Spring is here a bit early this year, and the first of the baby birds have already appeared in our clinic! Every year, we hear of hundreds of young birds found and rescued outside. While some of them really are in distress and need help, most are not. Babies can be divided into “nestlings” (still in the nest, downy feathers, not able to fly or walk well) and “fledglings” (all adult feathers, look like miniature adults, walking well, but just learning to fly). Here is a quick guide to help determine when to get involved: 1. Nestlings that have fallen from the nest, but seem healthy otherwise. These may have fallen out accidentally, been blown out, or rarely, tossed out by parents. Quickly try to locate the nest, which will be nearby, and place the bird gently back into the nest. Parents will not reject young that have been touched by humans-that’s a myth! If the bird is found out of the nest multiple times, then it’s time to rescue. Note: if the nest has been blown out, you can attempt to nail a board with a shallow container to a tree branch and replace the nest in it as best as you can. The parents only need it for a short while until the baby birds fledge 2. Nestlings that have fallen from the nest, but seem weak or appear to be injured. These should be rescued. 3. Fledglings found hopping about in the yard, and appear healthy but can’t quite fly away. These are “teenager” birds that are out on their own, learning how to fly. The parents are nearby watching, and will help the young the best they can. Leave these birds alone. Interfering will not help the bird learn. 4. Fledglings that appear injured. These should probably be rescued. So how do you rescue the baby birds that really need help? Do not try to raise the birds yourself, as it’s tricky, and actually against federal laws that protect our songbirds. All injured or orphaned birds should be taken to one of our local licensed wildlife rehabilitators or dropped off at our clinic during regular business hours. See the “Wildlife” link on this website for more details.