Hands off baby birds

Neil Aldridge

Nature lovers should leave baby birds alone if they find them on the ground according to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

The majority of fledglings are just learning to fly and will be receiving instructions from their parents who will be sitting in trees nearby.

With the breeding season in full flight at the moment many chicks will be heaving themselves out of the nest and taking a leap of faith before flying high or fluttering to the ground.

The Wildlife Trust’s Communications Officer Alan Wright said: “It is upsetting to see a young bird flapping and ruffling its feathers. They may look abandoned but their parents should be close by giving them encouragement. The last thing they want is for a human to come along to stop the flying lesson.

“It’s only like a toddler flopping to the ground as he or she learns to walk. It’s all about practice and while it may look frustrating it will do the fledgling good in the long run. They often spend a couple of days on the ground before their feathers grow properly. The young birds need to get the right diet from their parents and to learn their own language.

“If you can’t see the parent birds nearby they will normally recognize and respond to the chicks calls for attention. Sometimes they are dealing with four or five young at the same time.”

Obviously if the bird appears to be in imminent danger then it is sensible to move it to a safer place like a tree branch, but not too far away.

All this will depend on the bird’s age and the majority of birds out of the nest will be fledglings and close to flying. If the bird is feathered, can hop and its toes can tightly grip, it’s a fledgling. They tend to be fluffy, with stubby tails.

Alan said: “Fledglings rarely to go back to their nest so there is no point placing them back in there. However if you find a nestling – with few feathers, which cannot hop or grip – then put it back into the nest (if you can reach it) as quickly as possible. Birds do not recognise their young by smell, so you might just save its life.

“Unfortunately young birds do die at this time of year and some are victims of predators, but unless there is obvious danger it is better just to let birds do their own thing.

“Only last week we found a nest of great tits under a traffic cone in Cuerden Valley Park. The five chicks in the nest have now left the nest and are being looked after by their parents around the park.”

Anyone concerned about birds or other wildlife should contact the RSPCA or the Wildlife Trust at info@lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.