SALT LAKE CITY — It is not unusual to find a baby bird on the ground this time of year as many birds leave their nests before they are able to fly.
If you find a baby bird on the ground, the most common of which are robins or swallows, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources offers this advice:
• Put it back in the nest if it doesn’t have feathers. If the nest can’t be found, put the bird on a branch safely out of reach of dogs and cats.
“The baby will squawk and its parents will find it,” Blair Stringham, the division’s migratory game bird program coordinator, said in a statement.
Stringham said not to be concerned about leaving your scent on the bird. Most birds do not have a good sense of smell, so if you pick a baby bird up, its parents won’t even know you’ve handled it.
• Never take a baby bird home. Most birds are protected by state and federal laws, and it is against the law in Utah to possess wild animals without special permits.
• Don’t feed the bird. Bird have a specific diet, and feeding them something that’s not part of their diet can kill them. “For example, many people are surprised to learn that robins are among only a handful of birds that can safely eat worms,” Stringham said, adding to just place the bird back on its branch or in its nest and let its parents feed it.
• If it has feathers and is hopping around, leave it alone. Young birds that have most of their feathers are close to taking their first flight. The “hopping” stage typically lasts two to five days. If the fledgling is in immediate danger, move it carefully to a safer spot nearby. Its parents are watching and are still feeding it.