What kind of birds are these and how do I take care of them?
May 12, 2014 6:13 PM   Subscribe

My husband brought home a couple of baby birds that his friend found in his yard after they fell out of their nest.

His friend watched them for a while and determined that their parents weren't caring for them and thus he began feeding them worms and syringing them water. But they're too demanding for him to keep up with so my husband brought them home for me because I have the time and interest.

I want to take good care of them until they're old enough to fly and take care of themselves but none of us have any idea what kind of birds these are!

Picture 1, Picture 2, Picture 3, Video

Please advise, thanks!
posted by Jacqueline to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what kind of birds they are (have never worked with them). Birds need water, food and heat. Heat is the first thing. Do you have a heating pad? If so, set it on the lowest setting. Something to keep them warm, but not cook them.

You can feed them canned cat food - you don't need to grub for worms. When they're a little bigger, you can feed them dry cat food soaked in water.

You can feed water from an eyedropper. Baby birds, if they're warm enough, want to be fed. They should open their beaks - or tap them to get them to open up.

Someone who has done more recent rehabbing might have newer, better advice.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:17 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I believe those are American Crow, but don't quote me on that.
posted by wierdo at 6:17 PM on May 12, 2014

My guess is starlings. They do look crow-ish, but if two baby crows fell out of a nest, there would likely be a shit-ton of adult crows around raising a ruckus.

Is there a wildlife rehab center in your area? They're often staffed by volunteers, but have a central phone number. There might be someone who will take them in and care for them. Failing that, they could give you advice on how to care for them.

See this link, which advises you NOT to feed the babies.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Baby crows have surprising blue eyes, if that is any help.
posted by dilettante at 6:33 PM on May 12, 2014

See this link, which advises you NOT to feed the babies.

My husband's friend already took them inside and has been feeding them for a couple of days so I think the damage is done. Apparently they were hopping around after his dogs trying to get the dogs to feed them and he figured that it was just a matter of time before they'd try that with a cat and get killed.

So, given that I can't undo what his friend did and return them to their parents, I'd like to keep the poor babies alive until they can fend for themselves. I can handle a rigid feeding schedule -- a few weeks ago I was waking up every couple of hours to syringe-feed/water my dying cat -- I just need to know what the schedule and food should be.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:34 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will call the Wildlife Center of Virginia in the morning once their office is open and see what they say but I could still use some help figuring out what to do with them tonight.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:38 PM on May 12, 2014

They do look crow-ish, but if two baby crows fell out of a nest, there would likely be a shit-ton of adult crows around raising a ruckus.

OK, so I'm reading up on baby crows and it's quite possible that they were deliberately abandoned:
"In some species, however, and crows are one of these species, nestling birds may be THROWN out of the nest. That is, it is in the best interests of the parent birds to get rid of some of their own offspring, and they accomplish this by tossing a couple of kids. (Life is not pretty!) But, such things happen only relatively infrequently! (In these cases putting the young back in the nest will probably result in them getting tossed again. Either that, or that one will drag the rest of the nest into starvation with it.)"
posted by Jacqueline at 6:47 PM on May 12, 2014

I don't know about Virginia, but when I found a cat-injured baby bird and looked it up online, the internet informed me that in California anyway it is illegal to keep wild birds of any variety, even common ones.

So I called around to find out where I should take it, and then ended up biking it over the student animal hospital or some such place on campus. They said they would either rehab it if they could or use it to train the raptors to catch live prey if they couldn't.
posted by aniola at 6:50 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fwiw I had three pet crows once. They began about the same size as your nestlings (though I'm not certain yours are crows) and grew to be cool pets which naturalized easily. They stopped coming to land on me after about a year. They were fairly easy to feed - I think they got mashed brown bread+milk+egg mostly, with a bit of other stuff randomly mixed in (chopped worms, whatever). I just used fingers, did not need a syringe.
posted by anadem at 8:24 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am fairly certain that those are crow or crow-related chicks, based on the shape of the beak and head. I am definitely certain they are not starling chicks, as those have bright yellow mouths.
posted by Gneisskate at 8:36 PM on May 12, 2014

I rescued a young crow that got stuck under a porch at my neighbor's several years ago. I heard the commotion to beat hell coming from over there and no one was home, so I had to go see what the problem was. Several other crows were squawking and screaming and dancing around the porch and I finally found the little guy where I could just barely reach him. I pulled him out but I wasn't about to just turn him loose there because I knew he'd go right back under the porch and there were places under there I couldn't reach, so I carried the little stinker out of that yard, through their front yard and into my own fenced front yard where there was no porch. The other crows swooped at me and screamed at me and flapped me with their wings as they flew along with me, but they didn't peck me or hurt me at all. When I got him safely into my front yard, I put him down and the adult birds ran right to him and fluttered all over him.

For many months I would have at least one crow fly down toward me and swoop just above my head whenever I walked out the front gate and even if they didn't fly to me, they'd caw and caw from the treetops when I went through the gate. It wasn't the first time I'd rescued a young bird, or the last time, either, but it was a great experience and I've loved crows ever since.

The young bird himself was magnificent; he was much bigger than this little one, shiny black and lively as can be - really an amazing creature.
posted by aryma at 10:21 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Get professional opinion and let them decide what to do with them. Crows are amazing creatures, have strong social bond.We feed them everyday and they are just beautiful to see. I have never seen one crow eat without collecting all of his brood. Do the right thing and get these chicks some help.
posted by jbean at 11:32 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Update: The one on the right (I named him "Sleepy") just died. :( He'd already been subdued compared to his sibling ever since my husband brought him home and this morning he had no interest in eating. My husband's friend thought that he might be dehydrated and/or injured -- he'd been out in the yard without any help longer than the other bird, and he wasn't able to sit up or hop as well as his sibling.

The other bird (I named him "Chirpy") is doing pretty well. I'm syringe-feeding him a cat food / water slurry every time he chirps. He can sit up and perch on my finger without any problem.

I'm still waiting for the wildlife center to open to find out what I should do with Chirpy.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:02 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Update: The Wildlife Center of Virginia referred me to the Rockfish Sanctuary, which is about an hour's drive north of me and has a population of baby crows that they care for. So I'm headed out to take Chirpy up to them so he can be with other crows and learn crow things.

Thanks for the help identifying him as a crow and the advice about the heat and the cat food -- that kept him going through the night while I waited for the wildlife center to open.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2014 [17 favorites]

Update: So it turns out that my baby crow is actually a baby grackle!

Fortunately, the Rockfish Sanctuary rehabilitates grackles too, and they even already had another lonely baby grackle in need of a friend. So Mr. Chirpy is in good hands.

Thanks again for all the advice.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2014 [17 favorites]

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