Dear Beach Bird:
What should I do if I find a baby bird without its parents?
From Latisha, age 9, Atlantic City
At some point or another, nearly everyone who loves the outdoors as much as I do finds an abandoned baby bird. Many humans who find one try to adopt them and raise them, but the truth is that most of the time, the young bird doesn’t need help – and trying to help may actually be causing harm.
Most birds that live near the ocean are called precocial chicks by scientists and bird-watchers – that means they come out of their eggs already covered in feathers and ready to open their eyes and walk. After only a few minutes, the newborn bird is already learning from its parents how to find food and how to fly. During this important early time in a bird’s life, he/she needs his/her parents to identify predators and sources of food.
If you find a baby bird and it looks abandoned, look around and see if its parents are nearby – they usually won’t be more than a few feet away. Even if you can’t find them, chances are they’re still somewhere nearby. The best thing to do is to place the bird somewhere out of harm’s way, like in a shrub or under a tree. If you can’t find its nest, put the bird on top of some tissues or other soft material, and then leave it alone. The parents will be able to identify their baby by scent, and they’ll come back to care for it.
Whatever you do, don’t try to raise a baby bird yourself. Not only is it extremely difficult, it also may be illegal in your town, and you may be fined. If you think a baby bird you’ve found is injured, or has been abandoned by its parents, call your local Game Warden, Animal Control agency, or animal welfare organization.
The NJ Beach Bird