By Mary Pringle for Island Eye News
What to do if you find a baby songbird on the ground:
- If it has feathers, it might be almost ready to fly. It is not good to take it away from its parents if it is healthy. You should pick up the bird and do NOT worry about the old wives’ tale saying that if you touch it, the parents will abandon it. Birds do not have a strong sense of smell and this is not true. Next, look for the nest and if you can find it and reach it, try to put the bird back into it. If the bird is on the verge of flying, it might not stay in the nest and will be out on the branches or maybe even back on the ground. If this doesn’t work, put the bird up off the ground on a branch of a nearby tree or bush to keep it safe from predators. Do this repeatedly if necessary. It should call to the parents who will continue to feed and care for it. Sometimes these chicks just need another day or two of development before they can fly. Well-meaning people often “kidnap” young birds and take them away because they think they need help when often they just need to be safely off the ground but still in the area with their parents. This is their best chance for survival.
- If you see obvious injuries such as fractures or wounds with blood, you should put it into a covered shoebox on a towel and keep it in a quiet dark place and take it to a veterinarian who accepts wildlife cases. Do not attempt to give it food or water. People have drowned or choked them by doing this. The best places in our area are Veterinary Specialty Care at 985 Johnnie Dodds Blvd near Dragoon Drive, a 24 hour emergency veterinarian center and The Pet Vet on Shem Creek where wildlife cases are accepted during business hours.
- It is said that millions of songbirds are killed by domesticated and feral cats every year in the United States. So keeping cats indoors for their own safety and the safety of the birds in your yard is a very good practice for all.