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Hatchling or Nestling

I Found a Hatchling or Nestling Bird

Hatchling birds

What do they look like?

Hatchlings have:

  • no feathers
  • eyes closed

Nestlings have:

  • pinning (sheathed) feathers
  • eyes open
  • down tufts on head tops

The very best help a person can give a hatchling/nestling is to return it to its nest. If a dog or cat has come into contact with the bird or it is visibly injured, DO NOT attempt to renest. Call Greenwood Wildlife at (303) 823-8455.

Contrary to popular myth, touching or handling a baby bird will NOT discourage its parent from returning!

Can you find the nest or cavity the baby fell from?

  • If you see a nest in a tree or structure, return the baby to the nest. If you do not see a nest, check for a hole or cavity that the baby could have dropped out of.
  • Observe the nest quietly from a distance. If a parent visits the nest, the baby is fine and you have given it the best possible chance of survival!

What if the entire nest fell out of the tree, the nest cannot be found, or the nest is out of reach?

If an intact nest has fallen out of a tree with babies, gather the nest and babies. Place the nest in a berry basket or other drainable container, then wire it securely to the tree it fell from.

If the nest is not intact or cannot be reached/found find an appropriately sized container to place the babies in: for example, a plastic berry container without a lid. The container must be able to drain water out of it. Place all of the nest material in the container. If you cannot find any part of the nest, make one yourself by lining the container with grass, hay, or straw. It is very important that the nest is able to drain completely. It is important that the nest is as close as possible to the original site since parent birds identify babies by location. Then wire it securely to that spot (at least 5 ft. above the ground).

You will need to observe the nest quietly from a distance for at least two hours to see if the parents return to feed the babies. If a parent returns, the babies are fine.

If the parents do not return.

If the parents do not return after two hours please call Greenwood Wildlife at (303) 823-8455 to discuss what you observe and to decide with a rehabilitator what to do next.

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