Tips on what to do when a baby bird is away from its nest - after 1,000 calls made to the RSPCA
PUBLISHED: 15:45 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:15 30 April 2019
Nearly 200 concerned Norfolk wildlife lovers made calls to the RSPCA last year about baby chicks that were spotted away from their nests.
In 2018, the animal charity received 992 reports from people in the East of England, of which 183 were from Norfolk and 179 from Suffolk.
Of the 9,163 calls made across the country, some 7,839 related to fledglings - older baby birds that are starting to fly - which the RSPCA advises can generally be left to be cared for by their parents.
The remaining 1,324 calls about young birds related to nestlings - very young baby birds - that will not survive out of the nest.
The difference between the two birds, the RSPCA said, is their feathers - nestlings have no feathers or very few and most fledglings have all or most of their feathers, and leave the nest just before they can fly.
RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “It's wonderful that people want to do the best for our wildlife, but sometimes it's difficult to know when to intervene and when to hold back.
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“The first step is to identify whether the young bird is a nestling or fledgling. Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or very few.
“Because they will not survive long outside the protection of the nest, these very young birds should be taken to a vet, or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
“We also provide advice on how to safely catch, handle and care for the nestling until it can be taken to an expert.
“Fledglings on the other hand have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly. Unlike nestlings they can also perch, hop and walk.
“If one is seen away from the nest, it should be left alone and watched from a distance for up to two hours to ensure the parents are returning. It is likely the parents are nearby and will still be feeding the bird.
“We advise never to 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, it should be placed in a sheltered spot a short distance away.”
Concerns about animals should be reported to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.