How to Tell If a Baby Bird is Dying in 3 Steps

The Animalista bird laying on its back
Roughly 10,000 different bird species live on our planet. Unfortunately, they can also suffer from various injuries or illnesses so here is how to tell if a baby bird is dying

Roughly 10,000 different bird species are living on our beautiful planet. They breed, care, learn, explore, and enjoy the adventure of life, just like us. Unfortunately, just like us, they can also suffer from various injuries or illnesses. Baby birds are especially vulnerable and fragile to the outside world while they are still growing. If you would to encounter a baby bird that is abandoned or in another worrying state, it is more than important to know if its in danger, already injured or even dying. Encounters with baby birds in nature areas tend to happen quite often. So how to tell if a baby bird is dying? There are different aspects to this; therefore, let‘s take 3 easy steps to be ready to recognize such cases and possibly save a precious life.

Before We Start: It‘s All About Baby Bird‘s Behavior & Appearance

Before we get into stepping and learning more specific ways how to tell if a baby bird is dying, there is an important thing to point out.

It‘s all about recognizing the baby‘s bird behavior and appearance. Kind of obvious, it‘s true, but important to emphasize. While not every bird will show strong symptoms, the unhealthy appearance can give it away and vice versa.

Most of us can recognize the clearest and obvious signs such as blood or very weak and little movement in the bird. However, the baby bird can also show more subtle signs, such as breathing patterns and many more, which can indicate an underlying serious problem, sometimes resulting in death. Behavior and appearance are where the focus should be.

Step 1: Distorted Breathing Patterns

Respiratory issues are common among both pet and wild birds, just as it is among us, humans. This can be caused by many factors such as nutrition which can cause a lack of vitamins or block air sacs. Fungal and bacterial infections are also very present among birds of all kinds, especially when they are still weak and young as a baby would be.

Let‘s recognize some of the breathing patterns that are most common among sick or dying baby birds:

  • Puffing & panting breaths
  • Breathing with an open beak
  • Clicking or wheezing sounds
  • Discharge or crusts around the nares
  • A notable change in voice sounds
The Animalista baby bird screaming for food

Step 2: Signs in General Appearance

Our first step revealed one of the behavioral symptoms, but we also have to familiarize ourselves with the appearance if we want to know how to tell if a baby bird is dying.

Sick baby or any age birds can quickly give away their problems by visual appearance. It begins with how should a healthy baby bird look like after all that‘s the appearance we are the most familiar with. Clear skin or feathers is the primary aspect to look at as the body is small and there is not much more to look after.

However, if you want to tell if a baby bird is dying or sick, there are more details to pay attention to:

  • Dirty body and feathers
  • Visible wounds and injuries
  • Swollen membranes or eyes
  • Fluffed feathers when it is not cold
The Animalista pair of baby birds

Step 3: Various Injuries

Visible injuries are one of the best ways to know when and how to tell if a baby bird is dying or severely harmed.

We need to asses the situation first and then decide if the bird is in imminent danger of dying or suffering. Please note, that if a baby bird has fallen from the nest, but seems to be unharmed, you can always put it back gently.

Here are some most common and vital indications you need to know for injuries:

  • Burns and bite wounds
  • Active bleeding
  • Dried blood spots on the body or around it
  • The bird has fluffed feathers (if it has feathers yet)
  • Very quiet and dull behavior
The Animalista human holding baby bird

Before We End: Assess the Situation

Before making any decisions, assessing the situation at hand calmly and clearly should also be a prioritized action. Does the baby bird have feathers? Is it fledgling or a nestling? Is the baby bird active and alert? Does the fledging have healthy feathers? Questions are plenty, but first, let‘s distinct one from another!

Nestlings are tiny baby birds that almost doesn‘t have any feathers or sometimes none. Usually, they are still with closed eyes. Most of the dangers for them are accidentally falling out of the nest or being disrupted by harsh weather.

Fledglings are more grown-up babies who have feathers, hop around, and can even try to fly. For them, it‘s quite normal to be outside the nest, even before they can fly. Meanwhile, this stage in their developing lives is also when they are most vulnerable.

Observe from a distance, check if the parents aren‘t around to coach them, and assess the situation carefully without hurrying to make decisions. This will not only allow you to tell if a baby bird is dying but see if they are in danger to get hurt or are abandoned.

How to Tell If a Baby Bird is Dying: The Conclusion

Here we are! Three easy steps later, and we are much more familiar with baby birds and know how to tell if a baby bird is dying or is hurt. However, it is always good to remember that baby birds specifically are very tricky. Patches of bald skin, fluffy feathers, or loud crying can be normal for them. That‘s why we included a lot of points of focus so we make the right decision because after all, they have the best chances to survive in their natural habitat. Unless they are in truly big distress and danger, baby birds should always be left in the wild or with their parents to look after them.


By: Vytautas

Contributing Animalista

The Animalista contributors are animal people from around the world who use their writing talents to produce content that educates, entertains, and raises awareness for animal related topics.  


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