A nest-full of baby birds ready to be fed every 20 minutes. To feed all these hungry mouths, Wildlife Rehab and Release needs more volunteers! Photo by Ann Westling

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. March 26, 2019 – Spring is here and so is baby bird season. Wildlife Rehab and Release’s Intake Center will open on April 15th from 9:00 – 5:00, seven days a week, to care for injured or orphaned songbirds and to provide advice on what to do if you find a bird in distress. The Intake Center (530-477-5774) is located in the Brunswick Basin across the street from Taco Bell, next door to Walker’s Office Supplies.

If you do find a bird in distress, Janice Barbary, Songbird Rehabilitator for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (WR&R), suggests the following steps people can take to increase the bird’s survival.

1) What to do if you find a baby bird on the ground?

If a baby bird is on the ground, this may or may not be normal. WR&R recommends calling their Intake Center for advice (530-477-5774) after April 15. (Before April 15, call WR&R’s hotline at 530-432-5522.) A baby bird without feathers or feathers not fully grown in should not be out of its nest. Sometimes nestlings can be placed back in the nest, however a grounded nestling requires a thorough exam first to make sure the bird is not injured or sick. Often slightly older, juvenal birds leave their nest before they can fly well. It takes a week or so for them to practice flight skills while receiving food from the parents. These birds should be left alone unless they are in immediate danger from outdoor pets.

In the meantime:

2) Keep the Bird Warm, Dark, and Quiet

If the bird is injured or no parents are tending it, keep it in a WARM, DARK, and QUIET place. “To a tiny injured or baby bird, you look like a predator,” cautions Barbary. She advises folks to put it in an appropriate size box with small air holes and a lid; line the box with white paper towels adding crumpled paper towels around the edge to support the bird; and keep it quiet. Do not handle the bird. Do not give it anything to drink or eat as improper feeding techniques or the wrong food can kill it. Keep children and pets out of the area. While transporting to WR&R’s Intake Center, turn off any air-conditioning and the radio.

Additional Concerns

Cat-Caught Birds Need Care Immediately – It is especially important to know if there were cats in the vicinity and if the bird could have been “cat-caught”. Cat saliva contains a bacteria that is lethal to birds. Even if a bird escapes from the cat, it will likely die from infection or injuries unless treated quickly with antibiotics. During the spring, it is especially important to keep cats indoors to prevent predation on baby birds or small mammals.

Window Strike Injuries – If a bird flies into a window and is alive, but stunned, call WR&R immediately. Head trauma may be the result and medication to reduce/prevent swelling may be given before the bird is released.

WR&R Needs Additional Volunteers – Training on April 6

A Pacific-slope Flycatcher youngster is fed a meal worm by a volunteer. Photo by Ann Westling

An additional training for songbird care will be held on April 6 from 1:00 to 3:00 at WR&R’s Intake Center. This is an important training for all those wanting to volunteer at the Intake Center. As an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, WR&R needs more volunteers!

Every year, hundreds of injured or orphaned birds and mammals received care from WR&R. “Thank you to all the finders who brought songbirds into the Intake Center last year or called for assistance. We treated 419 songbirds last year, thanks to caring and concerned residents and our volunteers,” concluded Barbary.