Rescuing Infant Birds

Baby Birds in a Nest

Important Note

Only adults should rescue infant birds. Before rescuing adult birds, seek guidance from a wildlife rehabilitator.

How to Rescue Infant Birds

  1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth with no strings or loops on the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn’t have air holes, make some. For smaller birds, you can use a paper sack with air holes.
  2. Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some birds may stab with their beaks, slice with their talons (claws) and slap with their wings, to protect themselves, even if sick. Birds commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and carry diseases
  3. Cover the bird with a light sheet or towel.
  4. Gently pick up the bird and put it in the prepared container.
  5. Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal is chilled. Put ONE END of the animal’s container on a heating pad and set on low. Or fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink container with a screw lid, or a rubber glove with hot water; wrap the warm container with cloth and put next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak, or the animal will get wet and chilled.
  6. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.
  7. Note exactly where you found the bird. This will be very important for release.
  8. Keep the bird in a warm, dark, quiet place.
  9. Don’t give the bird food or water.
  10. Leave the bird alone; don’t handle or bother it.
  11. Keep children and pets away.
  12. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible.
  13. Don’t keep the bird at your home longer than necessary.
  14. Keep the bird in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
  15. Wash your hands after contact with the bird.
  16. Wash anything the bird was in contact with – towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier – to prevent the spread of diseases and/or parasites to you or your pets.
  17. Get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

View the Rescue Infant Birds document (PDF).


It’s against the law in most states to keep wild animals if you don’t have permits, even if you plan to release them.

Healers of the Wild

From Healers of the Wild: People Who Care for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife by Shannon K. Jacobs
Copyright 1998 Coyote Moo Press
PO Box 6857
Denver, CO 80206 
Phone: (303) 316-4633