Found a wild animal in need of care? Call our RESCUE LINE on 0300 561 0608
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only approach a fledgling bird if:
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.
People often think that baby birds should be given milk - this is a myth. Milk is harmful to a bird's digestive system.