What to do if you find a baby bird
Apr 17, 2023, 11:24 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — Springtime is usually synonymous with baby animals. Since birds are hatching and many are attempting to leave the nest for the first time, it’s not unusual to find a baby bird on the ground during this time of year. Some are also blown from their nests in spring storms.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are reminding people what to do when finding a baby bird.
The most common baby birds that people find are robins (which nest in trees) and swallows (which build their mud nests in eaves and on the sides of houses).
So what do you do when you find one of these birds on the ground?
Put it back in the nest if it doesn’t have feathers
If the bird is very small and still featherless, you should place it back in its nest. If you can’t find the nest, put the bird on a branch safely out of reach of dogs and cats.
“The baby will squawk, and its parents will find it,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird Coordinator Heather Talley said.
While some other wildlife species could get your scent when touched, you don’t need to be concerned about leaving your scent ono the bird. Most birds do not have a good sense of smell so if you pick up a baby bird, its parents won’t even know you’ve handled it.
However, never take a baby bird home. It is against the law in Utah to possess wild animals without special permits.
Leave it alone if it has feathers
If the bird isn’t in danger where it is, leave it where you found it. The “hopping” stage typically lasts two to five days and is part of the natural process for a baby bird before it takes its first flight.
At that point the parents are watching the baby bird and are still feeding it.
Don’t feed the bird
Don’t attempt to give it food. Birds have a very specific diet and feeding them something that’s not part of their diet can kill them.
“While robins and some bird species can safely eat worms, others can’t,” Talley said. “So don’t try to feed baby birds or other wildlife that you encounter. You may think you are ‘helping’ them, but it usually does more harm than good.”
Don’t bother or move bird nests that have eggs or baby birds in them
While bird species that nest in the eaves of buildings may seem like a nuisance, it’s unlawful to disturb nests that have eggs or baby birds, and you can be cited for doing so.
What to do with baby ducks
If you do discover a duckling in a storm drain, you can contact the nearest DWR office to report it or contact your city officials.
If you see a group of five or more dead birds, report it to the nearest DWR office. Make sure you don’t touch the birds or pick them up.