Baby bird season is in full swing with many wildlife rescues receiving an influx of calls and admissions. Bird nesting season is around March to July (this can vary), therefore it is recommended to avoid construction work, tree-felling and hedge-cutting around this time. All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, you cannot intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
The most common birds you may come across is our Garden Birds. There are three different stages to their development.
First, we have Hatchlings. These are birds who have recently hatched and have no feathers with their eyes closed. If they are found outside of the nest, they will need help and intervention.
Next, we have, Nestlings. These birds are partly feathered and bald in areas. They will have their eyes open and are dependent on their parents. They are often calling for their parents and asking for food. If they are found out of the nest, help and intervention is needed. If the nest is in sight, with the same species of bird (to ensure this is the correct nest), it may be possible to gently put the bird back in the nest and monitor at a distance to see if the adult birds are visiting. However, it is important to remember that it may not be a healthy bird and may have been pushed out/rejected by its parents. Please contact a wildlife rescue for advice on the individual case.
If the bird is injured (Eg any visual injuries or a cat has brought it into the house) or if the nest cannot be found, then veterinary intervention will be needed. First aid should be performed and once the bird is stable it should be transferred to a suitable wildlife rescue & rehabilitation facility.
Next, we have Fledglings. These birds will be feathered with down (fluffy) feathers on their head and back. They will flutter for short distances and are usually hoping around on the ground. These are most likely to be presented into veterinary practices and wildlife rescues, as they may be thought to be orphaned or abandoned. Most nest-reared birds will leave the nest before they can fly. They tend to spend a couple to several days on the ground, whilst they build up their wing muscles for flight. Their parents will still care and feed for them once they have fledged and the amount of time will depend on the particular species. In most cases of fledglings found on the ground, it is best to leave them alone and monitor them from a distance.
Fledglings are at risk of predation, and this tends to be from cats. Birds caught by a cat can be at risk of septicaemia and require veterinary attention. As veterinary professionals, we have a duty to provide first aid and pain relief to all species, including wild animals. Therefore, if you are concerned about an injured wild animal, we may be able to help. However, we do not have the facilities to care for them long term and would need to transfer them to a suitable wildlife facility.
Our closest wildlife rescue and hospital is Wildlife Aid Foundation in Leatherhead.
24hr helpline: 01372 360404
Visit their website for more information and frequently asked questions: https://www.wildlifeaid.org.uk/
Our next post in this series will be on Cats & Wildlife and how we can help improve the welfare of both.