Advice: - If You Find Fledgling Birds, Leave Them Alone!

The last week, I have read numerous posts asking for advice on baby birds - Fledglings!

I'm aware that members who are posting the questions are somewhat inexperienced and are seeking help from more experienced birders.

But I personally have been somewhat alarmed about somethings I have read!

Spring and Summer months are when most birds breed, so there will be many fledglings that appear in the most peculiar of places.

It is a human instinct to assist a fluffy baby bird that looks abandoned, young blackbirds regularly depart before being able to fly, though they are capable of hiding themselves from predators quite effectively as are most fledglings.

You also have to remember Mother Nature in all her beauty can be sometimes very cruel!

Predators hunt for prey!

The young of most familiar garden birds fledge once they are fully feathered, but before they're able to fly, they spend a day or two on the ground while their feathers finish developing.

The following is the RSPB's advice for fledglings.

Fledglings should be left where they are, in the care of their parents. Removal of a fledgling from the wild will cut its chances of long-term survival to a small fraction, and should only be done as a very last resort. 

If the bird is on a busy path or road or other potentially dangerous, exposed location, it makes sense to pick it up and move it a short distance to a safer place. Make sure you put it down within hearing reach of where it was found so its parents can find it.

Handling a young bird does not cause its parents to abandon it. Birds have a poor sense of smell and do not respond to human smell in the same way as mammals.

Baby birds in your garden?

It can be tempting to try to ‘rescue’ a baby bird apparently in trouble. Here are some things to remember:

  • The adult birds are much more skilled at looking after their offspring than humans will ever be!
  • It’s very likely that the bird’s parents are nearby, waiting for you to leave the area
  • If the bird is in a very vulnerable position (for example, in the middle of the pavement), it’s OK to move it somewhere safe nearby – perhaps from off the ground into a bush or tree where cats won’t see it
  • Watch from a safe distance to see what happens. If it really has been abandoned, contact our Wildlife Enquiries team for advice, but as the conservation organisation, the RSPB is not able to offer a rescue service. Tel: 01767 693690, 8.30 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday; answerphone only at other times
  • Try to avoid interference wherever possible. It really is best to leave baby birds alone.  

 The RSPB does not run bird hospitals or a rescue service.

Regards Buzzard

Nature Is Amazing - Let Us Keep It That Way

  • Sound advice, and  not a moment too soon.


    I do worry when I hear of people "rescuing" in fledglings, even though I know they have the best of intentions. I have seen a few shockers on here recently, but have had to bite my lip as knowing me I'd say the wrong thing and upset somebody. Hopefully this will point folks in the right direction :)

  • In reply to AnnaBanana:


    "But I personally have been somewhat alarmed about somethings I have read!"


    "I have seen a few shockers on here recently."

    Could you be more specific please?


    Kind regards Jane.

  • Anonymous

    In reply to Goldcrest:

    Well said Buzzard

    I have seen a few fledglings in my own garden(s) in the past.

    My most memorable one was to see two baby blackbirds sitting on the path close to our front window.  Yes they where cute and cuddly, but the golden rule is 'HANDS OFF'!!

    This was years ago, and my view at 'that point' was to leave well alone.  The parents where nearby, and the parents came down and fed the chicks much to my own joy of seeing nature in its natural form.

    These two chicks where just on the verge of fledging, and the parents where teaching the youngsters the skills they need to survive as they should.  It was lovely to see the youngsters fed in a natural family environment.

    The other side of the coin was to pick up a Male Blackbird which I saw lying on its side on the lawn in my back lawn.  I think he had been fighting, and hit the washing line pole and knocked himself out.  He had feathers attached to his feet.  I intervened, and picked up the bird, placed him in towel in a box, and take him to a quiet area of the house with a little water. 

    Sadly he did not survive, but I was not going to handle him at all.  Birds get so stressed so easily, enough to kill them.  To me this Blackbird was vulnerable to cats or otherwise. and that is why I wanted to help him.

    This is my view on how we should treat our birds - they are wild, not pets or similar to any domestic animal at all.

    So good advice has been given about fledglings!!!


    Kathy and Dave

  • Everyone,

    Might as well put my tuppence worth in.

    I understand and agree with the firm view that fledglings should be left alone. Those first precarious days out of the nest are part of a natural cycle and, sadly, mortality rates are high. It is true that parent birds will do a far superior job than we ever could and we should do our best to leave them all to it.

    The only circumstances that I think human intervention is justified is when you can see that to leave alone will mean certain death for a bird. I raised three Blackbirds a few years ago, when the hedge in which their nest was hidden had been totally rooted out by an unsuspecting neighbour. At the time, we even looked at the possibility of wiring the hedge back together temporarily and seeing if the parents would continue to raise the very young brood (the chicks were, at the most, two days old) but the damage was too great so I took a very challenging task in hand.

    There are folks who would say that I still should have let nature take its course and allow the chicks to perish - and I respect this view. I would only say that this wasn't a 'natural' situation but a man-made one (armed with garden shears). Moreover - I would suggest that the millions of birds killed in the UK each year by motorcars or domestic cats are not natural situations and, occasionally, it is acceptable to step in and redress the balance. I would use witnessing nest predation as an example. It is a natural hurdle for young chicks to face, but I feel it should be left to the individual to decide whether to leave the surviving chicks to be predated later on when the predator returns (as it surely will) or whether to step in and try and prevent another death.

    Bottom line still remains - 9 times out of 10 leave it to the parent birds, but let's not vilify those who feel they have to step in if they cannot just turn away and leave a bird to die.

    On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it - Jules Renard

  • In reply to Goldcrest:

    Hi Jef,

    I didn't feel as though it was appropriate to highlight individual posts. Some of them could well be from younger members seeking advice and inexperienced birders. The posts are there for all to see!

    I'm also not vilifying anyone, I'm merely giving the best possible advice for fledglings in general. The advice is based on the RSPB theory of dealing with fledglings birds.

    I can't give judgement on individual cases and that certainly wasn't my intention.

    I'm certain everyone will use common sense :-}

    Regards Buzzard

    Nature Is Amazing - Let Us Keep It That Way

  • Hi Buzzard

    Thanks so much for posting this sensible and sound advice.

    I hope that everyone reads it.

    Best wishes Chris

    Best wishes Chris

    Click Here to see my photos

  • In reply to Corriepaw:

    Good advice, hopefully people will listen and leave the fledglings alone, or at the most move them to the nearest cover if they are in a dangerous place.  In most cases there is no need at all to bring the bird into captivity and hand rear - especially when they are at an age when they should be learning about the foods they find in  the wild!

    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • In reply to Buzzard:

    Hello Buzzard

    No, you are absolutely right, it would be inappropriate. Sorry, I don't read all the posts on here and Im just panicking in case I do the wrong thing!  I did not expect you to mention indiviual posts and now realise you cannot really elaborate.

    I have never seen any fledgings in trouble thank goodness, so have never had to make any personal decisions with regard to this. Of course you are absolutely correct in your advice, and as you state, any individual cases are a matter of common sense.

    Just on a related incident. When my cats were still young kittens they "escaped" one morning into the garden. The first I heard of it was the most terrible squawking outside. I rushed out to see a just-fledged blackbird holding both the cats at bay by fluttering its wings and making the most terrific noise. The cats were just stunned and didn't dare approach it! I grabbed them both and took them in, leaving the fledging to its parents, full of admiration for this plucky bird. They can be tough little devils! 

    Kind regards Jane.

  • In reply to Goldcrest:

    I'm not posting anything new. I just want this to come to the top of the stack so that people read it.



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  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Sound advice - thanks Buzzard for starting this thread - just to repeat (and get the thread seen again), the only time we need to get involved is if the fledgling is in immediate danger - even then, contact should be minimal and they just need to be placed somewhere nearby so mum and dad can find them again when they come back with food

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