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Injured & Orphaned Birds

The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother.

If your circumstance requires you to handle it, always wear protective gloves and place a towel over it to reduce stress. Always take extreme caution with wild animals. They may harbor diseases and try to defend themselves when fearful. Always be overly cautious of an animal you suspect is sick and in this scenario, keep yourself, children, and pets at a distance, and contact animal control immediately.

Have you found a baby bird out of the nest?

  • Determine whether it has fallen from the nest prematurely, or if being out of the nest is its intention.
    • A nestling (a baby bird without feathers) should not be out of the nest. 
    • A fledgling (a young bird that has recently acquired its feathers and is learning to fly) usually does not need help, even though it may appear to be struggling on the ground and you will probably see or hear the birds parents nearby. However, if the nest is visible and easily accessible, it is perfectly acceptable to put the fledgling back. 
  • Help a fledgling’s chance of survival by keeping cats and dogs away. Domesticated cats are the number one predator of small birds.
  • The best thing you can do for a nestling is to locate its nest and place it back inside. Do not worry about getting your scent on the bird; it will not affect the mother’s care.
  • If a nest with young birds has fallen down, the parents will often continue to raise the youngsters.
  • If the nest has fallen from the tree, you can replace it in a high safe spot.
  • If there is no nest in sight, you can create a substitute nest. Use a berry container or poke holes through a tub of margarine. Then line the inside with dry grass and/or pine needles. Next, hang the nest from a nearby tree and observe from far away. The mother will not return if you are present.
  • If she does not come back after an ample amount of time, you will need to take the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • You may also contact a rehabilitator if you are certain the mother is dead, or if the bird is visibly injured.
  • Signs of injury include the inability to flutter its wings, drooping of the wings in an uneven fashion, shivering, weak appearance, and blood.

How to Transport a Rescued Animal to the Wildlife Rehabilitator:

  1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth or towel at the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If there is no ventilation, make air holes.
  2. Protect yourself. Remember that these are wild animals. They are scared and may try to defend themselves. Even if the animal doesn’t try to scratch, bite, or peck, parasites and diseases are common. Wear gloves, cover the animal with another cloth or towel, and gently place it in the container. Wash your hands and forearms after contact.
  3. Keep the animal calm and warm. Keep children and pets away. Do not bother or handle the animal longer than necessary. Keep it covered for warmth and in a dark quite place.
  4. Do not attempt to feed or provide water.
  5. Note where you found the animal. This is important for release.
  6. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not keep the animal in your home. It is illegal to house injured/orphaned wildlife without the proper training and credentials.

The advice expressed on this page is to be utilized at your own discretion. Laws regarding wildlife may differ between counties.

Nestling Robins

Older Nestling Robin

Older Fledgling Robin

Local Wildlife Rehabilitators Accepting Birds

The Raptor Trust

1390 White Bridge Rd. Millington

Avian Wildlife Center
146 Neilson Rd., Wantage

Complete list of Wildlife Rehabilitators

New Jersey
New York

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