Jun
21
2009

  How To Save A Baby Bird

Terry looked up on the internet how to care for a baby bird-- if you find a baby bird that looks abandoned, pick it up if it's in the road or other open area, and put it in a nearby shrub. Since birds are raised by both parents, it's quite unlikely something bad happened to both of them, and what probably happened is that the little bird just wandered away from the nest. The adult birds leave the nest often during the day to get food for their little babies, and some species can be gone for several hours at a time. So it's likely that the adult bird will come back to the nest in the near future, see their baby is missing, go find it, bring it back to the nest and feed it.

According to whatever website Terry found, it is almost impossible to care for a wild baby bird yourself, so it's best to just leave it in a safe place where one or the other of its parents will be likely to find it.

Which is what we did when we found an abandoned baby bird, eventually. It was not the first thing we did.

We walked the 4-mile route to the end of Jones Mill Road today, and when we went around the bend shortly past our 3-mile turnaround point, we passed a little bird sitting in the gravel on the side of the road. I thought it was curious that it let us walk right by it without flying away, but let it be. About 10 yards up the road, I saw another baby bird, but this one was dead, totally flattened by a car tire. We continued on our walk.

But when we walked back, the little bird was still sitting in the exact same place it was when we passed it in the other direction over ten minutes earlier. I went to look at the dead bird, and sure enough, it was the same kind of bird, and what was left of it looked like it had fluffy feathers like a baby instead of an adult. Terry and I figured that something happened to these little birds' parents so that the birds had to fend for themselves, and one got run over in the process. And the remaining bird was just pathetically sitting at the edge of the road since it didn't even know what it was supposed to be doing to eat, find shelter, etc. So Terry tossed me a diaper, and I picked up the bird.

We carried the little thing all the way home, it fluttered a little when I first picked it up, but was overall pretty docile. I think it was cold sitting out in the gravel since its feathers were all puffed up, and once it was tucked into the diaper it settled in and smoothed itself out.

Since we walked further than usual today (and had the added time deciding how we were going to help the baby bird when we passed it the second time), we didn't make it home before William got hungry. So I put William in the sling and fed him during the last half-mile home from our walk. Terry put the bird on the diaper in the stroller, and pushed the bird home. The bird seemed pretty content to ride in the stroller, even though the poor little thing looked like it was getting bounced a lot over the most gravelly part of our driveway.

Once we were home, I continued feeding W on the front porch, while Terry got a bit of water for the bird. We put it in a saucer in front of the bird, but it wouldn't drink. Then we tried giving it water with an eyedropper, but it wouldn't open its beak. Then I thought maybe it was supposed to be getting all its liquid from its diet of bugs or worms. Terry caught an ant from the downstairs bathroom and tried to feed it to the bird with tweezers. Our little bird remained uninterested. I suggested Terry try going, "tweet tweet" while he held out the food, which he did, but since he can whistle (I can't), he soon decided whistling like a bird might be more familiar to the little one than saying, "tweet tweet." Good thinking on Terry's part.

But since nothing was interesting this bird, Terry went online to see if he could find instructions about saving a baby bird. Which I described at the start of this post. So much for all the kids' shows we watched in the 1980s that featured a plot line of kids saving baby birds and feeding them worms while they lived in a shoebox with airholes cut out. It's not like that in real life.

So I got in the car, and drove back to the spot where we found the bird. As I approached, I saw an adult bird inspecting the dead baby in the road. The parent was probably wondering what happened to the other missing baby bird, since there would have been no trace of him. The adult bird flew into a tree as I drove nearer. I put the baby in a shrub, where he was visible so his parents could find him, but far enough over that if he fell off the branch he'd land in the foliage instead of in the road.

So I hope the little bird will be ok. Next time we'll kmow how to help it right-- just move it out of the road and into a shrub.