlife group or call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for assistance.