What To Do If A Baby Bird Falls From A Nest And Dies

Finding a baby bird under a tree after falling from the nest can be a sad and startling discovery. If the hatchling is unmoving, what should you do? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: If a baby bird has fallen from the nest and died, the best course of action is to gently pick it up wearing gloves or using a tissue.

Place the body in a paper bag or cardboard box and bury it 3-4 inches deep in the soil. This prevents predators from eating the body and diseases from spreading.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll provide guidance on how to handle this delicate situation. We’ll cover determining if the baby bird is alive or deceased, safe removal of the body, proper burial techniques, ways to prevent falls, and coping emotionally with the difficult find.

By the end, you’ll know how best to respectfully take care of a baby bird that perishes after an accidental fall from the nest.

Assessing If the Baby Bird Is Alive

When you come across a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, it’s important to first determine if the bird is still alive or not. This will help you decide the best course of action to take. Here are some key steps to assess if the baby bird is alive:

Check for Breathing and Movement

One of the first things you should do is gently observe the baby bird for any signs of breathing and movement. Place your hand near the bird and see if you can feel any breath or detect any slight movement. Sometimes, baby birds may be stunned or in shock but can still be alive.

However, if there is no sign of breathing or movement, it is likely that the bird has passed away.

Look for Injuries and Blood

Another important aspect to consider is if the baby bird has any visible injuries or blood. Take a careful look at the bird’s body and feathers to see if there are any wounds or bleeding. In some cases, injuries may be severe enough to cause the bird’s death.

If you notice any significant injuries, it is best to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for guidance.

Don’t Assume Based on Feathers

It’s important not to solely rely on the appearance of the baby bird’s feathers to determine if it is alive or not. Some bird species may have fluffy feathers that make them appear younger than they actually are. Additionally, birds may lose feathers due to stress or injury.

So, be cautious and don’t make assumptions based on feather condition alone.

Consider Height of Fall

The height from which the baby bird fell can also give you some clues about its chances of survival. If the fall was from a great height, it is more likely that the bird has suffered fatal injuries. However, if the fall was from a relatively low height, there may be a higher chance of the bird surviving.

This is not a definitive indicator, but it can be a factor to consider when assessing if the bird is alive.

Remember, if you are unsure about the baby bird’s condition or what to do next, it is always best to reach out to a local wildlife rehabilitator or bird expert for guidance. They will have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the most appropriate advice and care for the bird.

Safe Removal and Disposal of the Body

Use Gloves or Tissue to Pick Up

When a baby bird falls from a nest and unfortunately passes away, it is important to handle the body with care. Use a pair of gloves or tissue to pick up the bird, ensuring that you do not come into direct contact with it.

This is not only for your own safety, but also to prevent any potential transmission of diseases or parasites that the bird may be carrying.

Place in Paper Bag or Cardboard Box

Once you have safely picked up the bird, it is best to place it in a paper bag or a cardboard box. This will provide a secure and hygienic container for transportation. It is important to avoid using plastic bags, as they can cause the bird to decay faster due to lack of air circulation.

Bury 3-4 Inches Underground

After placing the bird in a suitable container, it is recommended to bury the body around 3-4 inches underground. This depth helps to prevent scavengers from digging up the bird and also aids in the decomposition process.

Choose a location away from high foot traffic areas to ensure the bird’s remains are undisturbed.

Disinfect Hands Afterwards

After handling the bird and ensuring its proper burial, it is crucial to thoroughly disinfect your hands. Use soap and warm water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to clean between your fingers and under your nails.

This step helps to maintain personal hygiene and prevent the spread of any potential pathogens.

Remember, it is important to handle the situation with compassion and respect for the deceased bird. If you are unsure about the proper disposal methods or have any concerns, it is always a good idea to consult with a local wildlife rehabilitation center or a veterinary professional for guidance.

For more information on the proper handling and disposal of deceased wildlife, you can visit National Wildlife Federation.

Preventing Future Falls from the Nest

Avoid Trimming Near Nests

One of the most important steps in preventing future falls from the nest is to avoid trimming trees near nests. Trimming or pruning trees during nesting season can disturb the birds and cause them to abandon their nests.

This increases the chances of baby birds falling from the nest and potentially dying. It’s best to wait until the nesting season is over before trimming any trees near nests. If trimming is necessary, it should be done by a professional who is aware of the presence of nests and takes precautions to protect the birds.

Monitor Pet Activity Near Trees

If you have pets, especially cats, it’s crucial to monitor their activity near trees with nests. Cats are natural predators and can easily harm or kill baby birds that have fallen from the nest. Keeping your pets indoors or in a confined area away from trees with nests can help prevent any unfortunate incidents.

Additionally, consider using deterrents such as motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic devices to discourage cats or other animals from approaching the trees.

Install Netting Below Nests

Installing netting below nests can be an effective way to catch falling baby birds and prevent them from hitting the ground. The netting should be placed a safe distance below the nest to ensure that the birds don’t get tangled in it.

This method has been successfully used in various conservation projects to protect vulnerable bird species. However, it’s essential to regularly check the netting and remove any trapped birds to avoid causing harm.

Leave Fledglings that Fall Alone

When a fledgling bird falls from the nest and appears healthy, it’s best to leave it alone. Fledglings are young birds that have left the nest but are still being cared for by their parents. They typically spend a few days on the ground learning to fly and forage for food.

Interfering with them during this critical learning phase can disrupt their natural development. However, if the fledgling is injured or in immediate danger, it’s important to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center for guidance and assistance.

By following these preventive measures, you can help reduce the risk of baby birds falling from nests and increase their chances of survival.

Emotional Coping with Loss of the Hatchling

Understand Death is Part of Nature

Dealing with the loss of a baby bird can be emotionally challenging, but it’s important to remember that death is a natural part of life. While it’s natural to feel sadness and grief, it’s also important to recognize that death is a normal occurrence in the animal kingdom.

Understanding this can help provide some solace and perspective during this difficult time.

Don’t Blame Yourself

It’s common for individuals to blame themselves when a baby bird falls from a nest and dies. However, it’s important to realize that accidents happen, and it’s not always possible to prevent them. Blaming yourself will only add to your emotional distress and may hinder your ability to heal.

Instead, try to focus on the fact that you did your best to help and provide a safe environment for the hatchling.

Memorialize if It Helps Your Grief

Creating a memorial or finding a way to honor the memory of the baby bird can be a helpful way to cope with grief. This could involve planting a tree or flowers in their memory, creating a small memorial plaque, or even writing a heartfelt letter.

By memorializing the bird in a way that feels meaningful to you, it can provide a sense of closure and allow you to remember the hatchling fondly.

Focus on the Surviving Siblings

While it’s natural to mourn the loss of a baby bird, it’s also important to shift your focus to the surviving siblings. By redirecting your energy towards caring for and nurturing the remaining birds, you can help ensure their well-being and give yourself a sense of purpose.

Watching them grow and thrive can bring a sense of joy and help alleviate some of the sadness associated with the loss.

When to Contact Wildlife Rehabilitators

Encountering a baby bird that has fallen from its nest and died can be a distressing experience. However, knowing when to contact wildlife rehabilitators can make a significant difference in helping other fall victims.

Wildlife rehabilitators are professionals who specialize in caring for injured or orphaned wildlife, including birds. They have the necessary knowledge and resources to provide the proper care and ensure the best chance of survival for these vulnerable creatures.

For Surviving Fall Victims

If you come across a baby bird that has fallen from its nest but is still alive, it is crucial to contact a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. These professionals can provide the necessary assistance and guidance to help the bird recover.

They will assess the bird’s condition, provide appropriate medical treatment if needed, and offer advice on how to safely return the bird to its nest if it is possible. Remember, attempting to care for the bird yourself without proper knowledge and experience can do more harm than good.

If Unsure How to Proceed

If you are uncertain about what to do when you find a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, it is always best to contact a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance. They can provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to handle the situation and ensure the best possible outcome for the bird.

It is important to note that not all baby birds that have fallen from their nests require human intervention. A rehabilitator can help you determine whether the bird needs assistance or if it is best left alone.

For Help with Prevention

Contacting a wildlife rehabilitator can also be beneficial if you want to learn more about preventing future incidents involving baby birds falling from their nests. They can provide you with valuable information on how to bird-proof your surroundings and create a safer environment for these feathered creatures.

Additionally, they can offer advice on how to identify potential hazards and take appropriate measures to mitigate them, helping to reduce the number of fall victims in the future.

If the Deaths Continue

If you notice a pattern of baby birds falling from their nests and dying in a particular area, it is essential to bring this to the attention of a wildlife rehabilitator or local conservation organization.

They can investigate the situation and determine if there are underlying factors contributing to the deaths, such as habitat loss, predation, or environmental pollution. Taking action and involving experts can help address the issue at its source, ultimately protecting the bird population and their habitats.


Discovering a baby bird perished beneath a nest after falling can be an upsetting event. By providing a respectful burial, taking appropriate sanitary precautions, and learning from the incident to prevent future deaths, you can find closure while also helping the surviving siblings thrive.

Focus on what is still within your power rather than what was lost.

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