by Calah Beckwith
Lead Wildlife Keeper
Each spring, we anxiously await the arrival of our first baby birds. Caring for baby birds is very difficult, delicate work, and it requires a lot of time and experience; but baby birds are also some of the most rewarding patients in avian rehab. There is nothing more fulfilling than watching a baby bird grow and thrive, and knowing that we have provided the proper environment, diet, and enrichment.
Though the reason for their abandonment was unknown, it was immediately apparent that one of the babies was struggling. His color was a bit pale, he was not begging for food, and he seemed to have a hard time breathing. Shortly after his arrival at the Wild Bird Hospital, this tiny bird died.
As both a bird-lover and a rehabilitator, these decisions are excruciating. My co-workers and I are passionate about our work, and we are dedicated to saving birds' lives. Every choice we make weighs every possible outcome, and we always strive to do what is most ethical and humane for the animal. Sometimes, this means we have to make difficult decisions that make us sad. Ultimately, we must understand that though our primary job is to help any wild bird in our care to heal, recover, and grow, another important part of our work is to know when to let them go.
It's hard to know what type of trauma these little ones experienced prior to their arrival at VINS. They may have had a hard fall from the nest and were suffering from internal trauma that we couldn't see, they may have gotten colder than their little bodies could tolerate (temps below 90 can be fatal), or they may have gone too long without food before their arrival at our hospital (feedings every 15-30 min are vital). What we do know is that once they arrived at VINS, they were given the best care possible.
So what can you do to ensure that baby birds have the best chance of survival? For nestling birds like the robins in this article, your first priority should be to keep the baby warm - then call the VINS Wild Bird Hospital at 802-359-5001 ext. 212. For detailed instructions on how to help a baby bird in need, click here to read Baby Bird Rescue 101.