Especially in the spring and summer, you’re likely to see a baby bird awkwardly hobbling on the ground, barely able to fly, possibly crying for its mother. It’s understandable that many well-meaning people mistake these babies for orphans. They are actually doing just fine and are under their parents’ care!
If a bird has feathers and can hop or attempt to fly— however clumsily— it is in the fledging stage of development. Like a human baby transitioning to toddlerhood, a fledgling will have some slips and stumbles and may, at times, appear helpless, but this is all a normal part of its development that will pass in time.
It may feel difficult to leave a baby bird on its own, but a baby animal’s best chance of survival is always with its parents. Birds are excellent parents and will make sure the baby is fed and protected during this challenging stage, which typically lasts only a couple of days. In the meantime, you can help protect fledglings by keeping cats indoors and encouraging your neighbors to do the same.