It’s not uncommon to find an immature bird that has fallen out of the nest. This usually happens in the spring when the birds are old enough to move around in the nest but too young to fly. Their flopping about sometimes puts them on the ground and in serious trouble. So what do you do?
If you can find and safely reach the nest it fell out of you can try putting it back. There is no truth to the belief that a parent bird will reject a baby bird touched by humans, as songbirds have no appreciable sense of smell. If you are unable to reach the nest, and have the heart and patience to become a foster parent, here are some tips on baby bird survival.
Keep the bird warm, as they are very vulnerable to pneumonia when chilled. A ventilated box sitting on top of a heating pad should work. Try to keep the inside of the box around 85 degrees. If you think the bird has been out for a while, it may be dehydrated. Start out feeding it warm milk with a little sugar added from a medicine dropper. You may have to gently pry the mouth open at first and squirt just a little at a time into its throat until it catches on.
After that it is important to feed the bird properly and often. Here are a couple of baby formulas to try: Fix a mixture of 60% myna bird pellets (pet store) and 40% dry cat food with a day’s dose of bird vitamins (pet store) thrown in. Grind the 3 together and refrigerate. To prepare, add some hot water to a small amount of the mix. The younger the bird, the more liquid the food should contain. A nestling does not drink water, but gets fluids from foods. Another recipe is a mixture of lean ground beef, hardboiled egg yolk, baby cereal, and warm milk added to make the mix wet enough to be picked up with a toothpick. Earthworms washed and cut into small pieces are worth a try also. To tell if the bird is getting enough water, check its droppings. They should be loose and moist, not hard. If the bird’s skin is shiny and smooth (not dry and tight) you’re doing okay.
For a young bird, feeding time is every hours during the daytime (I didn’t say it was going to be easy). As the bird gets older, it can go two to four hours between feedings. If you’re not feeding the bird enough, it will squawk to let you know it’s still hungry. When the bird is constantly escaping from the box and making definite attempts to fly, it may be time to set it free.