Nest appears to be abandoned
It is rare for a nest to be abandoned. The older and more feathered the baby bird becomes, the less often the parent is sighted, and the quieter the babies are. When approached, the babies will get down and remain still and quiet. The parents zip in and out very quickly to feed. Someone must watch the nest constantly (from a distance) for a least 45 minutes to see if the parents return. If you know that one or more parents have been killed, contact a licensed rehabilitator in your area.
Children disturbing a nest
Try to Replace babies and/or nest. Warn children to stay away. If problem persists, refer to rehabilitator as the parents may abandon the nest.
Predators disturbing nest
House sparrows often will go into a nest box and eject inhabitants to take possession of the box. Sometimes putting up a another nest box will solve the housing crisis.
Black snakes, raccoons, crows, blue jays and many other predators raid nests and eat nestlings and eggs. There is usually nothing that can be done and nature must take its course. If a nest box is being used, there may be alternatives or design modifications – suggest the caller contact a bird store.
Unhatched bird eggs found
If an egg has fallen from the nest it may be returned if it has not been out too long. In general, if the mother has disappeared or a nest has been down for a while, dispose of the eggs. Eggs can only be left at most a couple of hours without brooding. There are 3 factors to proper egg hatching, and there is not much known about the successful combination of these factors:
- Rotation: the mother turns the eggs several times a day
- Humidity: a proper range must be maintained
- Temperature: ???
If you are not convinced by above, know that even if the egg should hatch, the baby bird is not likely to live. Birds that are not raised by their mothers during the first three days have a very high mortality rate. This is because during the feeding process the saliva of the mother transmits natural immunities to the babies. Without this immunity transfer from the mother, it is unlikely the baby will live more than three days anyway.
Nest in an unsafe or undesirable place
In general, remember that bird nests may not be disturbed if there are eggs or babies in them (Federal law). The only exceptions are pigeons, European starlings, and English sparrows. If the eggs are not yet laid, it is fine to tear down the nest. The bird will attempt to rebuild it but eventually should give up and build elsewhere.
Nest in parking lot, on sidewalk, rooftop, etc.
Killdeer like pavement for nesting and will build nests in parking lots, construction sites, etc. Other birds which nest various places on the ground include quail, ducks, and geese. The nest must be left alone, but may be protected by barricades or signs.
Canadian geese in particular frequently build nests on top of parking structures, on balconies, or across busy streets from water. They will build where they can see water, but may have difficulty getting the unflighted goslings to the water after they hatch. Get a group together who will assist the family in getting to water (approximately 28 days after the mother begins to sit on the nest). See duck and goose information.
Birds in vents and gutters
Birds in vents and gutters are most likely to be starlings and house sparrows. Mothers build nests in these locations; they are rarely trapped. If possible, encourage people to wait approximately 3 weeks until babies leave the nest, clean out the debris, and screen the vent.
If the nest has to be moved, or falls out, they can make a new nest in a clean one gallon container (preferably with cap on) with a hole cut in the side for the mother to get in and drainage holes in the bottom, filled with the old nest or grass, etc. They should hang it near the entry hole outside of the house (out of direct sun), where the mother will pass by, and watch to make sure the parents return. If nest not accepted, refer to rehabilitator.
Birds in chimney
These occur in late July through mid August. They are chimney swifts, often mistaken for bats. Because they cannot perch like songbirds, chimney swifts must have deep shafts in which to raise their families and roost at night. They make a chattering or hissing noise which is sometimes mistaken for rats, bats or even snakes. Swifts eat mosquitoes and other flying-insect pests, and assure them that the noise will be gone within three weeks when the youngsters fly away. It is illegal to remove nesting swifts (even for chimney cleaning companies), but swifts migrate out in fall. Adults look like cigars with wings when flying.
Chimney swifts make a nest of saliva and sticks on one side of the chimney; the nest often falls down. The caller can make a nest from a basket and place it back up on the ledge above the flue, closing the damper. If the babies are cold, they must be warmed before replacing. The parents will come all the way down the chimney to feed. If babies can cling to side of chimney, they can stick the baby back up, close the damper, and the babies will work their way up the side of the chimney. If birds get into the house from the fireplace and can fly, follow instructions for birds trapped in the house, or corner the bird, pick it up and stick it back up the chimney.
Bird nests in hanging baskets
Water carefully around edges of basket, or allow ice cubes to melt around edge in hot weather.