What Do You Do if You Find a Chick on the Ground?

What Do You Do if You Find a Chick on the Ground?
Eugenio Fernández Suárez

Written and verified by the vet Eugenio Fernández Suárez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Before attending to a baby bird, you need to check if it’s lacking any feathers and find out what species it is. No matter what, the first thing to do is stay next to the animal and call a conservation center for help. 

During spring its breeding season for most birds. That’s why at this time of the year, it is common to find a chick unattended on the ground. What should you do when you’re in these types of situations?

A chick on the ground: what does it look like?

First, check the animal’s appearance. A chick without feathers definitely fell from its nest and needs help, while those that have feathered wings are already fledged and practicing flying.

If you know someone who is knowledgeable about birds, it’s a good idea to send them a photo.  Many of these birds are nidifugous, meaning they are species that naturally leave the nest as chicks while their parents still care for them.

A chick on the ground: observation

Unfortunately, most of the time when people find a chick on the ground, they pick it up and take it home. This is a serious mistake that can cost the animal its life. First of all, you must observe the chick and check to see if it’s hurt. If you see any blood or visible injuries, look for any local recovery centers and contact them. 

What should you do if you find a featherless chick on the ground?

As mentioned before, if you find a baby bird on the ground and it’s healthy, then letting it be to take its natural course is a priority.  Before doing so, you will have to verify several things.

featherless chicks on a door mat

If the animal is a newborn that doesn’t have its feathers developed yet, you will need to look for the nest. These birds cannot fly, so it should be very close. Once finding the nest, place the chick there. If you don’t find it, you can build a small nest to provide it protection.  Place the nest in a tree or high spot that pets and other animals can’t reach.

Next, stay put and keep an eye out for its parents during 10 to 20 minutes. If they don’t appear, call a recovery center and bring the bird to them.

What should you do if you find a chick on the ground with feathers?

If the bird has feathers and you recognize its still a chick due to having a ruffled plumage and the markings on the edges of the wings, then it’s a fledged chick. This chick still receives care from its parents while learning how to fly.

Normally you should let the chick be except if it’s in a dangerous place, such as a highway or near cats. If so, then put it in a safe place nearby in order for its parents to see it.


Swifts are birds similar to swallows, with gigantic wings for their small size. These birds eat and sleep wile flying, so they spend months without resting.

swift chick that falls to the ground

That is the reason why swifts are not designed to live on the ground. Sometimes, when they fall after hitting something, they are not able to get back up and fly again.

These birds just need us to lift them up or put them on a ledge in order to take flight again. If they aren’t capable of doing it, they are probably hurt even if nothing seems to be wrong with it. In such event, you should contact a recovery center.

If these centers don’t provide you any help, the last option would be taking the bird home. Find out what species of bird it is in order to know how to feed it, even though birds normally eat insects. Never feed them milk or bread. Once the bird has recovered, you can let it go.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.