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Finding a Fledgling Bird – What Should You Do?

Fledgling

Fledglings are young birds that have recently left the nest and are learning to fly.

If you come across a fledgling bird, don’t be tempted to try and help. You may feel that they need rescuing but this is not the case. They are in a crucial stage of development where they are learning to fly and fend for themselves.

It is completely natural for them to spend some time on the ground as they practice their skills. You could actually do more harm than good. So what should you do?

Firstly, observe from a distance 

Don’t be tempted to rush in to help, assuming that they have been abandoned. Instead, it’s crucial to exercise patience and caution when encountering fledgling birds. Take a moment to observe them from a distance for a while before taking any action. Although fledglings may appear helpless, they are often still under the watchful care of their parents who may be nearby, providing crucial guidance and protection as the young birds navigate their new surroundings.

During this observation period, you might notice subtle signs of parental involvement, such as adult birds nearby, bringing food to the fledglings, or even vocal communication between the young bird and its parents. These behaviours indicate that the fledgling is likely not abandoned and is receiving the necessary support from its caregivers.

By resisting the urge to intervene immediately, you allow the fledgling bird the opportunity to develop its natural instincts, strengthen its wings, and learn essential survival skills under the guidance of its parents. This hands-off approach is often the best course of action, as interfering unnecessarily can disrupt the natural bonding and learning processes crucial for the fledgling’s development.

Therefore, exercise patience and restraint, and trust in the instincts of the fledgling’s parents. Only if the fledgling is in imminent danger or shows signs of injury should you consider seeking assistance from wildlife professionals or intervening in any way. Otherwise, allowing nature to take its course ensures the best chance for the fledgling bird’s well-being and eventual independence.

Assess the situation

When assessing a bird’s condition, it’s important to carefully determine whether it is injured or in immediate danger. Look for visible signs of distress or injury, such as bleeding, drooping wings, or an inability to stand or fly properly. These indicators suggest that the bird may require immediate assistance or medical attention from wildlife professionals.

However, if the bird appears to be perfectly fit and healthy, it’s often best to leave nature to take its course. Many fledgling birds may seem vulnerable or incapable at first glance but are simply going through the natural process of learning to fly and become independent. In such cases, intervening unnecessarily may do more harm than good, disrupting the bird’s natural development and potentially causing unnecessary stress.

Keep pets away

Keeping pets away from fledgling birds is crucial for the safety of both the young bird and your pets. Fledglings are particularly vulnerable to harm from pets, such as cats and dogs, who may view them as prey or objects of curiosity. Even if pets don’t intend harm, their presence can cause stress and disrupt the fledgling’s natural behaviour. Furthermore, by keeping pets away from fledglings, you also prevent disturbance to nesting sites, which is essential for the well-being of nesting birds and their offspring. 

Continued disturbance can lead to nest abandonment or provoke aggressive behaviour from parent birds, posing risks to both pets and humans.

Additionally, keeping pets away from fledglings helps prevent the transmission of diseases or parasites, which can have serious health consequences for the birds and potentially pose risks to your pets. Therefore, it’s important to supervise pets closely when fledglings are present and take proactive measures to ensure they cannot access areas where fledglings are located.

Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator

When encountering an injured or endangered bird, it’s vital to promptly seek assistance from a local wildlife rehabilitator or animal rescue organisation. These professionals possess the specialised expertise and resources needed to provide proper care and rehabilitation for injured or orphaned birds. With their extensive training, they can assess the bird’s condition, administer necessary medical treatment, and ensure it receives appropriate nutrition in a safe environment. 

Wildlife rehabilitators work towards the goal of rehabilitating birds for release back into their natural habitat, adhering to legal regulations and ethical standards to promote wildlife conservation. By contacting these organisations, you can help ensure the bird receives the care it needs and increase its chances of survival and eventual return to the wild.

Provide shelter

If the bird is injured or vulnerable and in an exposed area where they are likely to get run over, attacked by prey or similar, you can try and return them to the nest or find a place in a nearby shrub or tree where they are safe from predators. 

Allowing fledglings to seek shelter in natural vegetation, such as bushes, shrubs, or dense foliage means that they have camouflage and protection from predators while still allowing the birds to access food and water.

Monitor from Afar

After taking any necessary action, continue to monitor the fledgling from a distance to see if it is being attended to by its parents. Parent birds often continue to care for fledglings even after they leave the nest.

Educate Others

If you encounter a fledgling bird, educate others about the importance of leaving wildlife undisturbed whenever possible and contacting professionals for assistance when needed.

Remember, it’s essential to handle fledgling birds with care and avoid unnecessary intervention unless they are in immediate danger. In many cases, the best course of action is to let nature take its course, with minimal human interference.

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