Baby birds: Their best help is no help

A baby sea eagle sits in a nest

A baby sea eagle sits in a nest at a wild animals park in Eekholt, northern Germany. (May 15, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Every late spring, my phone rings off the hook from callers who just found an abandoned baby bird hopping about on the ground and who want to bring it to me to be rescued.

However, if you see a baby bird on the ground that has feathers, has its eyes open and can hop about, don't pick it up and move it.

Baby birds sitting in a nest in a tree are targets for predators and it is their instinct to leave the nest and scatter about under bushes in the area. This way, if a predator finds one baby, then at least the others are not with it and they could survive. The parents go from baby to baby in turn and feed them on the ground. The babies hop about and gradually learn to fly and fend for themselves.

If the bird is in an open area and attracting unwanted attention, then gently move it to an area under some shrubs so it is out of sight. Do not worry about the parents not feeding it. The notion that a parent bird will not feed a baby that has been touched by human hands is just a myth.

The only time a bird needs help is when it is naked and undeveloped -- perhaps the nest was too crowded or the nest itself fell out of the tree and cannot be replaced. In those cases, you should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who has the special training and permits to help the bird. Otherwise, leave the bird alone.