I found a baby/injured bird. What should I do?

If you’ve found a baby or injured bird in need of rescue, please call Project Wildlife for their advice, and in the meantime:

  • Keep in mind that to keep a wild bird, you need a permit. Don’t plan on keeping him. Help him, then get him to the experts at Project Wildlife. It’s such a shame we keep parrots as pets in cages. You can never give him enough in captivity to make up for what he will lose by not being in the wild. Wild birds are meant to be wild. Help get him back where he belongs.
  • If a baby has fallen from a nest, watch him from a distance for a while (maybe a couple of hours). The parents will normally come and care for the baby on the ground. If the baby is in grave danger (has fallen on a roadway, for example), try to put him back into the nest. It’s an old wives’ tale that his parents will reject him because of the human scent. Birds have amazing eyesight and hearing, but their sense of smell is only so so. The parents won’t reject the baby if you put him back in the nest.
  • If you have to rescue him, he may need to eat before you can turn him over to the proper authorities. Go to your local pet store and buy some Exact (or other brand) Baby Bird Formula and a plastic eyedropper. Prepare the baby formula carefully according to the directions, and use the eyedropper to feed it to the baby. If he doesn’t open his beak immediately, gently tap his beak with the tip of the eyedropper a few times, and he should open his beak. Gently drop some formula into his beak (don’t try to gravage feed him), and when he wants to swallow, give him a moment until he opens his beak again, and repeat. You can feed him until he no longer wants to eat, or until you see that his crop (the little bump under his neck above his breast) is bulged out a bit. Feed him frequently for a chick with no feathers, and up to every 2 to 6 hours for an older bird. As soon as you can, get him to Project Wildlife.
  • If he looks tired, and doesn’t open his beak, he’s sick and needs medical attention ASAP. Please get him to a vet for help. Vets cost money, so if you want to attempt to save a sick little guy, it may cost you. Ask the vets in your area if they voluntarily help with bird rescues (most won’t, but the best vets will — mine does). After he is well enough, take him to Project Wildlife, or the vet may call Project Wildlife and have him picked up.
  • If he appears too sick to move or eat, he’s probably close to death. Ask Project Wildlife for their advice. Otherwise, if there appears to be no chance to save him, keep him warm in his last moments of life and comfort him (and cry over him, if you’re like me).

Don’t forget: call Project Wildlife for their advice as soon as possible. I can’t say that enough. They are experts, and can help you help the bird. Do you have a cell phone? Put the number below in your cell phone right now, in case you ever need it.

Their website is


and their phone number is

Project Wildlife Hotline
619-225-WILD (9453)

— Dr. Mike

n.b.: If your vet’s office says, “we don’t treat [insert name of any animal here],” or if he won’t treat rescued wild animals, I recommend that you don’t take any of your animals to that vet. There is a vet 7 minutes from my home like that. She used to care for our dog, until one day I had a bird emergency, and took my bird there first. They wouldn’t care of her, and I had to take her to her regular vet 35 minutes away. Fortunately, she recovered. Now I take my dog to my birds’ vet. I think a vet who sees dogs and cats only can’t really care enough about animals that I would want to trust any of mine to her. There are a very few vets who will take in rescued wild animals, provide care, then call Project Wildlife to take them. Look for one of those because they are the ones who really love animals.

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