Police in Colorado have confiscated 53 baby birds from a 15-year-old boy who apparently took them from neighborhood nests and stored them in his bedroom.
Police believe the boy had the birds for at least 24 hours. Authorities confiscated them on June 16 after his mother realized he had them and called animal control.
"He and some other children in the neighborhood had been trying to feed them with little success," Longmont police Sgt. Dave Orr said.
The birds included barn swallows, sparrows and a bluebird. Forty died, but the other 13 are recuperating at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in nearby Boulder and are expected to survive.
The boy had no explanation for raiding the nests, Orr said. He was ticketed for cruelty to animals and interference with wild birds.
Rehabilitators said the tiny birds have to be fed every 45 minutes and must be kept warm so their digestive systems don't shut down. The birds will be taught to eat and allowed to fly in enclosures so they can eventually be released back into the wild.
Colorado law allows people to transport injured or sick wildlife to a veterinarian or rehabilitation center, but it's illegal to try to care for wild animals.
"Every once in a while, we get animals from people who mean well," Greenwood operations manager Gabriele Paul said. "They don't know it is illegal to do it themselves."