If the nest is accessible then put the baby bird back and monitor to make sure the parent birds are still around. This might take a few hours of watching. If the parents have not returned by four hours, or night is falling then put the bird into a box and transport to the nearest shelter. Do not feed the bird, you can offer it some water, however do not force the bird to drink.
If the nest is not accessible then try to make a substitute nest for it and hang it as close to the original nest as possible and monitor to make sure the parent birds feed it. A nest can be made using almost anything from a hanging plant basket to a kitchen colander. It needs to be securely attached to the tree or fence.
If the parent birds are not around then ascertain if the caller knows what species it is; in the case that it is a native then phone a shelter which specialises in birds and inquire whether they are available to take the bird into care. If it is not native see Section 18 on Feral animals.
Caller doesn’t want to touch the bird, it’s mother won’t take it back.
Some people think that if a human touches a baby bird the parents will subsequently reject the chick. This is not the case. There have been cases where an injured chick has been returned to its nest days after its first rescue and the parents have taken it back. Magpies can be returned to their parents for up to 3 weeks. You can pick up the bird and return it to the nest (see advice above).
Some people do not like the idea of touching feathers. You can suggest that they wrap the bird in a towel to transport it or find a neighbour/friend to help.
If they will not touch the bird in any way ask them to place a box or basket over the bird to protect it from predation while a rescue is arranged.
Things to look for to identify chicks/babies
that should still be in the nest:
– large areas still pink, or with no feathers
– large areas of fluff
– bird cannot yet stand or perch strongly or move around on its own
– no tail feathers
A species adviser may be able to add more to the list
– is fully feathered, with plenty of adult feathers (may still look a little “naked” under the wings, and be a bit fluffy in places)
– (in most species) able to perch and stand fairly strongly and move around
– has visible tail feathers, although they will still be quite stumpy
During spring, many of Victoria’s young birds are going through the fledgling stage of their development. After fledglings emerge out of their nest, they can spend up to 2 weeks on the ground while learning to fly. During this period, they are still being fed by their parents and should not be interfered with unless obviously injured.