General Question

wildpotato's avatar

Should I capture this bird and take him to a rehabber?

Asked by wildpotato (13655 points ) April 26th, 2014

Found a robin flopping around on the ground walking my dog in the woods this morning. I called Molly away before she got to him, but he still seems possibly injured to me. I think he may be a fledgling – it’s the right time of year, he’s smallish and has short wings, and the feathers on his butt are downy. He does not appear able to walk, but flops forward like adult injured birds I’ve seen. He should be able to walk, right? It is raining right now, and I know that can affect young birds who don’t oil their feathers yet, but even if his feathers are too wet for him to do the fledgling fly-hopping thing, shouldn’t he be able to walk and to fold his wings properly against his body? I watched him for about 15 minutes and didn’t touch him.

I can probably go find him again and usher him into a box safely if you guys think he’s injured. Quick answers much appreciated.

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21 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

If there’s a convenient rehab center nearby, I say take him. We have one about a 10 mintue ride away and they try to rescue everything. If not, I say rescue and try to rear him in a little warm box. Google for food and methods of feeding. Remove fecal sacs as he deposits them.

Here’s the number of the Berkshire Humane Society in Pittsfield. If they’re open today, they may have a resource or recommendation for you.

(413) 447–7878

hug_of_war's avatar

He does sound injured. If you already know of a rehabber I’d gve them a call. Depending on the injuries they make take him or euthanize if the injuries are too severe.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oh man… Welcome to the country. I’m sorry you have to see this. You are a good person.
Answer this honestly…do you have the time and resources to spend on this? Next week there will be another and another and another. You will see birds that have crashed into windows and made it out as far as the woods, injured rabbits, maybe deer that have been hit by cars and dragged themselves home. It is endless.

My area might have more predators than yours so, in general, if something is injured it is gone within an hour. My thinking is to let nature take its course and not spend precious resources on it.
I am always amazed at how much time and effort we are willing to spend on an injured bird yet we will not feed a starving child. We will not spend an hour reading to a literacy group but we willingly drive 30 miles and spend 2 hours at an animal shelter to save an injured bat.

My answer… unless it looks like a rare species, leave it alone.
And breathe.
The best thing to do is not always the easiest.

Cruiser's avatar

I agree with @LuckyGuy…nature demands that only the fittest survive…the rest are nourishment for the other animals up the food chain.

Coloma's avatar

If he is able to perch put him up in a tree where you found him and watch to see if the parents return, they usually do.
Many fledgling birds end up on the ground for a few days until they are able to flutter up into a bush or tree during their transition to flying.
It is possible he was injured in his fall, but without evaluation you should not attempt to care for him yourself.
If he is unable to perch then call your local wildlife rescue and put him in a warm, dark and quiet place, in a box lined with paper towels. No terry cloth, their claws will get stuck and possibly injured.

The rescue group may have a transport person available to pick him up, but usually you are asked to bring the bird/animal in if it is not a species that could cause you harm.
Sure, you can just leave him, but, being a former rehabber, it is always nice to try and see if you can give something a second chance.

anniereborn's avatar

@LuckyGuy I’m pretty sure I’d take care of a starving child if they were in my backyard. That’s not an easy task to accomplish on the whole.

wildpotato's avatar

Thanks, guys.

@Coloma He is unable to perch.

I went back and got him; he’s in a box in my office now, with a heating pad under the box. I got in touch with a rehabber nearby who will take him. She says it might just be that he’s young or he might have broken a leg – either way she’s up for it. She had me try to give him some wettened cat food, and he opened his beak like she said he would but then bites when I get my fingers in a bit closer. He also got angry and hopped out of his box then got frightened and started peeping a lot when I put him back, so I think I’m just stressing him out. But the rehabber will be home soon and I can take him over, so hopefully he won’t be without food for too long.

@LuckyGuy I see where you’re coming from, and I’ll probably get to the same place eventually. But till then I’ll just take it one case at a time – if I can handle it, I’ll give it a shot; if not I won’t beat myself up. And yeah, I do have the time today and the $.25—$3 in gas I’ll need to drop the bird off (there’s two spots; not sure which one I’m going to yet), so this is an easy one.

syz's avatar

When baby songbirds leave the nest, the are often not yet able to fly. The parents continue to feed them on the ground, in a bush, on a fence, etc.

From my friends at CLAWS, Inc

“When it’s time for babies to leave the nest, they are almost fully feathered and they do spend a lot of time on the ground, not able to get back to their nest. This is perfectly normal, it is how they learn. If you see a baby bird on the ground, who appears in need of help, unless it is in immediate danger of being killed by a predator, stay back and check on it from time to time to be sure mom is coming back to help it along. In most cases, mom is around and teaching this baby how to be a “big bird”. She and sometimes the father will call to the baby until it flies up to a short bush, until it can make longer and longer flights and eventually become a “big bird”.

If they are injured, or in immediate danger by a predator, then yes, it does need to be saved.

If the baby has no feathers, or just pin feathers, then try to find its nest and put it back in (mom cannot pick baby up and take it back to the nest). If you cannot find its nest, please call a rehabilitator.”

wildpotato's avatar

I looked at more photos of fledglings, and I’m starting to think he’s actually an older bird. Here’s a picture I just took. What do you guys think?

janbb's avatar

That looks like a mature robin to me.

gailcalled's avatar

Robin fledglings have speckled breasts, I believe.

GloPro's avatar

I’m a bird dork. I’m happy you’re helping!

wildpotato's avatar

I dropped Roberto off with the rehabber. She says he is a mature bird, just thin. He can’t perch because there’s something wrong with his toes on one foot, but it’s not clear what exactly, nor could she find any obvious injuries that would explain why he isn’t flying. She says he may just be very weak from not getting enough food, or he might have worms or be sick.

So glad I did that – not only did I help the bird, but I got to know a new awesome person in the area plus meet her three beautiful Toulouse geese! And join a round robin mini-farm work group, which I’m really excited about. Odd how it’s so much easier to meet folks out here than in the city.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato Yay…and geese…my gooses new friend is a Toulouse named Lautrec. haha
Hopefully Roberto ( great name ) will recover.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

No, it is…...let’s just say nature’s way of culling the weak; the whole natural selection thing. That is the way it was meant to be, and will be if humans don’t get in the way.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

So the bigger picture here is that doing the right thing to help someone in pain and not functioning sometimes actually opens the door to the good Samaritan to new friends, an exciting work group and possibly dinner in the future with the Geese Whisperer Dr.

As for nature culling the week @Hypocrisy_Central; we don’t actually know what nature’s intentions are in this regards. As for natural selection; it isn’t always the strong which survive. Many traits for weakness [see politicians] are passed down throughout the millennia.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wildpotato It’s great that you were able to meet some nice folks in the neighborhood. That is important. They now think you are equally nice.
Before everyone forgets your face you need to go the Friday night fish fry at the local restaurant. You will be able to wave “Hi” to some folks. They will introduce you to others “Clint, Wild potato is the crazy one who saved the injured robin I told you about. She’s nice.”)
Ask them some noob questions about wood burning stoves. Country guys love talking about heat and wood burning.

Coloma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Pffft! Plenty of creatures fall “prey” to natural selection, since when is an act of kindness wrong?
If someone had not picked up the little lost gosling 16 years ago I never would have had the best friend of my life all these years.

gailcalled's avatar

@wildpotato: A very nice conclusion to your saga.

Odd how it’s so much easier to meet folks out here than in the city. Not odd at all. You will find that happening all the time…decide how many friends and groups you want to get involved with and just say “Hi, I’m wildpotato.”

downtide's avatar

Acts of kindness are never wrong. Yes, natural selection would have played its part if you didn’t help that robin, but by doing so you haven’t just saved one life; if the bird can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild you’re also helping the breeding population and saving the lives of its children to come.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wildpotato You wrote: ”...it’s so much easier to meet folks out here than in the city.” Yes it is! Learn the local greeting culture by being observant the next time you are out.
Here, we talk to strangers easily and are not concerned about appearing odd. We also wave to each other as we drive by. You can tell if a person is a visitor by their wave. Our “road wave” is distinctive.
We get quite a few binocular and telescope toting birders here. We love them but they don’t know that at first. You can tell a newbie because they are reluctant to aim their scopes toward our houses. I just walk out and talk to them. “I know there is a great horned owl out in the woods – and I know the only reason you came here is you saw the listing on the local birding site. Feel free to walk around.” Sometimes I will offer my bathroom. Friends for life!

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