Submit your nest observations for TRC's nest database

We're collecting information from the public on active bird nests in Wyoming and eastern Idaho. These nest sites may be used as foster nests for orphaned or displaced birds. Young birds have the best chance at survival if they are raised by wild parents. Fortunately, raptors and many other birds will adopt young birds if they are placed into their nest and close in age to the other young. The information you provide here could help an orphaned or displaced bird get a second chance at life in the wild!

Photos of the nest and birds are very helpful. Photos can be emailed to raptors@tetonraptorcenter.org with the subject line: nest info photos for database.

Just because you find a raptor on the ground, it does not mean that the bird is injured and in need of help.

It is normal for chicks of most raptor species to leave the nest before they can fly. Some raptors also nest on the ground or even under it. Unless the chick shows signs of injury, its greatest chance of success in the wild depends on leaving it where it is or to get it back in a nest in a tree to develop normally under the care of its parents. These young chicks do not do well when raised in captivity.

Fledglings

A fledgling is what we call a young raptor that has left the nest but it still not old enough for full flight. The parents find and feed these grounded fledglings for several days as they develop their flight abilities. Many species of raptors have a prolonged adolescent period where, even though the young are old enough to fly, they are still supported by their parents. This is the time period that the young gain valuable hunting experience because they are still fed by the parents when they are unsuccessful hunting on their own.

Chicks

Additionally, with the exception of ground nesting raptors, it is not normal to find a chick that is featherless, or covered only in down, with its eyes closed. If you know where the nest is, and it is safely accessible, it is okay to attempt to put a chick at this age back in its nest. Otherwise, please call our Injured Raptor Hotline at 307.203.2551 before moving any young raptor that is not in apparent danger.

Should you call Teton Raptor Center?

With very few exceptions, leaving a fledgling raptor alone is the best option for increasing its chances of survival. It can be difficult to distinguish between a young raptor that is too young to fly and one that is injured. It is not always easy to identify a fledgling. Fledglings can look like adults except that they might have a ragged or fluffy appearance. They are full-sized at this stage but have not grown in all their adult feathers. If you see blood or an open wound, the bird needs help. Please call our Injured Raptor Hotline: 307.203.2551 before moving a young raptor!

This young Swainson's Hawk chick is still covered in down and could not stand. It fell out of its tree and was re-nested using a laundry basket as a fake nest.

This young Swainson's Hawk chick is still covered in down and could not stand. It fell out of its tree and was re-nested using a laundry basket as a fake nest.

Great Horned Owl fledglings. These fledglings would be okay to hang out on the ground.

Great Horned Owl fledglings. These fledglings would be okay to hang out on the ground.

This Great Horned Owl chick is still covered in down. This bird would benefit from getting off the ground and back in its nest.

This Great Horned Owl chick is still covered in down. This bird would benefit from getting off the ground and back in its nest.

What to do if advised by TRC to get a young chick off the ground?

If you do come across a young raptor chick and after calling our Raptor Hotline, TRC advises to get the bird off the ground, what do you do? There are two options! The first option is to place the chick back in its original nest. However this is not also feasible as the original nest may have been destroyed in a storm or too high up in a tree to reach with a ladder. Your safety is our utmost concern! If the young bird cannot be placed in its original nest, the second option is what we call the laundry basket method! Take a plastic basket (laundry basket's work great) and place a towel or hay/grass in the bottom to make it more comfortable. Ideally in the same tree as the original nest, use a ladder to get as high up in the tree as possible. Secure the basket in a nook of branches using rope or cable ties. Once you feel the basket if stable, using protective gloves place the young chick in the laundry basket. This will be its new fake nest! As long as the parents are still visible in the are they should tend to the chick just as they normally would have in their original nest. Be sure to contact TRC or your local WYGF or IDFG officers for assistance!

Young Great Horned Owl re-nested in laundry basket. Photo credit IDFG.

Young Great Horned Owl re-nested in laundry basket. Photo credit IDFG.

Young Great Horned Owl re-nested in laundry basket. 

Young Great Horned Owl re-nested in laundry basket. 

Young Swainson's Hawk re-nested in laundry basket. 

Young Swainson's Hawk re-nested in laundry basket. 

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