Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society

Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society

Serving Benton and Franklin Counties since 1965

Injured or Orphaned Birds

What to Do With an Injured or Orphaned Bird

In nature, young animals sometimes become separated from their parents and need help. In many cases when baby birds appear "orphaned," they actually are being well cared for. Over 75% of young animals that are rescued by well-intentioned people do not need help.

If you find a baby bird not yet covered with feathers that is out of its nest:

  • If the baby is warm, alert/responsive, and uninjured, try to return it to the parents. Watch for adults making noise or protecting the young bird.

  • Try to find the nest.

  • If you can't find the nest or the nest has fallen, fill a plastic hanging flower pot (with drain holes) with fine straw. Make a shallow hollow to place the nest in and hang it in approximately the same place as the original nest.

  • Make sure the adults are returning to the nest.

If you find a fully-feathered baby bird out of its nest:

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk (photo courtesy of Blue Mountain Wildlife)
  • Observe the young bird where found to decide if the baby actually needs help.

  • If it is hopping around and is alert and responsive, it has probably reached the fledgling age when it is practicing its flying and foraging skills.

  • Confine any cats, dogs, and children, and place the baby bird in a safer area if necessary (up on some branches in shrubs or trees). Hopefully the adults will return to the fledgling.

If you find a truly orphaned or injured bird:

  • Gently pick it up with a cloth or towel.

  • Place it in a box with a lid to keep it dark.

  • Keep it in a warm and quiet place (the body should be very warm to the touch). You may have to supply supplemental heat by using a hot water bottle or heating pad (on "low").

  • Do not give it food or water. For further instructions on injured birds, these persons may be called in the sequence shown:

Get Help

These persons will assist under Blue Mountain Wildlife permits.

  • Michelle Caron - Cell (509) 366-0888
  • Laurel McKeehan - Cell (509) 366-5777
Lynn Thompkins of Blue Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation and Molly Lynville prepare an American Kestral for release.