Spring is in the air, and the coming months will be prime nesting season for wild birds. As the season progresses, young birds will fledge and may look like they need help. Many birds do not need rescuing at all. Before you act, learn as much as you can. If someone brings you a bird, first find out exactly where it was found. Most baby birds have anxious parents waiting nearby and can be returned to them. Birds (almost without exception) have no sense of smell and will not reject their chicks just because they have been handled by humans.
Nestling birds are not yet feathered. Their eyes may be open or still closed, and they may be covered with down or “pin” feathers (like quills) or may still be naked. These need to be returned to the nest if possible so that their parents can keep them warm.
Fledgling birds are mostly or entirely covered with feathers but may not yet be able to fly. They tend to hop around on the ground, often complaining noisily. These should be placed gently on a branch in the nearest shrub or tree, low but off the ground. Once people have cleared the area, the parents should return to feed the chick. Watch from a distance if you are not sure. Give them plenty of time.
Birds that are obviously injured, sick or very cold, or cannot be returned to the nest, will need the care of a specially trained wild-life rehabilitator. Unless you have a rehabilitator’s license, it is not legal for you to provide more than emergency care for wildlife.
The Zoo is not able to provide rehabilitation for a variety of reasons, but we can recommend a few of the local licensed organizations able to provide wildlife rehabilitation:
California Wildlife Center, 310/458-9453
Wildlife Care of Ventura, 805/498-2794
International Bird Rescue, 310/514-2573 (Although they are not local they have a large network and may even be able to pick up animals.)
Pasadena Humane Society, 626/792-7151
Wild Wings of California, 909/592-4900