June 28th
Nestlings and Fledglings

Summer is an exciting season for animal lovers, with wildlife activity at its peak. Birds that were born in spring begin to explore the area around their nests, and for people passing by, it may be difficult to tell when they are in need of assistance. Educating yourself about the stages birds go through as they mature can help you figure out when to intervene, and when it’s best to leave them be.

NESTLINGS VS. FLEDGLINGS

Nestlings are newborn birds that appear with little to no feathers, usually with their eyes closed. Nestlings require constant care from their parents, and should be kept within their nests at all times. If a nestling has fallen, and you can see the nest, it is okay to carefully place the bird back into the nest. If the nest is nowhere to be found, construct a nest nearby using a small container and some scrap fabric or other soft material, and place it as high up as possible. Keep an eye out for the parents, and if they have not returned within a few hours, call a local wildlife rehabilitation center or your local humane society for further directions.

When a baby bird reaches the point where they are too large for the nest, they are known as fledglings. Fledglings are fully feathered, and can hop around freely but cannot take flight. For lack of a better term, they are “teenagers”, so it is safe for them to have some time away from their parents. As a method of building survival skills, they need to flap their wings and learn to fly, but they have to leave the nest to do so. The best thing to do for these birds is to leave them be. They may have left the nest to hide from a predator, practice their flight skills, forage for a snack, or a number of other reasons. Their parents are nearby and will intervene when it’s necessary.

WHAT IF THE BIRD IS INJURED?

If you see that the bird is injured with a broken wing or leg, regardless of age, call a local wildlife rehabilitator or your local humane society. If possible, avoid touching the bird - along with the fact that birds may carry diseases and parasites, you could injure it further by moving it. Although it is a myth that touching a bird will cause the parents to reject it, it’s important to keep the safety of the bird as your priority. A specialist wildlife rehabilitator can give you instructions on what to do.

WHAT IF THE NEST IS IN AN UNSAFE LOCATION?

It is typically illegal to move birds nests that contain eggs or chicks, however if the location of the nest causes potential harm to the birds or to homeowners, a permit may be given to remove or relocate the nest. Most bird species in North America are protected by law, meaning that there are regulations around disturbing these birds that only a professional will be able to work around.

Humane wildlife removal companies like Skedaddle are familiar with the regulations related to protected birds and the process for obtaining necessary permits. It’s important to choose an ethical and humane removal company when dealing with all wildlife, but especially when babies are involved.

It is human nature for us to want to take care of small creatures that appear to be struggling, but it’s important to recognize the difference between when animals actually need our help and when they don’t. When interfering with nature there’s always a risk to both your own safety and that of wildlife so be sure to always take care.