Spring is in the air and birds are nesting. It is not uncommon to find baby birds on the ground this time of year, and Atlanta Audubon Society receives many calls each spring from well-meaning citizens who have found a baby bird and want to help.
“In many instances, the best way to help a baby bird is to leave it alone,” says Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation for Atlanta Audubon Society. “Fledgling birds hop out of their nests before they are fully flighted and their parents will tend to them on the ground. If you find a young bird with feathers on the ground, chances are very good the parents are nearby and looking after the bird. As long as the baby is not in danger from cats, dogs, or traffic, leaving it alone and observing from a distance is generally the best course of action.”
On occasion, featherless hatchlings fall out of the nest due to high winds, predators, or other causes. These birds are not ready to leave the nest and should be returned to the nest if possible. Parent birds WILL NOT abandon a baby bird that has been handled by humans. If it is not possible to return the hatchling to the nest, constructing a make-shift nest out of a berry basket or small plastic container and placing it in a tree is often all that is needed. Parents will often tend to the baby in the new makeshift nest.
If the baby bird appears to be injured or, if after an hour of distant watching, the parent birds are not observed tending the youngster, then calling in a wildlife rehabilitator may be appropriate. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators may be found on the DNR, Wildlife Resources Division website at
It is illegal to possess a wild bird without a permit. Baby birds require specialized, full-time care, so it is important that well-meaning individuals do not try to raise the bird at home.
Atlanta Audubon has created a flow chart to guide you if you find a baby bird on the ground. To view the chart or for additional resources, please visit