FAQS - Garden Birds

A young, bare looking bird has fallen out of its nest. What should I do?

Baby birds can often be placed back in a nest (using gloved hands) if it can be located.  If no nest is visible a makeshift nest should be fashioned form a tissue box or similar and can be hung from a tree/washing line etc (out of the reach of cats).

Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return.  Baby birds are fed pretty constantly throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within an hour or so, you should probably intervene.

Keep the bird warm and quiet and take it in to your local wildlife centre as soon as possible for feeding.  Do not try to feed it yourself as – it is easy to suffocate young birds with chunks of food that are too big for it to handle.  Please do not wait for too long before seeking help as a couple of hours could make the difference to a small bird’s survival.

There is a fledged youngster on the ground - but it looks too young to fly. Can I help it?

It will depend on the type of bird. If you are having trouble identifying it, call local experts for help.

Finches and Dunnocks

Should be left alone and observed from a distance. The parents should visit them at least every hour or so. They should only be brought in if orphaned or abandoned with no parental contact for 3-4 hours or in imminent danger from a cat.

Small & Speckled

Robins separate their young, park them under bushes and feed them regularly. If there is no danger from cats, leave them alone and observe from a distance, to make sure the parents are still around. It may take some time to see if all is well, as the youngsters are well camouflaged.

Blue Tits & Great-tits

Are sometimes seen alone in bushes. Parents separate broods for safety once fledged, and make the rounds, feeding them in turn. If found on the ground, put in a dense bush or hedge nearby and watch from a distance to see if the parents come with food.

Blackbird / Thrush

Youngsters may have fallen from a perch or not be good enough at flying to get back into a tree. They spend a lot of time on the ground as they feed on worms, snails and bugs so need to be observed to make sure they can escape a predator and are being looked after by a parent.

Corvids – Crow/Jackdaw/Jay/Magpie Family

Youngsters leave the nest when fledged and are looked after on the ground by attentive parents for several days, until able to fly properly. They should not be “rescued” if the parents are still around. A lot of their time is spent on the ground, learning to find food and they can hop up into bushes to get away from predators. They have to spend time on the ground to enable space to practice flying and building the strength in their wing muscles, this is perfectly natural and normal as they cannot do this in the confines of their nest.

If you really feel that the corvid could be in danger from cats or other predators, then pick up gently with a tea towel or gardening gloves, and place into a cardboard box with the lid open which can then be hung from a tree/washing line etc (out of the reach of cats). Advise people to keep their cats in until they have moved on, which is usually only a couple of days maximum.

Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return.  Juvenile corvids are fed pretty constantly throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within a few hours; contact your local rescue centre for help.

Seeing blood on a young corvids mouth is not a reason to worry, as these birds often eat pieces of meat brought to them from their parents, and this could be the blood you can see. As long as the bird is active, lively, and has no obvious other signs of injury, it is far better to leave them alone.

Most years we get approximately 30 – 40 juvenile corvids of all species brought in to us that simply did not need to come in due to the reasons stated above.

My cat has brought in a bird. What should I do?

Keep the bird quiet and dark and get it to your local rescue centre as soon as possible.  Cats have a lot of bacteria in their mouths and it will need antibiotics, as infection is very quick to spread.  Any wounds may not be visible, so we would always advise you take it immediately to your local rescue centre.

A bird has flown into my window and seems stunned / there is an injured bird on the ground near a window. Should I just leave it?

The bird is probably concussed. Place it in a dark, ventilated box, such as shoe box with holes punched in it, and keep it quiet for at least 1 hour. Check on its progress and if it seems to be improved, try opening the box in their garden. If the bird does not fly away please take it to your nearest wildlife rescue.

I have found a bird with a broken wing

Please bring the bird to your local wildlife rescue in a ventilated box.  Occasionally broken wings can be mended, but if not we will euthanise the bird to prevent further suffering.

A bird has fallen down my chimney

Firstly, is there a fire at the bottom of the chimney?  If there is a gas fire, then unfortunately we cannot attend until the fire has been disconnected by an authorised person.  If you are able to clear the fireplace then you should leave the room dark and quiet for a couple of hours to see if the bird makes its way out of its own accord.  If it is still stuck after this then please contact your local wildlife rescue and they may try and come out to rescue the bird.

I have found a nest of newly hatched chicks when cutting back my tree

Please try and put the nest back in a suitable, close by tree and observe for a couple of hours to see if the parents return.  If they do not, then please bring the nest into your local wildlife rescue so that they can be cared for.

I have found a nest of eggs when cutting back my tree

Please try and put the nest back in a suitable tree and observe for a couple of hours to see if the parents return.  We are not able to help as it is illegal to take, possess or control any wild birds’ eggs, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Sadly, the eggs must therefore be left to go cold.

I have found a Swift/Swallow or House Martin, what should I do?

It is particularly important that Swifts are not forced to eat unsuitable food as it will damage their feather development.  It is important that all birds are rescued as soon as possible so they can be given an insect diet and raised until they are able to catch their own food.  Also, even when Swifts are well-feathered, they are not always ready to fly and need to be assessed properly at a wildlife rescue centre.

I have hit a pheasant / grouse with my car, and can’t tell how badly it is injured

Please stay with the bird for about 20 minutes.  It may just be stunned, and will move off once it has recovered.  If it doesn’t, then please cover the bird with a towel, and bring it into your nearest rescue centre.

LEGAL WARNING: The felling of trees with nesting birds is only legally permissible between November and January, and violations can result in hefty fines for disturbing nests – £1,000 per nest and an additional £1,000 per bird or egg. Our plea to everyone is NOT to cut down trees or hedges at all during spring months but if you really do need to remove a tree please make sure you get a survey done first and that you have permission from the local council to do so, and do so at the right time of year. This is all subject to very strict regulations – and those regulations are there for a good reason.

Some useful telephone numbers:

RSPB: 01767 693690