I Found a Fledgling Bird


Fledglings have left their nest and they are learning to fly. Please do not assume that these birds are orphans! Stop, look, and listen!

What do they look like?

Sometimes fledglings look like baby birds because they have down showing or their tails are very short or they have a different coloration than their parent. Other fledglings look just like their parents. Fledglings can remain on the ground for up to seven days!

How do they act?

Fledglings that have just left the nest are both learning to fly and developing their flight muscles. They often fly in a downward trajectory and land on the ground, where they may rest and regain their bearings. It is difficult for newly fledged birds to fly upwards; they often can only fly or hop as high as low-lying bushes or branches, where they hide until a parent comes to feed them.

Is the bird really orphaned?

If an adult appears and feeds the bird, it is not orphaned and the bird should be left alone, even if it seems like you should try and help the animal. You must take time, at least two hours, to quietly observe the bird from a distance in order to determine if it is orphaned.

The fledgling should be able to walk, hop, and fly short distances at least along the ground. If it cannot do this, it may be injured and need help. If the fledgling has had contact with the mouth of a dog or cat, or if there are obvious signs of injury, it should be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Every year Greenwood Wildlife receives fledglings that are not truly orphaned. Even though it seems like a dangerous world out there for a fledgling, their best chances for survival happen when they are raised by a parent. Please help prevent “kidnapping” of fledglings that are not orphaned by taking the time to determine if the animal really needs your help before transporting it to us.

What to Do

If you come across a fledgling that appears to be injured or ill, please call Greenwood Wildlife at (303) 823-8455 to discuss what you observe and to decide with a rehabilitator if the animal you see needs help.

If you determine that an animal needs to be brought to our facility, please follow these instructions for capturing and transporting animals.