Often interfering with wild young animals is not the best idea. At this time of year it is common to find young fledglings on the ground who are unable to fly – this is a perfectly natural stage in their development. Fledglings will be fully or mostly covered in feathers and will commonly leave their nest before they can fly.
What to do if you find a fledgling
Unless they are in danger – it is best to leave them well alone as you will make them frightened and interfering could potentially scare off their nearby parent who is still responsible for feeding the fledgling and teaching them vital life lessons. If they are in danger, perhaps in the middle of the road, you can move them out of harm’s way but make sure they are within the closest distance to where you found them.
Removing a fledgling from the wild will severely diminish their chance for survival and would impact their life completely. It should only be a very last resort if you are sure they are injured or have been abandoned by their parents.
If you find a very young bird who has no feathers or is only covered in fluffy down and is not capable of hopping, walking, or gripping tightly to your finger, this is a nestling. It is okay to return a nestling to their nest but otherwise do not remove them from where you found them or take them to the vet or to anywhere else, as this will take them away from their best chance of survival. The nest is sure to be nearby but may be well hidden, so have a good look if you can’t find it straight away, birds sometimes nest in the most unlikely of places!
Sometimes people are concerned that touching a bird will make them smell like us and will cause automatic rejection by their parents. This is not the case, birds have a poor sense of smell and parent birds will not reject their chicks for this reason if you have had to move them back into their nest.
If you are unsure, it is best to leave the bird alone and perhaps observe from a distance to see if the parents are nearby. Always call us or a wildlife organisation before interfering to see what they can advise on what to do.