Found a baby bird? Here’s what to do

When uncertain about handling a situation involving wildlife, reach out to a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance.

When uncertain about handling a situation involving wildlife, reach out to a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance.


Monitor staff

Published: 05-10-2024 2:42 PM

It is that time of year when vibrant flowers start to bloom, painting landscapes with their colors, and the air is filled with the sweet melodies of songbirds, that encounters with abandoned baby birds or squirrels on the ground become more common.

Offering guidance for those who come across these delicate creatures in spring, Maria Colby, a wildlife rehabilitator at Henniker Wings of Dawn with 37 years of experience, shares her expertise.

It is advisable that if you spot a baby bird and can see its nest, try to return the bird to its nest. If reaching the nest proves too difficult, Colby suggests two options. One is to bring the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator, and the other is to let nature take its course.

“Most birds are protected, and we don’t recommend people picking up a bird and trying to raise it themselves,” said Colby.

While it may be instinctive for people to feed or provide water to birds they find, she strictly advises against it. Birds typically do not drink water; they obtain their hydration from the food they consume.

“People often do things that are inappropriate for the birds, and they end up causing more harm than good,” explained Colby, emphasizing that this advice applies to other animals.

Sometimes, when birds fall to the ground, it is part of their learning to fly. Unlike robins and blue jays, not all birds are fledglings, and most species spend a day or two on the ground before mastering flight.

Colby suggests that people keep their cats indoors to prevent them from preying on vulnerable birds.

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During spring, her rehabilitation center frequently receives reports of dogs disturbing rabbit holes and even eating baby rabbits.

Colby advises dog owners to take preventive measures, such as strategically obstructing access to rabbit holes on their property, to protect the rabbits from their pets.

Spring is also the season when raccoons have their offspring, often in hollow trees, and logs, but they have adapted to utilize barns, attics, sheds, decks, and any other warm and secure locations for their young.

It is best to seek expert assistance in removing raccoons from residential areas and ensuring measures are taken to prevent the parent from returning and nesting there, she said.

While Colby has received calls for assistance with a wide array of animals, ranging from emus to possums to turtles, she finds that well-intentioned individuals sometimes inadvertently mishandle situations.

“People want to help,” Colby explained based on her observations over the years. “But really a lot of times, it’s just leaving the animal alone and watching to see what’s going on. Let nature take its course.”

Her overarching advice: When uncertain about handling a situation involving wildlife, reach out to a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance.

For those in need of assistance, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department maintains a comprehensive list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that individuals can contact