Please...please...please contact Spirit Filled Wings before removing a baby or young bird of prey. Survey the area, look and listen for parents, and use the photos below as a guide to help you in your decision Every year branchers and fledglings are removed and they do not need to be. However, any hatchling or nestling absolutely needs to be removed. Locating the nest and putting the bird back is always our first choice, however, please do not do this on your own. There are many criteria involved in doing this, therefore, if you remove a young bird, take special care in not letting it look at you, do not handle it, keep it in a small cardboard box that is closed or covered and contact Spirit Filled Wings immediately.
If you are unsure, you may take and send a single photo to 248-953-5690, so that I can identify it and provide direction. Please stay with fallen bird while waiting for a response from me. If I am unavailable, and you must leave the area, pick up bird, following the guidelines above, so that we can get it back, if possible.
Thank You, Linda Born, permit holder
It is not unusual for raptor babies to end up on the ground. It can be for many reasons:
nest could have been raided, birds are moving around as they grow and simply fall. This bird is much too young to simply fall. His nest came down with a tree that was being cut down. Another hazard to spring born babies.
NOTE: This is a 1-2 day old Eastern Screech Owl (ESO) hatchling. A bird this young will not survive on the ground even if parents continue to feed it. This bird would need to be picked up (and re-nested by a professional)
This bird is also an ESO (baby) from the same nest as the photo on the left. Also, too young to be left on the ground. NOTE: ESOs can have 5-7 eggs, which are laid 1-2 days apart. So you can have various sizes in one nest.
NOTE: Birds of prey are excellent parents! They do not kick sick or deformed birds out of the nest. If they fall from the next, parents will continue to feed and fiercly protect the young birds. The birds are at risk on the groud from: humans, cats, dogs, raccoons, and exposure to tempertures. We re-nest as many young as we can. If we cannot renest, foster birds are used both in the wild and captivity.
Same 2 birds, older now. Still downy, still depending on parents, getting ready to fledge (leave) the nest, but still vulnerable if on the ground. Feral and outside house cats injure and kill hundreds of these birds yearly.
Again, ESOs. At this age, the birds are learning to use their wings, are called 'branchers' as they bounce around fro branch to branch, exercising and learning as they go. Too young to be on their own, parents will continue to feed them if they fall to the ground. They often end up clinging to a window or door screen, as they can climb very well! Parents will often be seen nearby, coaxing birds back to nest site.
Nestling Cooper's Hawks and nestling Red Tail Hawks look very similar at this age.
Foster moms raise the young birds if they cannot be put back in the nest.
Most people equate baby bird with size. However, birds of prey come in all sizes. This is a juvenile, but full size Sawhet Owl. Smaller than an ESO.