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Fledgling bird on the ground

If you see a baby bird on the ground - all alone and seemingly abandoned by its parents - your first instinct may be to offer the fledgling a helping hand.

However, in most cases, you should not intervene. Yes, it's hard not to feel sorry for a young bird who appears to be struggling, but your attempt to assist may end up interfering with a critical stage of the fledgling's development. Birds have to learn to stand on their own two feet and fly on their own two wings!

The RSPB has repeatedly asked people to leave fledglings alone and ignore their cries for help (except in certain unusual circumstances - see list below). While that baby bird in your garden may appear to have been deserted, its mother is probably somewhere nearby, gathering food or monitoring her child's progress.

And moving a fledgling elsewhere can have a detrimental effect on its chances of long-term survival. It may take a heart of stone to do the right thing here, but remember: you're not doing that young bird any favours by stepping in.

That being said...


Exceptions to the rule

There are some exceptional circumstances in which you should come to the fledgling's rescue. Only intervene if:

  • The fledgling's life is in immediate danger
  • The fledgling appears to be injured
  • The bird is not yet fully feathered (in which case it probably fell out of the nest)
  • You find a baby swift, swallow or house martin on the ground (these birds fledge on the wing)

If you have another question, why not put it to our resident vet Lesley?

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