If You Find A Baby Raptor

Help! I found a baby raptor. What do I do?

Is it a fledgling or a nestling?

If the juvenile is on the ground, hopping, and has feathers (and maybe some retained down), then it is a fledgling. Leave it alone unless it is in immediate danger.  Young raptors will commonly spend time on the ground as they become conditioned for flight. It takes some time to strengthen their flight muscles and be able to sustain flight.  The parents should still be around and will feed them.  If you watch them for a few hours and do not see a parent, then please contact us. 

If the juvenile is mainly covered in down, then it is a nestling.  If possible, put the bird back in the nest. Contrary to popular belief, raptors do not have a great sense of smell and touching the baby will not deter them from tending to it.  Often, a raptor’s nest is very high up in a tree.  If you are unable to place the bird back into the nest site, then please call us at (704) 875-6521 x111 and LEAVE A MESSAGE. We will return your call as soon as we are able, and we can talk you through it. This typically involves placing a sturdy basket with ample drainage somewhere lower in the nest tree or in a nearby tree.  You will secure the nest well and then place the baby inside of it. You will then watch over the next few hours, from a distance, to see if the parents return. 

Is the fledgling or nestling abandoned/injured?

If you have watched the chick closely and have not seen the parents in hours, or if you think the bird might be injured, then here is some advice:

Call us and LEAVE A MESSAGE if you are in our area (704) 875-6521 x111 or if not, call your state natural resource department or local rehabilitator for consultation.  

If you find an injured adult raptor... More info.

If you find an injured songbird... More info.

If you find other injured wildlife... More info.