In 2018, we received an average of 140 calls per day from members of the public with concerns about baby birds. We had over 400 nestlings and fledglings in our National Wildlife Rescue Centre at the same time.
Although some young birds are picked up because they are injured or need help, many are in good health. It’s very common for well-meaning members of the public to disturb baby birds which should be left alone.
Nestlings and fledglings – what’s the difference?
A fledgling is a fully feathered young bird that you may find out of the nest as it learns to fly. This is normal and is nature taking its course. It can appear clumsy and unable to fly but it’s vital it is left in peace to learn. Its parents are almost certainly nearby, watching their young’s efforts to take to the skies.
If their baby is disturbed, they may abandon it. Our advice is to monitor it for a couple of hours and, if there’s no sign of any adults, call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
A fledgling may be in harm’s way if it is on or near a road or in a place vulnerable to predators. Sometimes, it may be possible to move it to a safer spot like a hedge or tree.
Nestlings should never be found on the ground. An unfeathered or fluffy bird is a nestling and if you find one on the ground call us immediately. Try and contain it in a small, ventilated box until we arrive.
Have you found a baby bird that you think needs help?
Here’s our handy guide to fledglings, nestlings, and knowing when to call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Under no circumstances should anyone who discovers a nest try to touch or move the birds inside. This is illegal and puts baby birds at great risk.
You can follow our annual #SSPCABabyBirds campaign on social media to find out more about the birds in our care.