BY CHRISTY FRAZIER
For many years, my daughter, Lexi, volunteered for the Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center at the Ogden Nature Center and later moved to the newer location, which is now called The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.
She has an associate degree as a veterinarian technician. While volunteering, she has seen firsthand that the general public doesn’t know what to do when they find a baby bird. Most assume the baby bird was abandoned or lost and try to “help” the bird, which can have bad results.
So, what do you do when you find a baby bird out on your lawn or hiding in your garden? First, you need to determine if the baby needs assistance or if it is a fledgling that is learning how to fly.
When you first notice the baby bird, don’t approach it; instead, watch it for a while from a distance. Approaching the bird will cause it great stress and give the appearance it is unhealthy because it will be shaking. If the young bird is hopping around or sitting still, leave it alone. His parents are watching from a distance and will see that he is fed.
If he is in immediate danger of becoming dinner for a dog or a cat, then put some gloves on (some will peck at you with their beak), gently scoop him up, and put him in a nearby bush or other sheltered area close to where you found the bird. Birds have a poor sense of smell, so its parents will not abandon it; this is an old wives’ tale. When you are gone, the baby bird will chirp and send out a signal to his parents of where he is.
DO NOT give a baby bird food or water. While it seems to be human nature to want to feed a wild animal, this can do more harm than good. Not all birds eat worms, bird seed, or table scraps. Many have specific dietary needs and different ways in which they digest their food. Offering the bird the wrong diet can cause the young bird to choke, become malnourished, or even die.
Some baby birds will fall out of their nests before they are ready to be on their own. If you can find the nest, put on some gloves, gently pick up the bird, and place it back into the nest.
If the nest has been destroyed, construct a makeshift nest using a small container like a basket. Line the container with materials from the nest, if you can find some, or use dry grass and leaves. Place it securely on a branch, close to where the old nest used to be.
If the bird appears to be sick, hungry, or injured, call your nearest wildlife or wild bird rehabber. If you live in the Northern Utah area, you can call The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah located in Ogden at 801-814-7888. They also have a very informative website (https://wrcnu.org/) with pictures and charts on what to do if you find a baby bird. There are also activities for kids. If you are looking for a scout project, their website lists many wonderful opportunities for volunteer help.
Finding a baby bird creates a feeling of compassion and the need to help in most people. As much as we want to help, the best thing you can do is to simply leave the bird alone. Only intervene in minor ways if you must. Above all else, do not try to make the bird a pet; not only could you seriously harm the wild animal, it is against the law.
HOW TO HELP!
• Watch from a distance to see if it really needs help.
• Use rubber gloves to transfer to a safe place if in danger
• Feed or water the bird
• Try to make it a pet
If you live in the Northern Utah area, you can call The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah located in Ogden at 801-814-7888. They also have a very informative website (https://wrcnu.org/) with pictures and charts on what to do if you find a baby bird.