Help Baby Birds

I've Found a Baby Bird!

Step 4 - Contain the baby

Contain the baby

As you have determined the baby bird is sick, injured, or cannot be reunited with its parents, it will need help. Contain the baby using these guidelines:

  • Line a cardboard box with a soft blanket. If the baby cannot stand well on its own, make a depression in the middle of the blanket about the size of the baby, to create a false nest to keep the baby upright.
  • Poke a few small air holes in the sides of the box.
  • Wear garden/work gloves. Stand behind the baby and place a pillowcase or lightweight towel overtop of it, including its head. (If the baby is small enough to fit in one hand, you can skip the towel and just pick it up directly with gloves). Alternatively, you can place the box upside down over the baby and then shimmy a sheet or piece of cardboard underneath to scoop the baby into the box.
  • Place one hand over each side of the baby's body and lift it into the box you have prepared. If the baby has a sharp beak or talons, be sure to avoid contact with the beak and feet.
  • Once the baby is in the box, remove the pillowcase or towel and close the box lid securely.
  • Place half of the box on top of a heating pad set on low. Keep the box in a quiet place.
  • If the baby is a precocial bird and it is alert and walking around well, you can also provide a small dish of water (heavy enough that the baby will not tip it over). Other babies should not be given food or water until you speak to a wildlife rehabilitator. Baby birds need food frequently during the day, but you should be able to reach a wildlife rehabilitator within 1-2 hours. Baby birds do not typically eat overnight.

As soon as you have contained the baby, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for further advice.

It is very important that you do not hold or play with the baby. Wild birds can die from the stress of handling, and it is also extremely important for baby birds that they do not socialize with humans at a young age, as this can interfere with their normal learning and make it difficult for them to survive in the wild.

It is not legal to keep a wild baby as a pet, nor is it in the animal's best interest. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities are better able to ensure babies are raised with others of the same species, and have access to a proper environment and diet.

For information on how to find a wildlife rehabilitator, continue to Step 5.