It’s that time of year again, when the clocks go forward, the days get longer and baby birds are born – spring is here! With that, unfortunately, will come an increase in chicks falling from nests or getting separated from its parents.

So what do you do if you find a lost baby bird?


The most important first step is to look and assess the situation before deciding whether this bird needs help or whether it should be left alone. Bringing a bird into captivity should always be a last resort. Only done when absolutely necessary for the health and welfare of the animal.

It is always best if the bird is raised in the wild by its parents and it stands a much greater chance of surviving if able to do this. Sadly there are situations when birds are injured or orphaned and as such will not survive on their own in the wild without human intervention. However, this is not always the case. It is important the decision to take a bird out of the wild is made with as much information as possible to avoid causing harm.

A good way of doing that is to answer the following questions which will assist in making a decision on whether the bird needs rescuing: 

1) Does the bird have feathers?

Yes 

Leave the bird alone and monitor it for a few hours, its parents should come back and look for it when it calls.

No 

This is a nestling bird and will not survive long exposed to the elements, if there is a nest nearby, handle the bird carefully wearing gloves and replace the bird in the nest. If you cannot see a nest call a wildlife rescue without delay for advice before removing the animal from the wild. 

2) Does the bird seem bright, alert and active with no obvious sign of injury or illness?

Yes 

Leave the bird alone and monitor it for a few hours, its parents should come back and look for it when it calls.

Vetster option 01 (Blog)

No 

If the bird is collapsed, obviously injured or clearly unwell then take it to the local veterinary surgeon without delay. 

I dont know 

If you are unsure if the behaviour you are seeing is normal, call your local wildlife rescue (or the RSPCA) for advice before removing the bird. They will be able to advise you if what you are seeing is normal behaviour or if the bird needs to be assessed by a vet. Removing birds from the wild into captivity should always be a last resort.

3) Are there adult birds around? 

Yes 

Leave the bird alone and monitor it for a few hours. Its parents should come back when you are out of sight. Make sure you are not too close to the bird and observe from a distance. The parents will see you as a danger and may avoid coming back. 

No 

Monitor the bird from a distance for a few hours. Sometimes the adult birds are not obvious and may hide when you are close by. Observe from a distance and watch for their return, if they do not come back within 2 hours phone your local wildlife centre for advice before bringing removing the bird from the wild. 

I dont know 

If you are unsure, call your local wildlife rescue for advice before removing the bird. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Vetster option 02 (Blog)

4) Are there any imminent predators or dangers nearby?

Yes 

Can you remove the danger, such as keeping a cat indoors? If not then try and protect the bird from harm by moving it a short distance out of harm’s way where it can still be heard by its parents when it calls.

No 

Leave the bird alone and monitor from a distance for a few hours.

5) Has the bird been on its own for over 2 hours with no sign of any adult birds around?

Yes 

This bird may be an orphan and may need care in a wildlife rehabilitation facility, always aim to call the wildlife centre before removing the bird from the wild as they will be able to best advise you on the situation. 

No 

Leave the bird alone and monitor from a distance for a few hours then repeat this question series.

In summary:

  • It is always best to leave a bird in the wild unless absolutely necessary to remove it
  • Always call your local wildlife rescue for advice before removing a bird from the wild
  • If a bird is clearly badly injured and suffering take it to your local veterinary surgeon without
    delay

To find your local wildlife rescue follow this link: Find a Rehabilitator

For more species-specific advice on baby birds found in the wild follow this link: Found a baby bird – What to do