Most birdwatchers who find a young bird automatically want to care and feed the bird. It is strongly recommended that you not do this. You are more likely to do more harm than good.
Instead, examine the bird for injuries. If hurt, take it to a local veterinarian or call your local conservation department for the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
Uninjured Baby Birds
If you find an uninjured baby bird you will need to determine whether or not it is really an orphaned bird. The best way is to determine if it is a nestling or a fledgling. Most young birds that are found are really just young fledglings that can’t fly well.
In order to determine whether the bird is a nestling or a fledgling allow the baby bird to perch on your finger. If it is able to grip your finger firmly than it is a fledgling.
The best thing to do in this case is to place it in a nearby tree or shrub and leave it alone. The parents will continue to care and feed it on their own.
If the bird is not able to cling to your finger, than it most likely a nestling. If this is the case try to locate the nest. Most of the time it will be close by and well hidden. Place the bird back in the nest.
If the nest cannot be found, try lining a small berry basket with tissue and tying the basket to a tree. Place the young bird in the basket and leave it alone. The parents will take care of it once you leave. If cats are a problem, keep them indoors for a couple of days. If it is neighboring cats or predators you fear, try to move the bird out of harms way. Move it to dense shrubbery.
Many bird deaths are caused by well-meaning people. It would be better that the young bird were caught by a predator than be tortured by a slow traumatic death caused by improper feeding and stress from a caring but uninformed individual.
Should you hand-feed birds that you have found? The short answer is no. Young birds need to be fed every 15 to 20 minutes from sunrise to sunset. Most people are not able to provide this much time and effort in raising young birds.
Be Advised – It Is Illegal To Possess Wild Animals Yes, holding wild birds in captivity is illegal.
Not only do young birds need to eat every 15 to 20 minutes during daylight hours, each bird species diet is different. Some bird species diet will change from the nestling phase to the fledgling phase of their development. Do you know exactly what the bird eats?
The question asked is “why do birds that are not able to fly, leave the nest?” To us humans, home is a warm and safe environment. For birds, the nest can be a dangerous place. Predators can attack the whole brood leaving an unsuccessful nesting season.
It is in the best interest of the young birds to not only leave the nest quickly, but it helps to be spread out from one another. This aids in limiting the number of baby birds a predator might harm. Giving the young the greatest chance at survival.
What Can I Do?
While it is understandable why one would want to help young birds, the best thing is to leave them alone.
If cats are a problem, keep them indoors for a couple of days. If it is neighboring cats or predators you fear, try to move the bird out of harms way by placing the bird in dense shrubbery.
Many bird deaths are caused by well-meaning people. It would be better that the young bird were caught by a predator than be tortured by improper feeding and stress from a caring but uninformed individual.
Without knowing the mental state of the young bird you are unable to know whether you are being a comfort or stressing it to death. Wild animals do not want to be petted.
Without the proper license and training, your best bet is to leave wild baby birds alone. Nature as we all know, is not always kind, but it is perfect.