The Wildlife Chronicle with RSPB’s Morwenna Alldis: Keep calm and steer clear of this baby bird

Please resist the urge to “rescue” the baby birds as they fly away. Photo courtesy of Ben Andrew/RSPB

The RSPB reminds the public that most baby birds found on the ground do not need to be rescued and should be left alone – this is part of the natural fledging process.

At this time of year, we get hundreds of calls from well-meaning members of the public about the seemingly helpless baby birds they discovered on the ground.

And with the past two years of lockdown pushing us to pay more attention to our gardens and green spaces, our now expert nature eyes might spot even more chicks than usual.

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But most of the time, it’s important that we resist the urge to ‘rescue’ the baby bird – it’s part of the bird’s natural development, so stay calm and walk away.

Just before the fledglings are ready to tentatively extend a wing, wag a tail feather and take flight for the first time, they leave their nest – ‘take flight’ as it is called.

The chicks then spend a few days on the ground and around the nest developing their final flight feathers.

The baby birds will appear fully feathered and jump around your garden in broad daylight – which is why members of the public are convinced they need to be rescued.

Another common fear is that the youngster has been abandoned by their parents. But it is extremely unlikely that the chicks will be abandoned.

Mom and dad are probably out for food or hiding nearby with a keen eye on their young, waiting for you to leave. Parents know best and are the experts in raising their little ones.

There are a few situations where the public should lend a friendly helping hand:

Immediate danger: if the baby bird is found on a busy road or path, and if it is safe to do so, we advise you to pick it up and move it a short distance to a safer location – this should be within hearing distance of where the youth was found.

Likewise, if you discover that your cat or dog is eyeing a baby bird, we recommend that you keep your pet indoors as much as possible.

Injury: If the youngster is injured or caught by a cat, the quickest way to get medical help is often to take them to your local vet, most treat wild birds free of charge, but call first. You can also contact your local wildlife rescue centre, found here: helpwildlife.co.uk/ Or call the RSPCA on: 0300 1234 999.

Nestlings: If a baby bird is discovered on the ground with no feathers or covered only in its fluffy down, it likely fell out of its cozy nest sooner than expected. Very occasionally it is possible to put these babies back in their nest, but only if you are 100% sure of the nest from which it fell.

Grounded Swift: For full guidance, go here: bit.ly/GroundedSwift

Barn Owl Chick: If found on the ground, first confirm that it is a barn owl and not a tawny owl (light colored, dark eyes and eyelids). Write down the exact location where you found it.

It is not normal for young barn owls to be out of the nest before they can fly, if left they will likely be ignored by their parents and not survive. Contact a local lifeguard, the Barn Owl Trust or the RSPCA for help.

Ducks and Ducklings: For full advice visit here: bit.ly/ducknests

Sometimes a parent bird will intentionally eject a chick from the nest if it senses it has an underlying health problem or is dying. It’s a hard truth to bear, as humans we want to work things out, but sometimes we have to let the law of nature take its course.

To find out how you can help nature on your doorstep, visit: rspb.org.uk/natureonyourdoorstep

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