Have you ever seen a human toddler in their first days on their feet? They stumble, waddle, and often fall… but it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or that they don’t have parents looking out for them. The awkward first days of toddling are just part of how humans learn and grow.
That’s how it is for fledglings— baby birds who have just left the nest. Like human toddlers, they’re unsteady and clumsy, and this leads many well-meaning people to think they’re orphans or that they have fallen out of the nest prematurely. In reality, fledglings are still under their parents’ care and they’re doing just fine, even if they aren’t flying very well yet.
If you see a baby bird on the ground that you think is an orphan, take a close look. If it has lots of feathers and is able to hop and flap its wings, leave it exactly where you found it. If it can’t hop, appears injured, or has very few feathers, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for the next steps.
You may be tempted to take a fledgling to a rehabilitator, or even to try to raise it yourself, just to be on the safe side. Please don’t! A baby bird’s best chance of survival is always with its natural parents. You can help make sure the fledgling survives this difficult stage by keeping your pets indoors or leashed for the next few days.
Kidnapping a healthy bird is never the answer!