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If you see a baby bird on the ground, is it OK to pick it up and put it back in the nest?
Question Date: 2004-05-24
Answer 1:

Many people believe that when they see a baby bird on the ground it is rejected by its parents or siblings or is lost. In occasions, this might be true, but in most cases this might be a natural occurrence. What you have to look out for is what stage of growth the baby bird is at.

If the baby is NOT fully feathered and has fallen from its nest (a hatchling or nestling), the very best thing is to put the baby back into the nest. Many people ask if a baby bird will be rejected if a person handles the baby and the bird parents smell the human. Baby birds are NOT rejected by their parents if a person handles them. In fact, most birds have a very poor sense of smell. Depending on the age and species, a baby bird may need to eat every 20 minutes during daylight hours. So if you come across baby birds that have fallen from the nest before fledging, you should return them to the nest immediately. Otherwise (if unable to reach the nest), they should call a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.

If the baby bird is a fledgling they may have actually intentionally left the nest. They might leave the nest, scurry on the ground, etc., looking like a lost baby bird, but they are actually learning to become independent, and will try to jump and fly. The parents care of these fledglings and keep track where they are until the fledglings can live on their own. So the baby bird you see may be a fledgling that is being taken care of by its parents still.

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