Stumbling across a stranded or abandoned baby bird can immediately tug on the heartstrings of many birders. As conservationists and bird lovers, we naturally want to do everything we can to help bird populations flourish for many generations to come.
The fact of the matter is, in many cases, these solo birds are rarely lost or abandoned, in fact, unless storms or natural disasters occur, it is very rare that young birds will actually fall from their nests. Upon discovering a baby bird on its own, you will need to immediately assess whether or not the bird is actually orphaned. Many times a parent is very close by while the baby is attempting to fly.
Upon leaving the nest, young birds are unable to fly and typically will jump and hop from tree branch to tree branch to get around. For this reason, it is not hard to imagine them easily miscalculating a jump and landing on the ground.
The first step in assessing these birds is determining as to whether your bird is a nestling or a fledgling. The easiest way to make an educated guess is by gently picking up the bird and allowing it to perch on your finger. If the grip is too weak to grip your finger, you are holding a nestling; a strong grip would indicate a fledgling. Fledglings should always be placed in a nearby tree or bush and left alone; the parents are likely close by and will pick up where you left off.
If however, you have stumbled upon a nestling, do your best to locate the nest, as it should be fairly close by, but likely well-hidden. If you can locate the nest, gently place the bird back in it, if not, try and line a very small nest-like container with Kleenex and place the basket, with the bird inside in a nook of a nearby tree. Again, the parents are likely very close by and usually will tend to the nestling right away once you leave it alone.
Take extra precautions if you have animals like cats and be sure to keep them indoor for a few days to ensure the young bird is properly nursed back to health.