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RSPB’s Top Tips To Help Baby Birds in Your Garden

05th March 2018

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RSPB’s Jamie Wyver tells us what to do if you find a young fledgling this spring
This baby blue tit has become the poster bird for chicks around the UK this breeding season as it yells for its Mum while looking helpless, dishevelled and desperate. Our natural reaction might be to move it somewhere safer or even take it indoors. But the RSPB urges everyone to leave baby birds alone, because interfering could do more harm than good. The wildlife conservation charity’s phones are red hot at this time of year, with worried callers who have seen chicks they fear have been abandoned and want to help.

The advice they are given is to let nature take its course wherever possible and rest assured that Mum is probably close by and most definitely knows best. This precarious period when birds first leave the nest may look harsh, but is all part of the process of a young bird learning to survive on its own.

Justin Hoffman, who captured the lead image and the different stages of this blue tit leaving the nest, says: “We’ve been very lucky to have a pair of blue tits nesting in our garden for many years. While drinking my morning coffee, I could hear some earnest cheeping outside, so I peered out the back window towards our garden nest box. I could see a little head peeking out the nest box hole – the chicks were fledging! This chick clumsily made its way to a sturdy perch and began calling out loudly as one of the parents returned with a juicy meal!”

Simon Mott, RSPB wildlife advisor, says: “There are so many fluffy, tatty looking chicks making a song and dance in gardens and parks and it’s understandable that people are worried they may be vulnerable. But it’s so important that they are left alone. Parents rarely abandon their chicks and although you may not be able to see or hear them, they will always be close by and likely return soon.”

If the chick has very few feathers it may have fallen out of the nest. If it looks in imminent danger you can contact animal welfare charity, the RSPCA, on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA’s Lucy Cooper says: “It’s lovely that so many people care for wild birds and naturally want to help if they find a fledgling, but we do advise people watch from a distance and if they are in immediate danger, place them in a sheltered spot a short distance away. RSPCA wildlife centres care for more than 1,000 fledglings each year as they’ve been picked up by well-meaning members of the public during the spring months because they are concerned they have been abandoned by their parents. However, if you see a baby bird with a few feathers, or none at all, it is a nestling and will not survive for long outside the protection of a nest. Please take it to a local vet or wildlife rehabilitator.”

If you are worried that a bird is genuinely injured, visibly sick or in danger, visit rspca.org.uk

For more information on how to help nesting birds and their chicks in your garden through feeding, shelter and planting, visit rspb.org.uk

Image: Justin Hoffman

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