This week I wanted to write about what to do if you find a baby bird. It is quite common in spring and summer to find young chicks on the ground or hopping about near their nest. Often you won’t even 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.
If you see a recently fledged chick on its own, it feels odd to then leave it, as they can seem very vulnerable. However, it is really important to leave them where you found them. If you are particularly worried that it might be predated or if it is on a path or out in the open, you could pick it up and move it a few metres into some undergrowth. It is a 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 if you touch them.
The only reason to remove a fledgling from the wild is if it has definitely been abandoned or 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. 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. Generally the worst thing you can do to a perfectly healthy young bird is to ‘rescue’ it.
Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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