Killdeer and sandpipers are what we call “precocial” babies. That means that very soon after they hatch, they are able to run around, and eat on their own. They still need their parents to protect them from predators, teach them about the world, and keep them warm.
Baby shorebirds are covered in fluffy feathers called “down”. Often they look like a mini version of their parents. They don’t have webbed feet, and their legs seem very long for their size
If you don’t think the baby you’ve found is a shorebird, go back to our species selection page.
Dark, quiet, and warm
The main thing to know about baby killdeer and sandpipers is that they are VERY fragile. It’s important not to handle them or talk to them or pet them. If you’ve found a baby that looks like this, please keep it in a closed cardboard.
A HEAT SOURCE is critical for these babies, so place one in the box with them:
- a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice, and microwaved for one minute
- a plastic bottle from the recycling bin filled with hot tap water
- an electric heating pad set to “LOW” and placed under half of the box.
Put the box in a dark, quiet spot, and read on for further instructions.
Is the baby bird injured?
A baby shore bird with any of the following signs is injured and needs medical attention:
- There are obvious wounds or blood on its body
- It has had contact with a cat – even with no obvious injuries, this is a medical emergency for baby birds
- The bird is lying on its side and cannot right itself
- It cannot stand, walk, or run
- It is covered in bugs or insects
- The bird feels cold to the touch when you pick it up
- It is fluffy, looks “sleepy”, and doesn’t perk up or try to get away when you approach it.
Put the injured baby bird(s) in a cardboard box in a dark, quiet place. Put a heat source like a rice sock or warm water bottle in the box with them. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away.