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RSPCA urges "Do Not Disturb" warning for baby birds

RSPCA urges well-meaning public not to touch fledglings

Well-meaning public urged not to touch baby birds

Baby owls Credit: PA

During the heatwave many well meaning members of the public have seen fledgling birds outside of their nest.

Most fledglings discovered by members of the public are mistakenly thought to be injured or abandoned, and subsequently moved from their natural habitat.

Depending on the age of the bird human interference could be causing more harm than good.

Young garden birds, or fledglings, usually leave the nest two weeks after hatching and during this vulnerable period of their lives they are fed on the ground by their parents. Tawny owl fledglings are even able to climb back up to their nests on their own.

No matter how well-meaning, moving or touching fledglings can reduce a young bird’s chances of survival. Handling can cause extreme stress and being fed an inappropriate diet can cause developmental problems. It is important to remember that the parents of the bird will look after it and come back for it.

The RSPCA hoping to prevent thousands of baby birds such as blackbirds, housemartins, blue tits and wood pigeons from being handled unnecessarily.

Inspector Kate Levesley who covers Staffordshire and Warwickshire said: “We are getting around two calls per week from concerned members of the public who have taken in fledglings.

“Many people don’t realise that young birds are fed by their parents on the ground and often that parent will be nearby.

“After moving the bird you may forget where you have taken it from and that could be disastrous for the welfare of the bird.

“We would advise people to look from a distance if you see a young bird that might be injured and don’t automatically rush in.”

Senior scientific officer at the RSPCA Adam Grogan said: “Unless a baby bird is clearly a nestling, or is a fledgling that is injured or in immediate danger it is best to leave them alone.

“Our wildlife centres care for more than a thousand ‘orphaned’ fledglings each year, picked up by well-meaning people. Most of these birds are not orphans and would have had a better life in the wild.

“Our advice would be to leave a fledgling alone and watch from a distance. It’s likely that the parents are still around to take care of the bird.

“As well meaning as it is no one should try to return a bird to the nest. You may have the wrong nest, it may disturb the other young birds and may be illegal. If a fledgling is in immediate danger, place it in a sheltered spot a short distance away.”

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