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Baby birds

We have all been waiting for better weather and blooming flowers but did you know it’s a busy time of year for the National RSPCA wildlife centres? They receive lots of calls about baby animals from concerned members of the public who find them out and about.

Our advice is it’s normally best to leave baby animals alone, as their parents are usually nearby. Getting close to their young can scare them off, so below are some tips from the National RSPCA to help you know when to help a baby animal alone. In this blog, we cover baby birds however for more information on other wildlife, click here

Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or only a few. Nestlings will not survive long outside the protection of the nest so take it to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator.


Fledglings have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly. Leave a fledgling alone and watch from a distance, as the parents are usually nearby and will still be feeding the bird. Never try to return a bird to the nest as this may disturb the other young birds and may be illegal.

If a fledgling is in immediate danger, place it in a sheltered spot a short distance away.

Better off left alone

The RSPCA wildlife centres care for over a thousand ‘orphaned’ fledglings each year, picked up by well-meaning people. Most of these birds are not orphans and would’ve been better off left in the wild.


Baby owls (owlets)

Tawny owlets can climb back up into the nest. If you find a tawny owlet under a possible nest site, monitor from a distance to see if the parents are nearby. If you hear them calling, leave the bird alone.

If, after monitoring, you think a fledgling is genuinely orphaned, take it to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator.

Please don’t try to care for young birds yourself – they need specialist care and facilities to survive.

Capture and boxing baby birds

If it’s safe to catch and handle the bird then, wearing suitable gloves, place it into a secure ventilated cardboard box, lined with a towel or newspaper. Don’t offer food or water as they require a specialised diet.

Keep the bird somewhere warm and quiet and take it to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Take to your nearest wildlife centre

It’s often faster to take an animal to a wildlife rehabilitator yourself, as the National RSPCA officers may be out of the area attending other calls. If you’re unable to transport the baby bird, contact them on 0300 1234 999.

What to do with injured wild animals

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then if possible take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal).

It’s often faster to take an animal to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator yourself as the nearest RSPCA officer may be out of the area attending other calls.

If you’re unable to transport the animal and cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator who is able to help, contact the National RSPCA about an animal in distress. If possible, contain the animal before calling.

Be careful when approaching wild animals, they can scratch and bite when frightened, particularly if they’re injured. If in doubt, keep a safe distance and call them on 0300 1234 999.

EmmaBaby birds