|Baby Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Secor Metropark)|
Kate Zimmerman is the Education Director at Black Swamp Bird Observatory. She previously helped me with a post about the Ohio Young Birders Club. I took Ruby to a bird banding event at BSBO a while back, and it was Kate that was kind enough to let Ruby release an Ovenbird back into the wild. It made her day. I emailed Kate about the baby bird topic, and after consulting with her colleagues, she got back to me with a step-by-step process for caring for a baby bird.
What to do with a baby bird who has fallen from it's nest?
1. Check to see if the baby bird is alive.
2. If you can find the nest that it fell out of and are able to safely return the baby to the correct nest, then do so. It is a myth about touching a baby bird, and the mother not caring for it because it has human scent on it. Birds have a very limited sense of smell except for Vultures, who have an excellent sense of smell.
3. If you are unable to find the nest, the next option is to contact a wildlife rehab center in your area. Most wildlife rehab centers will need you to transport the bird to their location. The best way to transport a baby bird is to gently place it in a container lined with soft material (ex: a washcloth works well). A small box or container with vent holes will do. Some baby birds will try to "hop" around depending on it's age, so be sure to have a box or container with high enough sides so it doesn't accidentally escape the box.
4. A very important note: The rehab center will know the correct type of food for the baby bird. Do not try to feed the bird yourself. For example, baby birds cannot eat seeds like adult birds. Also, do not try to pour water into the baby birds beak. It is very easy to get water into their lungs by mistake. The best thing for the baby bird would be to safely transport it to the rehab center as fast as possible.
There are two wildlife rehab centers in Northwest Ohio:
Back to the Wild in Castalia, OH (419-684-9539) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nature's Nursery in Whitehouse, OH (419-877-0060)
Many people have an immediate need to try and do something for such a helpless creature. There's nothing wrong with having such an impulse. Just make sure you keep the bird's health and welfare in mind when trying to help. Follow Kate's advice and perhaps you could save a tiny little life.