This article is from The Biscuit magazine.
During the spring season, it’s not uncommon to happen across a small baby bird on the ground as they leave their nest for the first time. In most cases, these fledgling birds are being closely monitored by their nearby parents. This is a normal process as the young bird learns how to take flight. In some instances however, the baby bird may be in danger or may be injured and genuinely needs your help. But how can you tell when to intervene and when to leave the bird alone to reunite with their family?
“Sadly this happens all the time,” said RSPCA Qld’s spokesperson Michael Beatty. “People think they’re doing the right thing by “rescuing” chicks that are healthy and being looked after by their parents. They mean well but it often ends up very badly for the chicks.”
So do you know what to do if you find a baby bird? Here’s our checklist of what to do:Is the bird a nestling or a fledgling?
Does the bird have feathers? If not, or if it has only fluffy down, then it is a nestling, and needs help straight away, as it cannot keep itself warm. If you find a nestling, please take it to a vet or bring it in to the RSPCA as soon as possible.
If the bird has its flight feathers, then it is a fledgling. Before rescuing a fledgling, ask yourself:
- Is the bird calling or making a noise?
- Is the bird bright and responsive?
- Can the bird perch on your finger?
- Can the bird spread its wings evenly and flutter to the ground when encouraged to fly?
To try to reunite the baby bird with its parents, place the bird on a low branch in a bush and watch to see if the parents come to feed it. You can also place the baby bird in a bucket with a few drainage holes. The ‘home-away-from-home’ will protect fledglings and baby birds from predators.
Download or print this baby bird rescue guide and follow these steps to help you determine the best way to handle the situation.
Cats and dogs can kill and severely wound native birds and wildlife, particularly the young and flightless. Responsible pet ownership includes confining your cat/s and dog/s (particularly at night). Residents can further assist native birds by planting bushy indigenous shrubs and ground cover to provide protection and camouflage. This will help increase the survival rate of young birds, and will significantly reduce the injury and mortality rates of all wildlife species.
Australia is home to many native bird species, many of which can be found in your own backyard! Baby birds are one of two types. Altricial chicks, such as magpies, parrots, raptors and honeyeaters, remain in their nests until old enough to leave. Precocial chicks, such as ducks, brush turkeys, moorhens and plovers, remain with their parents until complete independence.