Orphaned Garden Birds
April 27th, 2015
Firstly – garden birds such as blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, rooks, crows etc. can’t fly once they leave the nest, they spend a lot of time on the floor building up coordination and flight muscles. This can take a week or so and they are usually fed by the parents while this is happening.
Just because there is a baby bird in your garden, it does not mean it is injured. Watch quietly from a window and most of the time the parents will return to feed the baby and coax it into flying. Leave it alone!
If you feel it is at risk perhaps from other animals or people you can gently scoop it up and place it in a tree or bush not more than 15 years from where you found it. If you know where the nest is (perhaps you have been watching the parents feed the young) you can pop it back in the nest. Do not linger in case you scare the parents away.
Should the parents be absent for over 4 hours, or if the baby has no feathers, the baby collapses, has any kind of injury or has been bitten by a cat you can step in.
Pink featherless babies need specialist care ASAP, keep it warm in your hands until you can get advice – ideally they should go back into their nest if you know where it is! Do not follow the advice below for pink and featherless birds as they cannot move away from the heat source.
Ideally for an injured baby you should go directly to your nearest vet or sanctuary as it will need treatment, until you can get it, follow these steps:
Birds will not feed if cold or stressed, the bird should be warm to the touch when you pick it up. If it is not, you should make sure you raise his temperature first by placing him in a sturdy cardboard box with a cloth on the bottom, tall enough that he can stand up in and you can stand a bottle in.
Then stand a plastic bottle with a tight lid full of warm water in the corner. Keep the bottle upright and the water should be warm enough for you to hold it in your hand comfortably for at least a minute. Do not make it any hotter.
You then snuggle the bird against the bottle, (he can move away himself when he is warm enough) and leave him indoors in a dark place such as a cupboard for an hour. DO NOT sit the bird on a hot bottle, you will damage his digestive system.
Baby garden birds need feeding every 30 minutes, until you get help you can support feed the little one as shown in our video!
We always recommend feeding fresh mealworms, you can’t go wrong feeding garden birds on these, most pet shops sell them now (dried ones are not suitable) but if you can’t get them you can use tiny earthworms from your compost heap. Failing that you can hard boil an egg and let it cool and use small rice grain sized pieces of that and feed as shown in the video. BUT you must get the bird to a sanctuary ASAP for proper food – egg should only be given 3-4 times at most.