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If You See Me Hopping….

Photo credit: istock.com/Jennifer Yakey-Ault


Songbirds on Vancouver Island fledge on the ground, so they’ll spend three to four days on the ground. You may see a fully feathered bird that’s hopping around on the ground that can’t fly but it’s not in any sort of distress, it’s just the natural progression of things. Sometimes people intervene when they don’t necessarily need to and can cause harm.


What’s the most important way the public can help young songbirds? Keep your dogs and especially your cats inside.


Healthy fledglings can stand upright and will tuck their wings tightly against their bodies. If you should find a fledgling on the ground, answer the questions below. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, contact your local wildlife centre as soon as possible for advice:

• Are there bloody wounds, wet feathers, legs that aren’t bearing weight, drooping wings, or matted or highly ruffled feathers?

• Is the bird lying on its side or back or scooting along the ground on its stomach?

• Is the bird’s body or head tilting to one side? Is there blood around the nostrils?

• Is the bird cold to the touch and/or noticeably shivering?

• Is the bird in the wide open, nowhere near trees or bushes?

• Are other animals, such as dogs or cats, stalking the bird?


If you come across a fallen nestling who isn’t injured, shaking, or weak and you can locate the nest, use clean or gloved hands to place the bird back into the nest quickly.

If you can’t see or reach the original nest, make one out of a small basket or box. Ideally the “nest” should be cereal-bowl shaped, well padded with tissue paper, and of a non-slippery material, otherwise the bird’s legs could spread out sideways and become deformed.


Fasten the nest in a sheltered area of the tree closest to the bird’s original location but out of range of any cats or dogs. Parents of nestlings will continue to feed them as long as they remain within 9.14 metres (10 yards), they’re responsive, and no people or threatening animals are lingering nearby.


Watch quietly for a few hours to make sure that a parent comes back to feed the nestling. If the parent doesn’t return, contact NIWRA for advice.

Do not offer the bird any food or water and do not attempt to care for it yourself.


You can help the wildlife in care at NIWRA by making a financial contribution on our secure website. Thank you so much for caring about wildlife!


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