For help with abandoned or injured birds please contact:

Wildlife Careline (Beryl Goodall) 07801248850

 

What to do if you find a baby bird?

Young birds are often found on the ground in spring and summer, without any sign of their parents. If you find a baby bird on the floor and you're not sure what to do, follow these simple steps below:

1. Is the baby bird injured?

Is the baby bird hurt? E.g. Obvious wounds or dropped wing?

YES

SBBOT does not have the facilities to take in injured wildlife. The RSPCA are the national charity that can offer help and advise on injured wildlife. Your local vets may also be able to help or give advice, Burnham House Vets in Dover are very good with treating injured wildlife (01304 206989) 33-35 Castle Street, Dover CT16 1PT. You can also contact Beryl who's details are at the top of this page, the wildlife carline collect from a variety of vets accross East Kent.

NO

Go to to step 2.

2. Does it have feathers?

Robin fledgling by Steve Reynaert
YES

This is a fledgling. Most garden bird species leave the nest when they are fully feathered, but before they can fly! These fledglings often spend a few days on the ground whilst they wait for their flight feathers to become fully grown. The only exceptions are Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, which can fly well as soon as they leave the nest and should never be found on the ground. Tawny Owls are mobile at a very early age and start exploring away from the nest before they are even half grown.

Go to step 3.

Great Tit nestlings by Becky Johnson
NO

This is a nestling who may have fallen out of the nest by accident.

Go to step 4.

3. Is the fledgling in danger?

NO

Do nothing. This is always the best action as even if you can't see the parents, they are probably just away collecting food or hiding nearby and may have been scared away by your presence. Fledglings are extremely unlikely to be abandoned by their parents and you should leave fledglings where they are, in the care of their own parents.

Even if we mean well, removing a fledgling from the wild reduces its chances of long-term survival to a small fraction, and should only be a very last resort - only if it's injured or has definitely been abandoned or orphaned.

YES the fledgling is in danger

If the fledgling is out in the open e.g. on a busy path or road, gently pick it up and move it a short distance to a safer place, preferably with a bit of cover. Make sure you leave it within hearing distance of where you found it. Don't worry handling a young bird won't cause its parents to abandon it as they have a relatively poor sense of smell.

IMPORTANT: If you have cats, keep them indoors until the fledglings are able to fly. In any conflict of interest between wild animals and domestic pets, it's always the domestic pet that must give way.

4. Can you see an obvious nest with similar birds?

YES

If the baby bird is bald or covered in fluffy down this is a nestling and has obviously fallen out of a nest by accident, it may be possible to put it back. Only do this if you are sure which nest the chick came from and if it appears well and uninjured. Sometimes parent birds sense there is something wrong with one of their chicks, or that it is dying. In cases like this, they will eject the nestling so they can concentrate on looking after the healthy siblings.

NO

If you can't return a healthy chick to its nest, it will be dependent on humans for survival and you should pass it on to an expert rehabilitator as soon as possible (see contact details for Beryl at the top of this page).

Remember, if the young bird is fully covered in feathers, it will have left the nest deliberately and doesn't need help returning to it. You should leave this chick where it is, in the care of its parents.

Skip to content