Saving Songbirds

This happened two weeks ago, but I didn’t have time to write about it then, so I will write about it now.

Two Friday nights ago I was spending the afternoon with friends who dropped me off at home after having nicely let me carpool with them. I got out of the car and discovered two baby birds on the ground beneath the tree in my front yard. The parents were right there, feeding or encouraging them, so I left them alone, assuming they were simply learning to fly. I then noticed a bulbul, which tends to be a bullying bird, in the area of their little nest and I realized they’d been pushed out too early. Lifting them* gently, I set both babies on the highest part of the tree I could reach and then went inside. One of them fluttered a little so I could tell it was on the cusp of flight, but the other simply hopped and didn’t even try to move its wings.

Two hours later, I went outside to water the plants; I try to wait until just as the sun sets so the water doesn’t evaporate before the plants can absorb it. As I reached for my hose, I found the non-flighted baby bird sitting on it! I put him back in the tree again, but it was starting to drizzle and growing dark all too quickly. Songbirds** take shelter as soon as it’s dark and I didn’t see any sign of its parents.

So I scooped the baby back out of the tree and cuddled him in my palm, where he promptly fluffed himself, tucked his head under his wing and went to sleep.

I carried the bird baby inside and looked up the local bird rescue place to ask for advice. I was given a website with instructions on how to create a nest for the baby overnight with a heating pad and a towel, so I set him up with a little bunk in the downstairs bathroom (the door closed to keep him safe from kitties). My instructions said to return him to the exact place where I found him at dawn the next day, so I made sure he was asleep and then I went to bed.

First thing in the morning, I got up and found that he’d hopped out of his little bed and across the bathroom floor, but was otherwise perfectly okay. I took him outside and placed him on the tree and waited.

Baby white eye

And waited.

And waited.

And finally after about 20 minutes, the two parents appeared in the tree. They were singing and calling out to him and it only took them a few minutes to find him on his branch. They brought him some breakfast and then the pair of them took turns encouraging him to scramble and then flutter all the way up the tree, and back into his nest.

Baby and parent white eye

I haven’t seen the birds since, but that’s not a bad sign. Chances are he learned to fly within a day or two and they simply haven’t been on the ground since.

So that is my latest animal rescue story. And if you ever find a baby bird, the best thing for it is to return it to its nest! The next best thing is to find a rescue that can take it. ^_^


*Contrary to popular belief, a parent bird will not reject a baby if a human touches it. Birds cannot “smell” if the babies have been touched because most of them have no sense of smell (vultures being an example of an exception). ((Further poking into this topic shows that scientists are now unsure, but that some may have a better developed sense of smell than others. Baby birds will not be “rejected” regardless of this, however.)) The main problem in picking up baby birds is in removing them from the place their parents left them– if the parents cannot find the babies, they cannot feed the babies. The other issue can be if you don’t know how to pick up a bird, or if you frighten it too much (so that its heart races) it can have a heart attack. Slow and gentle is the key.

**This particular species of songbird is called the Japanese white-eye. ^_^

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