“I found a dead bird. Should I save the babies?”

Even the very best rehabilitators can’t care for baby birds as well as the their natural parents, so we always make it a priority to keep baby animals with their families whenever possible.

Unfortunately, some baby birds end up in rehabilitation because well-meaning people kidnap them. It’s not uncommon for someone to find a dead bird and then bring a nest or babies to a rehabber, thinking the babies have been orphaned. Please don’t do this!

It’s very difficult to identify baby birds, even for experts, so the odds of taking a nest belonging to another species entirely are high. Even if you’re completely certain the nest you’ve found is the same species as the dead adult, they could still be from different families.

If you’re 100% certain the nest belongs to the individual bird you’ve found dead, it’s still best not to bring the babies to a rehabilitator (yet, at least!). Most baby birds are raised by both parents, and if one parent dies, the other will usually do just fine on their own.

If you’re able, you can watch the nest to make sure the other parent is coming by, or can send photos to your local rehabilitators, who may be able to look for signs of dehydration and hunger. It’s pretty easy to tell with baby birds, because their crops, where recently eaten food sits, are very visible! If the babies are true orphans, bringing them to a rehabilitator may be the correct step, but please don’t take them from the nest without being instructed to do so!

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