Know when to help baby birds

Spring is in the air, which means
that baby birds will soon follow. It is important for members of the public to
know how to deal with young birds that have fallen out of their nests.

According to Alison Corbett,
project manager at Cayman Wildlife Rescue, the organisation receives many calls
from people looking for information on baby birds.

“It is very important that the
public take a moment to observe baby birds before assuming they need to be
rescued,” said Ms Corbett.

Concerned members of the public are
encouraged to first identify whether the bird is injured, as fallen nestlings
and fledglings often are attacked by cats and dogs. If the bird is injured
Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be contacted at 917-BIRD as the bird will require
emergency veterinary care. If the bird is not injured, but is unable to fly it
must be determined to be either a nestling or a fledgling.

Nestlings are bare or covered in
downy feathers. When you have found a nestling on the ground, look for a nest
nearby. If there is a nest, the bird can be gently placed back inside the nest
and then it should be monitored at a safe distance for the parents to return.

There is no truth in the old wives
tale that a bird will reject their young if you handle them – in fact most
birds have a very poor sense of smell,” said Ms Corbett.

If there is not a nest or the nest
is destroyed, one can be fabricated out of a basket or plastic container
drilled with drainage holes. Cayman Wildlife Rescue has a tall ladder to assist
with restoring fallen nests and nestlings, the public can call for help with
this effort.

Once nestlings have been restored,
the nest should be monitored for up to three hours for the parents return and
people are reminded to never offer a wild animal food or liquids unless
instructed. Great care should also be taken at this time of year when pruning
trees, shrubs and palm trees so as to not disturb nesting birds.

When the found baby bird is a
fledgling, meaning it is a baby bird learning to fly; it will most likely not
need to be rescued. These young will be alert and hopping around on the ground
as they learn flying skills. Their parents will be nearby, offering them food
while they are on the ground.

“If you find a baby bird, well feathered,
hopping on the ground the best thing a person can do is watch from a safe
distance. If you have a cat or dog bring it inside and watch for the parents to
return,” said Corbett.

If the bird is not in a safe area,
it is best to move it to a shrub nearby and continue to monitor. Often
fledglings become victim to cats and dogs. If they are injured they will need
emergency veterinary care and Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be notified immediately.

“We strongly encourage responsible
pet ownership, cats and dogs should not be allowed to roam freely for their own
safety and also for the safety of our wildlife. One of the most common reasons
we see animals come in for care is due to being attacked by cats or dogs,” said
Ms Corbett.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue’s Hotline
917-BIRD (2473) is operated 24/7 to provide support for wildlife in trouble.

Members of the public should not
attempt to care for a baby bird, as the birds require special diets and have
demanding feeding schedules. Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be notified when a
baby bird is deemed abandoned so an experienced Wildlife Rehabber can resume
its care.

FEATBabybirdsSTORY

Nestlings should be placed back in the nest whenever possible.
Photo: Submitted
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