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Female Eastern Bluebird Feeding A Baby

Female Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) bringing food to a hungry baby.

Baby birds will often venture down to the ground when learning to fly. That helpless-looking fledgling you might encounter sitting in your yard is probably being watched by a parent from a distance.

Most baby birds do not need to be rescued, so it is important to determine if the bird is truly orphaned. First, anyone who finds a baby bird should attempt to locate the nest. If the nest is found, the baby bird should be returned to the nest. Birds do not have a true sense of smell, so the myth that birds will reject a baby bird if touched by a human is not true. A human's scent on baby bird, however, does make it easier for a predator (cat, raccoon, etc.) to find. So handle them as little as possible.

In order to determine if a baby bird is truly orphaned, you may need to watch for parent birds bird from a concealed location for at least two or three hours. If a nest cannot be located and the bird is “rescued,” the first important step is to provide warmth to the baby bird. A hot water bottle, low heating pad, or even hot water in a glass bottle will do.

A rehabilitator should be called immediately to care for birds that are orphaned. Please check with your local Department of Natural Resources or other Nature Centers for a list of qualified rehabilitators. Taking care of injured birds and wildlife should be left to people who know how to do it best. The best advice is ... if you care, leave them there. Happy Birdfeeding!

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Kathy and her husband, John, own and operate the Wild Birds Unlimited, located at 111 S. 24th St. W.in Billings and at www.mywbu.com/billings. She is a Certified Bird Feeding Specialist and is past president of the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society.

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