If you find a bird

Please remember that in Colorado, it is illegal to possess wild birds without a State and a Federal permit. Please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. (EWRC: 719-683-8152)

If any of the following is the case, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator such as EWRC at 719-683-8152. Leave a message with your name and phone number and we will call you back :

  • Cat or dog brought it in. (You won’t always see the damage from the cat but there is usually severe damage in the form of puncture wounds.)
  • The bird is bleeding.
  • The wing, leg or other body part has obvious damage.
  • The bird is wet and/or cold.
  • The bird appears weak and/or sick.
  • The bird had an obvious accident or trauma.


This little feller was left on someone's porch.

This little feller was left on someone’s porch.

If the bird is a nestling:

This is a bird without feathers, or with just a few feathers or down. Usually a pink bird, eyes closed. If the baby is injured, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

If uninjured:

1. Build a simple replacement nest* and put it as close to the original nest as possible. If you can’t find the original nest, place the replacement nest up in a tree, sheltered and shaded. The parents are likely very close by, watching. They can NOT smell your hands on the baby and will not reject the baby because you picked the baby up. They WILL reject a damaged baby, and they know it before we do. So keep handling to a minimum and put the baby back immediately.

2. Watch from a distance to see if the adults visit the baby. They will not visit the baby if they see you. If possible, watch from indoors. It may take a couple of hours for the adults to locate the baby and feel safe enough to approach the baby. If they are comfortable, they will likely continue raising their baby. If this happens, please leave the baby alone and know that you did the right thing.

Remember, we do the best we can but some babies, no matter how hard we try, don’t do well in rehab. The BEST parent for a bird is its OWN parent.

*A simple replacement nest can be made from a basket, a box with holes punched in it, a bowl or a plastic berry basket. Fill with chemically untreated and bug-free grass clippings, pine needles or hay. The important thing to remember is to place the nest as high up as you safely can and to place it out of the sun and elements. Keep it as close to where you found the baby as possible.

Please call us with any questions 719-683-8152.

If the bird is a fledgling

This is a bird with feathers and has left the nest. The bird will have a very short tail.

If the bird is injured, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

If uninjured, the parents are usually close by, watching and supplementally feeding the bird. This is the bird’s time to learn to fly and find food. This is also a very dangerous time in a fledgling bird’s life; they can’t yet fly well enough to get up high and away from predators. They will hop into bushes or other safe places to sleep at night.

1. The best thing you can do for this bird, if he isn’t injured, is to place the bird back in the bushes or up on a tree branch, and watch to see if the parents approach. If they do, and are taking care of the baby, the baby is probably okay.

2. Bring your dog and cat inside for a few days to allow the bird to learn to fly and find food. If it’s not possible to do this, please call us and we will try to figure out a solution that benefits the bird and you.

Our first orphaned Red-Tail Hawk baby of the season!  (His eye is fine, BTW.)

Orphaned Red-Tail Hawk baby (His eye is fine, BTW.)


First, resist the urge to put food or water in the beak!! Don’t do it.

Stress kills birds. Stress is the noise, the handling, and simply being in an unfamiliar situation for birds. They see us as predators. Keep the kids, dogs, cats, and other pets away from the bird. Place the bird in a cardboard box or pet kennel-NOT a wire bird cage-with a towel and put in a warm, dark, safe, QUIET place; outside, if possible.

Be Safe! Some birds bite, some birds grab with their talons, and some birds will go for your eyes with their long, pointed beaks. Always wear gloves and wash your hands, as well as your clothing and anything else the bird may have come into contact with, thoroughly. Wear goggles if working with a bird with a long beak. Understand that some birds may carry parasites and/or disease.

Baby ducks and geese: Do NOT take them home and put them in a tub full of water! Babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperatures and could get cold and die. Contact a wildlife rehabber immediately if you KNOW the parents are dead.

Improper food is a common cause of death of baby birds. Sometimes the damage isn’t readily apparent for several days, or even longer, when the baby begins to get weak and sick, or simply isn’t growing. We get many birds in this condition each year, and often times it’s too late to correct the problem. Remember-birds don’t drink milk, eat bread or oatmeal as their diet, and don’t eat what we eat.

Improper feeding technique can also kill birds. Opening up a beak and pouring food down it can cause aspiration, which is almost always fatal. Some birds do not gape and require gavage feeding or syringe feeding. Again, this may sound simple but it requires practice and experience to accomplish correctly.

Also remember that some birds imprint. Very simply put, this means that they see themselves as people and prefer the company of people. This often happens with ducks, geese, corvids, and raptors. This may seem cute initially but is a death sentence for the bird. As the bird matures and becomes hormonal, and wants to continue with the life cycle, the bird becomes stressed and frustrated. A bird may become aggressive and/or destructive. This is the time when people have usually grown tired of the bird, or for some reason or other no longer wish to keep the bird, which is ILLEGAL anyway. They either release the bird to “be free” or try to find someone else (a rehabber) to take the bird. Understand that an imprinted bird set free will perhaps be killed off by its own kind because they know it’s “defective” or will be chased away from a good territory. This bird may never mate. This bird may starve. This bird probably doesn’t know how to recognize a predator, find food, or may not even be physically prepared for life in the wild. Releasing an imprinted bird (or mammal, for that matter) is cruel. An imprinted bird may fly to humans and scare the human, resulting in injury or death to the bird.

Remember that some birds form close family groups. Corvids (jays, crows, ravens) and raptors stay together for a time, learning and preparing for adulthood. It is important that these birds stay in their family units. They do apparently recognize their own.

Lastly, let’s remember that when we find an injured or orphaned wild animal, we are given an opportunity to DO THE RIGHT THING and to help an animal that may otherwise not survive. Please remember to always do the right thing and put their needs above our own curiosity.