Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America

Injured Birds FAQs

Q: Found a baby bird?

A: In most cases birds won’t need your help. Young chicks that have just left the nest (fledglings) may spend several days on the ground before they are able to fly. Typically parent birds continue to care for them and watch over them. You can help by keeping people and pets away. If you think a bird is truly an orphan, call a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions. If you find eggs on the ground it is not likely they will hatch even if replaced into the nest. If you feel a bird is inured call a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions.
For information about finding a wildlife rehabilitator please visit -


Q: I found and injured bird. Who do I call or Where can I take it?

A: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not have rehabilitators here on staff. Call your local veterinarian, humane society, or county or municipal wildlife agency to find the nearest qualified wildlife rehabilitator that can take and treat the bird. Or you could call the Regional FWS Migratory Bird Permit Office to locate a federally permitted migratory bird rehabilitator. You may also access the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) Hotline site or the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) site to help put you in touch with a qualified rehabilitator. While you are locating a suitable rehabilitator, keep the bird in a dark box in a warm, quiet spot. Do not disturb it or offer it food. Let it rest.

Q: Can I keep the bird and nurse it myself?

A: No. It is against the law to keep a bird, injured, orphaned, or otherwise, without the proper permits. In most cases, injured birds required specialized professional attention to survive and to be successfully reestablished in the wild. Maintaining migratory birds as pets is prohibited.

Q: How can I become a migratory bird rehabilitator?

A: A Federal migratory bird rehabilitation permit is required to rehabilitate migratory birds. Most states also require you to have a permit. To qualify for a Federal permit, you must have facilities that meet minimum standards, a veterinarian that will provide critical care, and the ability and knowledge to identify, manage, and care for animals. Click here for the regulations and application form for Federal rehabilitation permits.

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Last updated: May 2, 2014