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Bluebirds of Cane Ridge, Tennessee

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Our fave bluebird male CR44 pays us a second visit 11-15-21.
Choosing again to perch on the feeder pole watcing the mockingbird activity in the Japanese holly on the side of the house

Abandoned Nest - Orphaned Songbird

Before attempting to rescue a baby bird, you must make sure it is truly orphaned. Observe a nest you THINK might be abandoned for 2 hours before rescuing. Parents may fly in and out of nest within seconds while feeding. Nestlings can live 24 hours without food. See more on widows/widowers and what to do if one or both parents are gone.

If the bird is clearly orphaned, and does need to be rescued bring it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Some rehabbers are very busy (many mouths to feed, other jobs, etc.) and may not return calls right away.

In the interim:

Put the orphaned bird in a small box or bowl lined with a paper towel or coffee filter that can be changed out underneath, cover it lightly with a smooth cloth (this will help it conserve heat and prevent it from becoming even more stressed- darkness calms them down), and keep it warm (e.g., sit the container on a heating pad set on LOW or use a warmed sock filled with rice - see above.)
Keep it away from people and pets and avoid handling it, which will stress it out even further.
You should not put anything in the baby's mouth. NEVER give baby songbirds water or liquids - they can inhale it and die. Songbird nestlings get their moisture from food (unlike pigeons and doves.)
Do not put food or liquid into the container - baby birds do not feed themselves.
Never feed anything to an animal that is debilitated or dehydrated - even if it is begging. Food fed to a cold bird can sit in its crop and ferment because their digestive system is shutting down. They need to be re-hydrated using a special solution, by a licensed wildlife rehabber.
It is best not to feed the bird - as noted above, they can go 24 hours without eating. Each type of bird has different dietary requirements. Most songbird nestlings eat insects, but some like House Finches don't.
If for some reason you are unable to immediately find a wildlife rehabber that takes songbirds, you can feed bluebirds or other insect eaters for a day or two with some chopped mealworms (usually available at pet stores) or other insects (flies, crickets, grasshoppers, moths), supplemented with some chopped cooked (cooled to room temperature) egg whites (no yolk), ideally dusted with some crushed Calcium Citrate.
Use a pair of tweezers to put the food into the babies mouth.
Never feed earthworms to baby bluebirds - it can make them very sick or kill them.
Avoid waxworms as they are big and could cause choking if fed to small birds, and are hard to cut up (they turn into a slimy mess.)
SOMETIMES it is possible to "foster" an orphaned bird into an active nest if it is the same species (e.g., a bluebird nestling in a bluebird nest), and the birds are the same age (or the orphan is a day or two older) - see more info.
I'll say it again - get any orphaned or injured wild bird to a licensed wildlife rehabber as soon as you possibly can. Do not attempt to raise a wild baby bird. Many are killed by good intentions and might have survived if brought to a trained professional. Under no circumstances try to make a pet out of a wild native bird.


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