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Baby Bird On The Ground

Many baby birds that are found do not need rescuing. Often birds on the ground are in the fledgling or branching stage of development and are being fed by their parents who are nearby. Always assess whether a rescue is really needed.

Check list;

  • Is the bird cold to the touch, or shivering?
  • Does the bird have an injury or obvious wounds (e.g. bleeding, wing hanging, leg at odd angle, tangled in something etc.)?
  • Is the bird obviously dehydrated (e.g. abdomen/eyes appear sunken-in, sticky tendrils in mouth etc.) ?
  • Is the bird lethargic, very inactive, or uninterested in its surroundings?
  • Can you handle the bird with little or no response?
  • Was it handled by a cat (even if it appears uninjured) or did you find it near a cat?
  • Is the bird naked or partially feathered ?
  • Are there flies or maggots on the bird?
  • Is the bird in imminent danger (e.g. on a road, in a building site etc)?
  • Have you attempted to re-nest/reunite the bird but have not seen the parents in over 1 to 2 hours?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, take the following steps;

  • Place the baby in a softly-lined covered box with ventilation.
  • Place the box in a warm, dark quiet indoor location away from all humans and pets.
  • Warm the bird up with direct heat. This is very important. Place the bird on, or next to, a covered hot water bottle or wheat bag. (Alternatively, if you have nothing else, even an ordinary plastic bottle filled with warm water will do).
  • Do NOT attempt to give the bird food or water, even if it opens it's mouth and calls for food (without knowing the species, age, and condition of the bird, you could cause harm by trying to feed it)

Contact your local wildlife rescue for further advice as soon as possible. Young birds get cold and dehydrate very quickly, so act fast.

Warning: Be careful when attempting to assess the condition of a young owl or crow you have found on the ground. If healthy, it's parents may be nearby and if they view you as a threat to their offspring, they may fly down or fly past you to scare you away. If you are concerned about the condition of a young bird, but are unable to approach due to protective adult birds, please contact a rescue centre for advice.

The Nest Has Been Chopped Down, Fallen Down, Or Disturbed

Throughout the spring and summer months, rescue centres across the UK deal with thousands of calls regarding nest disturbances. Many people accidentally or deliberately remove and cut down active nests while carrying out activities such as house renovations, building work, and gardening. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 legally protects ALL bird species, their nests, and their eggs. If you remove a bird nest (while it's being built, or being used), damage or remove eggs, or kill/injure any bird, you may be committing an offence, and could face an unlimited fine and up to 6 months imprisonment. It is best to seek advice from a rescue centre before attempting any kind of activity that may disturb a nesting bird.

If you have disturbed a nest and the eggs/baby birds are not injured, it is often possible to successfully reunite them with their parents. Contact a rescue centre as soon as you can for advice. Many people mistakenly believe that once a nest has been disturbed, the parents will reject the babies - this is far from the truth. If the eggs or baby birds are injured in any way, follow the advice on the left. If not, call a rescue for advice on how to reunite the nest with the parents.

There Are Baby Birds in the Garden but I Want to Let my Cat Out

This is an extremely common call for many rescue centres, and unfortunately, the answer that many of us give is not very popular. It is not possible for rescue centres to catch and hand rear every single young bird in the UK. If a nest of birds has just fledged, and the youngsters are hopping around the garden, please do your best to keep your cat indoors until the birds are old enough to get out of harms way. If this is not possible, please try and reduce your cats hunting by putting two bells on it's collar, keeping it in at night, feeding it a healthy and varied diet, providing it with stimulating toys, and playing with it.