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DCL

Animals are always having misadventures in the movies. Look at the Fox and Hound or the Lady and The Tramp or the Muppets Take Manhattan. All those animals. All those misadventures. In the movies, misadventures can be fun and lead to a journey of heartwarming discovery. In real life, every misadventure can be an animal's last. A broken leg, a day without food, a baby separated from its mother can easily cause the creature's early death. Even if the animal does survive, they probably can't learn a heartwarming lesson from their misadventures in the way that humans can. Animals lose on all counts.

One animal that often finds itself in peril is the baby bird. They live up in trees. They can't yet fly. It's a recipe for disaster. Evolution is a jerk. So, the baby bird falls out of the tree. If it's not eaten by a prowling cat or gobbled up by some other predator, a human might come across it. Humans are a weird creature by all standards. There is no telling what a human will do. Some might try and eat the bird. Others will ignore it. Some will try to help it but hurt it. A few will try to raise it as their own. And others will do the right thing.

Here is the right thing to do according to the Wildlife Center of Virginia:

1. Before touching the bird check to see if it is wounded or bleeding. If it is, take it to the nearest veterinarian, wildlife veterinarian or rehabilitator.

2. If it is not bleeding, check to see if it is fully feathered. If it is fully feathered, it is probably just a fledgling. This is the bird's awkward age. It's the bird equivalent of being a teenager.

3. If it is not bleeding and it is not fully feathered, it needs to be put back into the nest. You may have to do a little research. You want to put the bird into the correct nest. If you are at the park, hopefully there is someone nearby with an internet phone or an avid birdwatcher friend. Here is a list of common bird nests and the type of birds that make them. Here's more information about bird nests.

4. If you find the nest, put the bird back. Contrary to popular myth, a mother bird will not kick a baby bird out of the nest for having your scent on it.

5. But if the bird is cold, the mother may kick the baby out of the nest. So if the chick is cold to the touch, hold it in your hands until the baby bird is warm. Place chick back in nest.

6. If you can find the nest, but you and your tallest friend cannot get to it, build the baby bird a new nest out of grass near the old nest. Make sure to put drain holes in the bottom. Don't hang around. The mother bird will continue to feed the baby, but not if you're hanging around. You can watch from inside your house or from afar.

7. If you cannot find the nest, build a new nest for the baby bird. Watch from afar. If no parent shows up to help the baby, contact a local songbird rehabilitator.

8. Don't try to raise the bird on your own. It will probably die if you do.