Baby Birds - nestlings and fledglings

Posted on 02/09/2015

Spring is here and we’re asking you to get Bird Smart!
At this time of year we receive hundreds of calls from the public who are concerned about a baby bird they have found out of its nest and we have a large influx of baby birds being brought into our centre.
In most cases these birds are not injured and are not in need of any extra care. In fact they often have a much better chance of surviving to adulthood if they are left in their own habitat.
We have put together some key points about baby and young birds to help you decide what to do if you find a bird out of the nest – it could make the difference to whether a baby bird survives or not.
Is the baby bird bleeding or injured?
Yes – the bird needs to be taken to the nearest vet clinic or SPCA as soon as possible where it will be given veterinary care. Any vet clinic or SPCA will take the bird free of charge.
If possible, call ahead to let them know you are on your way and explain the condition of the bird.
No – if there are no signs that the bird is injured or bleeding, you need to identify if it’s a nestling or fledgling and then follow the advice below:
A nestling is a very young baby bird which will have very few feathers, pinky-blue skin and will not be able to walk.
Nestlings out of the nest are the most vulnerable, so try and locate its nest and place the bird back in it as soon as possible. Take extra care not to disturb the nest or any other nestlings or unhatched eggs that may be in it. If you cannot find the nest, place the bird in a small container (eg. an ice cream container) lined with tissue and secure it to a nearby tree. Leave the area and monitor the nest from a distance. The parents will return to care for the bird once they feel it is safe to do so and should continue to care for it.
Is it a fledgling?
A fledgling is a baby bird which is fully-feathered and can walk.
After hatching, baby birds leave the nest and can spend up to two weeks on the ground before they are able to fly. During this time, the parents continue to care for them by bringing them food and scaring off predators. Human intervention is likely to lessen the fledgling’s chance of survival so if in doubt, leave the bird alone. The only time you should move a fledgling is if you find it in a potentially hazardous situation like a busy footpath or car park. In this case, you should carefully relocate the baby bird to an area with plenty of vegetation cover.