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Fledgling birds generally don’t need a helping hand

May 9, 2011

It’s finally spring!  And that means that many FeederWatchers have switched from watching their feeders to watching the wonders of baby birds growing up. Yet, raising young isn’t easy and doesn’t always happen without incident.  Predation, disease, limited food, and bad weather are just a few of the challenges the birds must overcome in order to successfully raise their young. If you find a sick or injured baby bird, please see the All About Birds FAQs for answers on how to deal with the situation. Remember that birds often leave the nest before they are able to fly but they continue to be fed by their parents. Don’t assume that a fledgling has fallen from a nest and needs to be rescued. Chances are that the parents are nearby and are waiting for you to leave before returning to care for their chick.

American Robin nestlings. Photo by Barbara Knight.

If you do find a fledgling that is unable to fly, keep your cats and dogs indoors and let nature take its course. If the bird is injured, please remember that it is actually illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to care for a sick or injured bird, so ask for the help of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

If you are watching bird nests, we encourage you to join NestWatch, another great citizen science program at the Cornell Lab.  NestWatch, like Project FeederWatch, is a wonderful way to help scientists understand and monitor bird populations (see our blog post about NestWatch).

One Comment
  1. gerald white permalink
    May 10, 2011 12:09 am

    My brother-in-law lives across the street from us. A pair of Swallows returned to their nest on his porch a couple of weeks ago and found some Sparrows roosting in their nest. For several days they have been fighting over nesting rights. This is new to us. We had not seen this interaction before. Has anyone else witnessed this kind of behavior?

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