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July 18, 2015 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Trapped in the Nest

In responding to a frantic knock on the door, I found my neighbor asking if I could help a bird trapped in their bird house. It was stuck in the doorway and couldn’t get out.

When I climbed the ladder to look in the house, I saw a fledgling House Sparrow with his leg tangled in the nesting material. All the other babies were gone; he was the only one left, and from his squawking sounds he was either injured or angry . . . or both.

Fledgling House Sparrow after rescue


I couldn’t pull him out the door because whatever he was caught in was twisted in more nest material towards the back. I had to hold him still with one hand while pulling excess nest material out of a small hole at the top of the roof.

Nesting material caught on the bird’s leg

Nesting Material

Eventually I discovered he was caught on some twine. Once I loosened the twine through the top of the box, I was able to get the bird out the door of the box. The photo above is what was attached to his foot.

By wrapping the bird in a small towel I was able to untangle most of the remaining twine on his foot. I put him in a small carrier and let him rest on my backyard deck for an hour. My goal was to get him back to his parents as soon as possible . . . but only if he was uninjured and his leg was ok.

Mom House Sparrow hears her baby


Within an hour he began chirping and calling out. A group of sparrows soon appeared on the deck and a female perched on the flower box a few feet from the fledgling, calling out to him. I assumed this was mom.

A second attempt to fledge


With mom’s urging he jumped out of the carrier and onto the deck, eventually hopping to safety in the nearby wildflower garden. I saw him again the next day in the vegetable garden; I could identify him by the tiny piece of twine that I couldn’t remove from the top of his leg.

Safe with mom in the garden


Because this was a House Sparrow, I was able to care for him after I rescued him from the nest box. Had this been a native or migratory species, I would have taken him to the wildlife rehabilitation center where they are licensed to treat wild birds. In my county, the center will not accept non-native birds such as House Sparrows or Starlings, so I was able to legally provide care and assistance. Thankfully the result was a happy ending.

What to do if you find an injured bird

Find a small box with a cover and line it with some paper towels and place the bird inside. Contact a local Wildlife Rehabilitator for further instructions. Do not try to feed the bird or give it water.

If the bird has struck a window and is stunned, put it in a box with the lid closed and place the box in a dark, quiet, safe place for an hour or so. This will aid in recovery from a concussion. After an hour, bring the box back outside and if the bird is ok it will fly away. If not, contact the wildlife rehabilitators.

Keep in mind federal, state and provincial legislation makes it illegal for unlicensed individuals to care for virtually any native bird species. I have seen the sad results of people who tried to “keep” a robin or blue jay only to turn it in weeks later – too late to be rehabilitated and released, and now doomed to a life as a cage bird.

I am happy to answer bird questions . . .

Just send me an email or leave a comment.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Vicki / Jul 18 2015 10:51 am

    I once took in 3 baby birds whose mother had died. They were in a tree in our yard so we took them in the house and I fed them etc. They were so tiny but they sure could eat.


  2. laurelrainsnow / Jul 18 2015 10:54 am

    Wow, what an adventure, and how great that you had a happy ending, including a reunion with the family. Thanks for sharing.



  3. gh0stpupp3t / Jul 18 2015 12:01 pm

    That is the sweetest thing. ❤


  4. irene / Jul 18 2015 1:50 pm

    I never knew any of this legal stuff, not that I have all that many birds to rescue. A good number of birds visit my pond, but they seem to be fine after they’ve splashed about. thank you for your info. I must look up the rescue center.


  5. Mary / Jul 18 2015 6:39 pm

    What a story, Leslie. How lucky for the bird that your neighbor came to you for help. Thanks for the rescue info.


  6. Louise / Jul 18 2015 7:47 pm

    What a fabulous rescue, and wonderful post with important information Leslie. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a young sparrow- interesting his yellow edged beak- it makes him look sad- I’m sure he was sad at the time. Well done on a wonderful rescue.


  7. BermudaOnion / Jul 18 2015 8:04 pm

    I’m so glad your neighbor thought to come get you!


  8. Diane / Jul 18 2015 8:07 pm

    Oh my goodness, you are such a kind and caring bird-lady. Bless u


  9. Suko / Jul 19 2015 11:52 pm

    Leslie, you expertly helped these lovely birds. Thanks for an altogether wonderful post! I will keep your post in mind if I see an injured bird.


  10. Beth F / Jul 20 2015 8:15 am

    Wow, I didn’t know anything about the regulations and I wouldn’t have known what to do to help that poor little bird. I’m so happy you were there


  11. Melinda / Jul 24 2015 1:06 pm

    You are a hero! Great job saving that little guy (or gal?)



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