Baby birds in nest without Mother

Asked June 21, 2016, 1:22 PM EDT

Hello-- I have a nest full of 5 nestling house finches, who we've been watching develop from egg-stage. The mother used to be there every day, and even after hatching, several times throughout the day. We have not seen her for 3 days and there is a dead bird on our front lawn that could be her. The babies are furry with some feathering, eyes are open, starting to flap their wings. They're craning their necks for food with beaks open throughout the day as I think they've gone without food for a few days. How should I feed them? I've already tried crushing sunflower seeds and sprinkling them around the edges of the nest, but I can't tell if they're being eaten or blown away. I've attached a picture. Please help!

Delaware County Pennsylvania

1 Response

The first thing you should do is determine if both parents are indeed no longer present at the nest. If the nestlings are still alive after several days, they may be getting food from another parent. If that is the case, they should be just fine.

Secondly, as hard as it may be, especially with the nest right at hand as it appears to be in your photo, abandoned nestlings and mortality are a part of life. We strongly advise against hand-raising abandoned baby birds. Not only is it extremely difficult and the mortality rate high, it is also illegal unless you have the proper state and federal licenses.

If you wish to persist in hand-raising these baby birds, I suggest you contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator who has been trained to care for sick, injured, and abandoned birds for more information or assistance.

The following information from Cornell University provides further information.

I hope this information proves useful to you and wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.