When you find a baby bird, information can be difficult to find, either for advice or to get the bird where it needs to be to receive proper care. Often timing is critical, and injured and orphaned wildlife can legally only go to individuals holding state and federal permits for rehabilitating that specific species. Some general advice is the following:
- If the baby bird appears healthy (eyes open, energetic, possibly vocalizing), is fully feathered, and hopping around on the ground, it’s just fine – leave it alone! Most babies leave the nest before they can fly; this is normal.
- If the bird is very young (naked, eyes closed, not able to stand yet), make every attempt to locate the nest (generally directly above where the bird is found) and return it to the nest. It is a myth that the parent will not accept the baby if it “smells a human” on it.
- If the bird is injured in any way or is a young duckling/gamebird/etc., it should be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator (see below) as soon as possible. It should be kept in a warm, quiet, dark place and no attempt should be made to feed or give water to the young bird.
Here is a list of current rehabilitators who may be able to help you:
- Cailin O’Connor Fitzpatrick – has NJ state/fed sub- and apprentice permits, can provide temporary care, transportation, and advice for wild birds. She lives in the Kinnelon, northern Morris County, NJ area, but works in the Paramus/Wyckoff area and is willing to meet you in this area and transport the bird. Telephone: 973-454-2761.
- Avian Wildlife Center – NJ state/fed permits, can provide full care, some transportation, and advice. The center is open to the public in Wantage, Sussex County, NJ. Telephone: 973-702-1957.
- The Raptor Trust – NJ state/fed permits, can provide full care and advice for wild birds. The center is open every day from 9am-4pm in Millington, Southern Morris County, NJ. Telephone: 908-647-2353 and an excellent website with helpful information: http://theraptortrust.org/.