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Baby Garden Birds

Not everybody knows what to do when they find a baby bird out of it's nest.  Many birds are brought in as fledglings when they should have been left alone and many can die due to not getting the right advice.

It is certainly important not to intervene if not necessary but every situation is different and should be dealt with in the correct way - not every bird is the same and there is not just one standard response. 

This is why it is so important to contact a wildlife rescue centre if you find an injured or orphaned baby bird.  The specialists at the wildlife rescue centre can assess the situation and decide which actions to take, in the best interest of the bird.

 

Birds have different stages of development - Hatchling, Nestling and Fledgling.  Here we explain what to do through each stage 

 

Hatchling


Hatchlings are birds that have only just hatched from their eggs.  They are altricial, meaning completely bald and dependant on their parents for warmth and food - this of course makes them extremely vulnerable.

If you find a hatchling out of it's nest or injured, it is very important that you carefully pick it up, keep it warm and call your nearest wildlife rescue centre as soon as possible

A good way to keep it at the right temperature is to hold it gently in a loose fist - make sure there is no direct pressure on the bird.

 

Nestling


Nestlings are slightly older than hatchlings.  Partially feathered with some bald patches, nestlings have very wide beaks and will readily gape.  They are however still completely dependant on their parents.

At this age they are very vocal, which can attract predators.  They can also be blown from or pushed out of their nests.

If you find a nestling out of its nest, it is very important that you carefully pick it up and contact your local wildlife rescue centre

  

Fledgling


Fledglings are in their final stages of development.  They are fully feathered apart from a few stubbly bits which may look slightly fluffy or like hair.  Their adult beak is still forming, so will still have fleshy yellow colouring at the corners, allowing them to still gape at their parents for food.

This is a key stage in their growth as they are learning to fly and find their own food.  During this stage the parents will be nearby monitoring their baby and coming down to feed it every so often.

When fledglings take their first flight it is usually unsuccessful - it is perfectly normal for them to spend a few days hopping around on the ground.  This helps them to build up their flight muscles to allow them to fly.

At this age they are very good at hiding in undergrowth to keep from danger.  They will be very wary and will not accept food from humans.

 

The fledgling age group should be left well alone unless they have been injured or are in immediate danger

 

When to intervene with fledglings

Only approach a fledgling bird if:

  • it is injured in any way (they are commonly caught by cats and other predators or clipped by vehicles);
  • their nearby surroundings are dangerous, such as a busy road or beside a pond/pool;
  • their parents have been injured or killed.  This can be difficult to ascertain, so please carefully monitor the bird and call your local wildlife rescue centre for advice.

 

If you find a fledgling and you are not sure what to do, please contact your local wildlife rescue centre for advice.  It is also helpful to take a photograph of the bird

We have had great success over the years by asking members of the public who have found young birds to email us a photo.  This allows us to better determine the age and general condition of the bird and has prevented many healthy fledglings from coming in to care unnecessarily. 

 

Do not attempt to give any injured or orphaned birds food, water or milk as this may be aspirated causing serious breathing problems

People often think that baby birds should be given milk - this is a myth. Milk is harmful to a bird's digestive system.

 



 

Please do not attempt to hand rear a wild bird at home.  They will require specialist care which can be offered by your local wildlife rescue centre.  Inexperienced attempts at care often lead to fatalities and long term survival problems following release

 

 

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