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lucillelucillelucille's avatar

How can I help this baby bird?

Asked by lucillelucillelucille (34320points) May 23rd, 2010

Today I grabbed a baby red-winged blackbird out of the river.It was a fledgling and it must have fallen in as it tried to leave the nest.I watched it “paddle” with it’s wings to get close to shore where I was able to grab it.I nailed a plastic container with drain holes to a tree and filled it with grass.What do I do now??
I know there are one’s that would say to let nature take it’s course,but this little guy tried so hard to make it to shore that I want to give it a fighting chance.Does anyone know what I can do for him?

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23 Answers

Coloma's avatar

If it is uninjured the best thing to do is put it back in the reeds where mama and papa bird can still keep an eye on it.

All fledgling birds go throguh a transistional phase where they are mobile, half hopping, half flying and the parents keep an eye out and still show it where the food is or bring it food here and there as it transistions.

Take him back to where you found him, put him safely away from the waters edge but in the same habitat you found him and then watch from a distance to see if the parents find him…they know the sounds of their own babies.

I bet the parents will find him within 30 minutes or so.

Good luck!

Coloma's avatar


It is a myth that a bird will reject it’s offspring if it has been handled.

Songbirds have a very poor sense of smell, vultures and seabirds are a couple of exceptions.

I can’t stress enough that this myth is totally not true!

krose1223's avatar

Once you have touched it the mama bird probaly won’t get it. You can find a wild life rescue place and drop it off. Or if you don’t have one near you I used to take care of birds and squirrels a lot after hurricanes in Florida, and we were instructed to soak dog food and feed it to the bird. Get a box or something to keep it in until it is ready to fly. Birds are pretty easy to take care of.

Coloma's avatar


haha…see…you believe that too! No, no, no…...a huge untruth!

I used to volunteer for a bird rescue/wild life rescue…and that is one of the most common misconceptions about handling a baby bird.

mrentropy's avatar

I have experience in this matter and I totally agree with @Coloma.


Also, I wouldn’t feed a young bird dog food. Personally, unless you know what you’re doing you shouldn’t feed a baby bird.

Response moderated
lucillelucillelucille's avatar

See,I found him “swimming” in the river and do know that the nest is located in a bush right at the river’s edge.I did see it’s sister hopping about on the bush.Last I checked it did seem to have more energy.I just don’t want to leave him vulnerable while he is still exhausted.
So ,you think I should put it on the ground by the bush?I am afraid cats,and other predators will get it.The parents are well aware of where it is and dive bomb me every time I go to see:)

Coloma's avatar

Put him up off the ground in the bush or nearby tree etc.

Just watch for awhile, things should work out. Let us know! :-)

Coloma's avatar

Actually the stress of being captive is worse than the other issues.

I’d get him back out there asap or call your local wildlfie people, but, he’s ready to go…not much they could do either.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Coloma-The nearest branch on a tree is 20 feet up.Even my mopther-in law couldn’t reach it! LOL- the bush is on a slope right above the river…should I put him under it?? I’m worried about tthis little guy:(

krose1223's avatar

I won’t argue about it being a myth, I’ve never seen facts about it just been told. I am going by what we were trained to do. I grew up in Florida and we were “foster parents” for wild animals. We dealt more with squirrels than birds but I would feel comfortable taking care of a bird if I had to.

And yeah the fact that he fell out of a tree without a storm or anything means he was probably learning how to fly so the time is near and he will be able to fend for himself. I was thinking of an itty bitty bird when I read this question…

Response moderated
jaytkay's avatar

A family of starlingsmakes a nest every year beneath my bedroom window, in the cable TV box on the side of my apartment building.

One morning last week one of the babies was on the ground, directly below the nest. I thought about picking it up, but what then? Feed it? Keep it in a cage? And I had a train to catch.

It was gone that evening. I’ve been feeling guilty.

Oh, well. I’ll never know. We don’t have predators around the building much, not even cats slinking around. Rabbits are common. guess a rat might have taken it.

Hopefully the predicament motivated him to learn to fly that day.

mrentropy's avatar

@jaytkay they can hide pretty well when they want to. Where I used to work, birds fell out of trees all the time. I nearly stepped on one that was hiding and made it a point to be very careful where I walked after that.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Thank you for all your help! I just went out to check and he is gone!
I’d like to think it got it’s energy back and took off.
He is one tough cookie :)

Tomfafa's avatar

Feed it now! Baby food with an eyedropper… and first maybe a touch of clove honey just for energy. er… next time…

Coloma's avatar



I bet he scrambled and fluttered off with the folks…good job!

As far as feeding…best not to if one is not experienced, get any bird/wildlife to a professional.

The rules are always…

WDQ ( warm, dark & quiet ) to minimize stress.

No food before sure of hydration…food will kill a dehydrated bird or animal, the wrong kind of food will kill them anyway.

All species have different requirements but something like a Blackbird would need fresh fruits and meal worms for a balanced diet.

The baby bird diet usually consists of many different foods with a base formula rehabbers use, and meal worms dusted in a vitamin powder. Stuff that most folks do not keep handy in the fridge. lol

On top of that, in the rehab setting babies are always paired with others of their own kind and contact is kept minimal at feedings for the best chance of release.

After hand feeding EVERY 10–20 minutes morning til night..( no feedings at night )
in the early weeks, then the fledglings diets shift to seeds, fruits and meal worms that they MUST learn to pick up and eat on their own before releasable. This is where competing and watching other fledglings is vital to a successful transistion to independence.

An inexperienced person and a single baby is not a good combo.

It is very important for baby birds to be raised with others.

You’d also be amazed how many baby birds come into rehab and people have fed them MILK!

Bad, very bad! :-/

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Coloma-Thank you for the excellent advice!:)))

Response moderated
syz's avatar

@Tomfafa Birds should never be given honey – it promotes a yeast overgrowth and can be very harmful to wildlife.

For future reference, this is a helpful article.

citygrlincountry's avatar

See if there is a wildlife rehabber in your local area—get their phone number and keep if for future reference—in case you come across something like this again, you will know who to call. It sounds like you are a very caring person, and I’m glad to hear that the baby bird went off on his on, he’s probably fine!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@citygrlincountry -Thank you:) I hope he is ok as well.Tomorrow I will look for him.

Tomfafa's avatar

@syz Oops… Thank you

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