Fledgling Birds With Feathers That Can’t Fly

Before young feathered birds can actually fly, they jump out of the nest and spend a few days on the ground. These fledglings look like their adult counterparts, but with shorter tails. This is the time when they learn to forage and fly. They will practice their takeoffs from the ground and are often mistaken as adult birds with wing injuries because of their failed attempts.

Please be assured that this is a perfectly normal stage of development. A fledgling only needs help if there is visible sign of injury (a droopy wing, blood, problems standing). Also be aware that the parents are always in the area and will swoop down approximately once an hour with some food. This is a very quick exchange and you would likely need to watch carefully, without looking away, for several hours to be convinced that this bird has been orphaned.

We understand that you are concerned with the dangerous environment that the fledgling is in when on the ground (cars, dogs and cats in the area) but these birds have a better chance of surviving and living a normal life in the wild if they are reared by their parents, even with all the neighborhood dangers. Humans cannot teach these birds how to sing or recognize an alarm call – only their parents can do that. If you want to help these birds, keep your pets indoors or leashed and encourage others to do the same, at least through this fledgling period.