Wildlife center sees spring spike in sick, injured baby birds

SALT LAKE CITY - You’ve probably heard the familiar sound of chirping in the trees this spring, as nest-cradled eggs hatch into baby birds.

That also means more people are finding sick or injured birds in their yard, and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah said they’ve been taking in dozens of winged animals each day.

“We've been seeing up to 40,” said co-founder and board chair Buz Marthaler, of how many birds are coming into their center every day.  “We had two, 40 days and a couple that were close to that in the last week.”

In the next three weeks, he said they’ll be taking care of 500 birds in their facility at any given time.

Volunteers run on a tight schedule when it comes to feeding the young birds.

“Forty-five minutes, the timer’s going off,” he said, of songbirds. Marthaler said hummingbirds are fed every ten minutes on the dot.

Right when volunteers took a break between feedings, a woman walked in with her daughter carrying a box.

A volunteer lifted a starling out of the box and examined him.

“He's not feeling good,” the volunteer concluded. “He's pretty skinny and he’s super dehydrated.”

The woman, Ogden resident Darlene Nelson, said she found the bird at her mother’s house just a couple hours prior to bringing him in.

“It wasn't flying,” she explained. “It was just barely just sitting at bottom of the stairs.”

The bird was taken into the back room.

Marthaler said many birds they take in are sick or injured, and most of that is human-caused. It takes three months, on average, until Marthaler said they can release the birds back into the wild.

When spring hits, he indicated many people trim their trees and end up chopping down nests.

He pointed to a piece of a hollowed-out tree trunk sitting in their lobby.

“Inside it, were I think five screech owl babies,” he explained. Unfortunately, he explained that three of the baby owls did not survive the tree trimming. They’re now taking care of the other two.

That’s why Marthaler suggests people check their trees before trimming or hold off until after baby bird season—like the summer or fall.

If you do find a baby bird in your yard, Marthaler said you can pick it up and put it back in the nest if it appears healthy.

He said for birds that seem sick, injured or in danger, people should pick the bird up and place it in a box where it’s quiet and dark.

The person can take a picture and send it to the center or give them a call, he said.

Click here to get in touch with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.