What to do if you find a baby bird

It can be quite common in spring and summer to find young chicks on the ground or hopping about near their nest. Often you won’t see their parents but they will be nearby, waiting for you to leave before they go to feed their young. These recently fledged birds are doing exactly as nature intended so there is no need to worry.

Many birds will leave the nest before they are fully feathered and able to fly and again this is completely normal behaviour. These birds will spend a few days like this before their feathers are fully formed.

Blue tit chick with parent © Gillian Day

If you see a recently fledged chick on its own, it can feel odd to then leave it, as they can seem very vulnerable.

However, it is really important to leave them where you found them. Often the parents will leave the bird for hours at a time especially if it is reaching an age of near independence. The parents will reduce feeding to encourage the fledgling to find food of its own.

If you are particularly worried that it might be predated or if it is on a path or out in the open, you could gently pick it up and move it a few metres into some undergrowth. It is an urban myth that animals will abandon their young if it is touched by a human. No animal of any species who naturally tends to their young will abandon it for this reason.

Generally the worst thing you can do to a healthy young bird is to ‘rescue’ it. The only reason to remove a fledgling from the wild is if it has definitely been abandoned, orphaned or been injured. I would define an abandoned bird as one that hadn’t been fed by its parents for half a day or more.

If you do have concerns about an injured or distressed animal you should contact the SSPCA by calling 03000 999 999.

Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Preface

It can be quite common in spring and summer to find young chicks on the ground or hopping about near their nest. Often you won’t see their parents but they …

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