Most baby birds don't need rescuing

Two baby sand hill crane chicks search for

Two baby sand hill crane chicks search for food along a road west of Pembroke Pines, Fla. Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (Credit: AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

This time of the year, I get this phone call time after time, all day long:

"Hello, there is an abandoned baby bird in my yard. Can you help it?"

"Does it have feathers and are its eyes open?" I ask.

"Yes!"

"Well it is not abandoned and does not need help. Just leave it alone, and its parents will feed it on the ground."

"But it is in the middle of my lawn!"

"Well then gently scoop it up into a shoe box and carry it to the back of your yard and place it under a bush so it is out of sight."

"But then the mother will not care for it if it has my smell on it" . . . and the conversation goes on and on.

When baby birds leave the nest, they cannot fly. They flutter out and hide somewhere in your yard. The parents feed them one at a time for a week or so until they can fly. So if you pick one up and bring it indoors, you have effectively kidnapped it. In addition, you have broken the law: Wild birds can be cared for only by those who have federal and state permits that allow them to do so.

The best thing you can do for the bird is to get it out of plain view to protect it from predators. Do not worry about leaving your scent on it (most birds have very little sense of smell.)

In certain rare situations, a wild bird does need help, for example if a whole nest fell out of a tree and the babies are blind and featherless.

If this is the situation, then you should get the babies to a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. To find one close to you, go to nyswrc.org/rehabbers.html

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