If you find a nestling that has fallen from the nest, replace it if you can safely do so. Birds will not reject nestlings that have been handled by humans. If you can not safely replace the nestling in the original nest, a makeshift nest placed near the original may be an option. For more advice, call our hotline.


Young birds leave the nest before they are able to fly. This allows their tail feathers to grow outside the confines of a nest and gives them the opportunity to build strength by flapping their wings. Parents diligently tend to fledglings on the ground. Watch closely, and you’ll see the youngsters fluttering their wings and beg for food.

Fledglings look much like adult birds but with short tail feathers.

During the few days they spend on the ground, fledglings are vulnerable to cat attacks. We recommend that cats be kept indoors at all times for their own safety as well as that of wild animals.

Outdoor cats are vulnerable to predators, disease and parasites and have significantly shorter life spans than indoor cats.

Hawks and Owls

Hawks and owls build their nests in tall trees and the adults will vigorously defend their nest area. For renesting a hawk or owl, call our hotline at 336-785-0912

Hawks and owls are frequently hit by cars and found injured at the side of the road. Call our hotline for advice before approaching an injured raptor. Injured birds can often inflict injuries on humans with their beaks and talons.

Birds of prey are often lured to roadway by litter, which attracts rodents, a major part of their diet. One way to reduce the number of raptors hit by cars is to pick up litter.

Geese and Ducks

Geese, ducks and killdeer young are precocial, meaning they can eat on their own shortly after they hatch. Even so, goslings and ducklings spend several months with their parents, learning how to identify and evade predators as well as learning other survival skills. Geese and ducks will often foster the young that have been abandoned or orphaned. If you find orphaned young, please call a wildlife rehabilitator before handling or removing them. Precocial birds can become imprinted on humans, dooming them to a life in captivity.

It’s the law

Songbirds and birds of prey are protected by federal law and illegal possession can bring fines of up to $25,000 and prison time. Even the nests and feathers of songbirds and raptors are protected.

Save wildlife:
Keep pets indoors

Domestic cats and dogs pose one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife. Please keep cats indoors and keep dogs on a leash.

For more information on the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors Campaign, go to: