What do I do with these birds?
July 27, 2006 6:02 PM   Subscribe

There are a few baby birds on my front porch right now, what should I do with them? Last night there was a torrential downpour and this birds nest was washed down the downspout and my neighbor rescued them from the ground and put them in a safe place on our (shared) porch. She is moving out tonight.

The thing about it is that I don't really feel up to nursing baby birds to health (not to mention the legality of it) I checked out the humane soceity website and it directed me to the university animal hospital, but not only does rescuing 4 sparrows feel like overkill, i don't really have the transportation to get them there. So what do I do? It seems inhumane to just let them sit there and die, is there an ethical way out of this? I don't want the birds to die, but I understand how nature is, however, I feel partially responsible for their fate as they would probably be dead if not rescued last night. What do i do?
posted by tev to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
I saw a bunch of baby sparrows on the lawn in the town commons this evening and had a very similar set of feelings to how you felt. I decided that they willl make a good meal for some hungry animal if they sit on the ground and keep shrieking the way they are doing and that's probably the way the circle of life is supposed to work, not with me keeping them in a shoebox so they can suffocate anxiously in my hot living room.
posted by jessamyn at 6:15 PM on July 27, 2006

Do you know any kids in your neighborhood? If so, ask them if they if there is some local adult that kids take baby birds to.

In many neighborhoods I've lived in there is somebody that takes care of baby birds and the kids all know about him/her.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:23 PM on July 27, 2006

Do the parent birds seem to be around? If so, they will take the babies back. I'd rig up some birdhouse-type thing in the vacinity of the original nest, and put the babies in. Mom and Dad bird will usually come back and resume feeding.
posted by xo at 6:40 PM on July 27, 2006

This is a tough one, because the nest is gone. You could try rigging up the nest. It might work.

If not, the baby birds need to be fed. Pretty much constantly.

The easiest thing to feed them is dry cat food soaked in water. A pair of tweezers will do it. A syringe will squirt water into their mouths. They need to be kept warm - as in - heating pad covered with a towel. That will keep them alive until tomorrow - and then you need to find a rehabber or a "bird lady." Because they really do need fairly constant attention.

Otherwise, Nature is a cruel mother.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:52 PM on July 27, 2006

From my sweetheart,

Wildlife Rescue: Help, Don't Hurt
The link goes to a list of signs that a baby animal may/may not need rescuing, and what to do if they do infact need help.


"This is a parrot rescue, but in the area and may be able to help: http://www.greenpeople.org/searchResults.cfm?memid=18451"
posted by lekvar at 6:56 PM on July 27, 2006

One more link: Illinois Wildlife Rehabilitators.
posted by lekvar at 6:59 PM on July 27, 2006

A few months ago, we had a baby robin blown out of a nest. When I looked up information online, the stuff that I found was pretty much what xo said: hang some kind of container up out of cat range, but where the parents will find it (and they're supposed to be pretty observant for this), and let the parent birds take it from there. They're probably still around and watching. They certainly were with the baby robin - they kept diving at me and making lots of noise.

Trying to catch or pick up the babies to put them in the container may be a challenge, though. I couldn't get the robin - it was old enough to run and jump and flap, just not old enough to fly.
posted by dilettante at 7:51 PM on July 27, 2006

It's July, they should be pretty old by now. If they're still alive and still making noise the parents are probably still feeding them so I wouldn't worry about it. Giving them a place to hide with some soft material would be nice of you though.
posted by fshgrl at 9:28 PM on July 27, 2006

Baby bird survival is very, very low. If an average breeding bird nests 3-4 times in their lifetime, with 4-6 eggs per clutch, less than 10% and, more likely, fewer than 5% of her eggs would have to reach adulthood in order to maintain a stable population. Even if the nest had stayed put, their odds of survival are incredibly long. Even if you happen to nurse them back to health to the point where they can fly away, they will probably die within their first year. Top it off with the fact that house sparrows are an invasive species anyway, and you have yourself a non-dilemma.

If you (or anyone else reading) feels bad about the death of your backyard flora/fauna, consider donating time and/or money to your local/national/international non-profit. Baby birds dying: definitely natural. I know it's an issue of tangibility, but the loss of a few sparrows really isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Same goes for injured squirrels/raccoons/crows, and especially bunnies. Spending an hour writing a letter to your representative about an important conservation issue in your neighborhood would save way more birds.
posted by one_bean at 10:06 PM on July 27, 2006

I read something once about how if you touch a baby bird, it's smell will be permanently altered and the parent birds won't be able to recognize it as their own. Or something. I'd google it but I'm too sleepy.

Just to be safe, maybe wear gloves when you handle them?
posted by np312 at 11:05 PM on July 27, 2006

np312, I think that's a commonly held belief, but levkar's link says it's not true.
posted by jessamyn at 6:11 AM on July 28, 2006

A few weeks ago, I found a baby sparrow that had apparently fallen out of its nest onto our driveway. It's been 100 degrees here everyday, and I decided the best thing I could do for it would be to move it into some shaded ground cover so it at least had a chance. It very lightly bit my finger as I picked it up, but sometimes we creatures react that way when someone greater tries to help us.
posted by davcoo at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2006

one_bean -
House sparrows may be an invasive species, but there are many native sparrows, for instance, in Illinnois you have the Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Lark Sparrow, all natives, and there are probably more.
posted by lekvar at 12:11 PM on July 28, 2006

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