Stranded, Dead, Sick or Orphaned Wildlife

Most bird species are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which governs how to handle sick, injured or orphaned birds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers guidance here.

It is never a good idea — and can be illegal — to disturb migratory birds or their nests. Birds flushed from their nests by humans or other predators do sometimes abandon their eggs or young. If that happens, do not further disturb the nest by trying to care for the eggs or young birds.

The best rule of thumb if you find any baby animal, including a bird, is just to leave it alone. The parents may be nearby, waiting for you to leave the area. Touching animals can also result in diseases passing from wildlife to humans, or vice versa. If you do inadvertently happen to touch a bird’s egg or nest, rest assured that your scent alone won’t cause the parents to flee. Just leave the area as quickly and quietly as you can, and do what you can to minimize your disturbance.

The following websites maintain lists of approved wildlife rehabilitation centers: