Baby birds are called different names based on their age or species. With reference to age, they are called hatchlings, nestlings, or fledglings. Hatchlings are newly-hatched. Nestlings are older than hatchlings but are unable to leave the nest. Fledglings, on the other hand, are older baby birds that are ready to leave the nest. With reference to species, they have specialized names such as owlet, eaglet, duckling and the likes.
There are lots of baby birds during summer. During the season, it is quite likely for you to find them anywhere. You can find them in the parks while taking a stroll, in the woods when you go camping, or on the sidewalks. If you find one, you may move them to a safer and more comfortable place. If it is orphaned, you need to turn it over to a wildlife specialist.
There may be an instance that you will not be able to immediately turn it over to a wildlife rehabilitator. Thus, you will be responsible for taking care of the orphaned bird. You have to keep in mind that they need to be handled gently and carefully.
When you take in a hatchling or a fledgling, one of the most important things you need to provide them is heat. This is due to the fact that most baby birds do not have enough feathers to keep themselves warm. You have to at least try and imitate the heat that they were receiving in their natural habitat.
Below are things you may do to keep the baby bird warm.
Prepare a Nest Box
Try to imitate the former habitat of the baby bird as much as possible. Use wood to create the nest box. If you don’t have wood, you may use metal or cardboard. Fill the box with pine shavings or shreds of newspaper. This will serve as the bedding. It will provide more heat for the young bird.
It would also help if you lined the box with a piece of cloth. You can also place another piece of cotton cloth on top of the beddings. This will provide more warmth for the bird. Furthermore, you may place tissue paper on top of the cloth. This may have nothing to do with heat but it will make cleaning the box easier. Cover the box with a towel.
Another option for an improvised nest is an old baby carrier that is no longer used. A woven basket also does the job. There would be no need to fill these two with shavings. Just place some clothes in it and place a towel over it as a cover. Keep the box in a place that has limited lighting
Install Artificial Sources of Heat
Baby birds need the heat that comes from the body of their mother. The heat will provide comfort to the bird and will easily send the bird to sleep. Since the baby bird no longer has access to that heat, you need to create a substitute source. Fortunately, this won’t be a problem as there are a lot of options.
Before exploring the options for alternative heat sources, you need to know the standard heat that the bird needs. For those with pin feathers, the suggested temperature is 80-85 Fahrenheit. For those who have fully developed their feathers, they require 75-80 Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, fully weaned baby birds need 65-75 Fahrenheit.
One possible source of heat is a heating pad. This is highly recommended since you do not need to change it every now and then. Place it partially under the cloth above the bedding. This will allow the bird to move away from the heat source when it gets too hot.
Another possible option could be using a sock of rice or a jar containing hot water. The sock of rice has to be microwaved. The jar and the sock need to be wrapped in a towel or a cloth to make sure the bird does not get burned. Furthermore, they need to be reheated every now and then.
Heat lamps are not recommended. This is due to the fact that the light may harm the bird. However, they can still be used as a heater for the fledgling. You have to be very careful with the wattage and the distance. It is suggested that you use a 40-watt light bulb and keep it at least one foot away from the bird.
Human Body Heat
Providing heat through contact is not really a practical option. This can only be done for a few minutes. There should be minimal contact between a human and a bird to avoid the spread of germs and diseases. However, touching the bird from time to time will be able to provide the needed warmth for the bird when it is outside the nest box.
You also have to take note that touching the birds is only allowed for birds above twelve days.
Things to Consider In Providing Heat for the Baby Bird
Have a thermometer inside the box
Place a thermometer on the side of the box. This will help you monitor and adjust the temperature inside the box.
Keep the box covered when you are not tending to the bird
Birds in their early days need to have minimum exposure to light. This is to protect their eyes. Keep the box closed and away from lighting. However, it is best to use breathable cloth or towel to make sure the bird still gets enough air. You can also leave a small area open.
On a final note, keeping baby birds warm is a job that requires commitment and effort. Neglecting the bird may lead to it having health issues or death. You have to pay attention to the thermometer inside the box. If using rice socks and water jars, always have replacements ready to maintain the temperature inside the box.
As the days go by, you will get the hang of monitoring the temperature of the bird’s nest. Familiarizing yourself with the bird-warming routine will allow you to take care of your baby bird until it is ready to go out on its own or until the authorities come to take it in.