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Help! I've found a baby bird.

Fledgling garden birds 

It is that time of year when baby birds are taking their first flights and are often seen hopping about on the ground unable to fly. A bird at this stage is called a fledgling. They may have some fluffy baby feathers left or be fully feathered, typically with just a bit of a tail.  

The nest is too small for the birds to stretch and flap their wings and build up the flight muscles. So when the fledglings emerge from the nest, they have very little ability to fly. They spend 1-4 days on the ground, learning to be independent and building up their strength.The parents will be keeping an eye on them and even continue to feed them until they are independent and able to find their own food.  

It is a normal stage of their development but is a time when they are vulnerable. It is nature’s way of ensuring that only the strongest and cleverest birds survive and go on to breed next year. For example, blue tits have broods of 8-12 chicks, but only two are expected to make it to adulthood. Those that die may feed the next generation of native predators such as stoats or kestrels. One way or another, they contribute towards the natural cycle of life.  


What should I do if I find one? 

If the bird is in danger – from cats or is on a road – please pick them up and place them in a tree or bush nearby so they are off the ground and less visible. The parents will recognise them by sound rather than scent so briefly using your hands (except for swallows and swifts)is ok.  


What if it is injured or I have taken it home?  

If the bird has been caught by a cat, has obvious injuries, is sleepy, looks weak or is unresponsive, then it will need to see a vet.  

Please note that WVI is not a wildlife rescue centre and our staff who answer the phone do not have access to specialist information. We will tell you the following: 


1.   For more detailed information about what to do with different species the Help Wildlife and Wildlife Aid websites are extremely good.  


2.   You can find your nearest rescue centre here.


3.   Your local vet does not have an obligation to take wildlife in and they may not have the facilities or the expertise. What they can do is euthanise animals to stop them from suffering from injuries or illness and the stress of a being a wild animal in a captive situation.  

Image credit: Ray Hennessey/Wildscreen Exchange