Found a Bird?

The first thing to remember when you find a baby animal, is that in most cases the animal should be left alone. Each Spring and Summer in particular, we are inundated with calls from people who find what they think is an abandoned young bird or orphaned animal. In many cases these youngsters have not been abandoned.

All too often we are presented with a baby animal that should have been left with their parents, this is particularly the case with birds.

After a few weeks, birds fledge the nest to become fledglings, therefore they have enough feathers to partly fly. They often leave the nest and live on the ground for a week or so, still being cared for by their parents until they can fully fly. Fledglings should not be moved unless they are in immediate danger.


  • Baby animals stand a far greater chance of survival if they can be left with their parents, even when on the ground will be fed regularly as the parent is most likely close by.
  • Do not move any baby animal unless they are injured or in immediate danger.
  • Watch a young fledglings bird constantly, often their parents aren’t far away and will return to feed them, but not if you’re frightening them off!
  • Do not think that because the bird appears alone that it had been abandoned, the parent may just not be visible.
  • There is always a period of time just after the youngster has left the nest when it spends most of the day either on the ground or hopping amongst shrubs and trees. During this time it does not need to be scooped up and brought inside. Please do not rush in and pick it up, leave it where it is and watch it from a careful distance.
  • If it is in danger from traffic, cats, larger birds, strong sunlight or heavy rain move it to a safer spot (using gloved hands) nearby so the parents can find it.
  • Only if the bird has been alone for more than a couple of hours should you consider stepping in, but do not attempt to rear the bird yourself.
  • However, if it is a newborn (no feathers, eyes closed) get it to a wildlife centre as soon as possible. It needs to be kept warm but do not attempt to feed it or give it water as you could drown it.

Handling Birds

  • Several people are worried about doing the bird more harm by actually catching it. The most important thing to remember is to stop the wings flapping by gently picking the bird up with both hands around its body and over its wings.
  • By preventing it from flapping, you will not only stop it from sustaining any further injury, but the bird will struggle less, making it easier to transfer it to a cardboard box.
  • Please remember that some birds have very powerful beaks. Birds such as seagulls, rooks, crows, jackdaws and magpies will need to be handled using gloves, as they will use their beaks for defense.
  • Birds of prey will use their extremely sharp claws to warn you off, so be very careful.
  • Herons and gannets will go for your face and eyes, so make sure that you have a firm grip on the beak at all times.
  • The best method of transporting any bird is to put it in a cardboard box or pet carrier with a towel or newspaper in the bottom. Keep the box covered at all times to avoid it escaping and it will also help to reduce the stress the bird.
  • Wire cages should not be used for birds as they will most likely damage their feathers or injure themselves even more.
When should you rescue a bird?When should you not rescue a bird?
If the bird is obviously injuredIf the bird is out of the nest but being fed
If the bird is out of it’s nest and is not feathered (try to return to the nest first if possible)If it is not safe for you to do so and you are putting yourself in danger
If the bird is out of it’s nest and there is no sign of a parent bird for a couple of hoursIf the bird is fully feathered and not in any current danger
If the nest has been destroyed and the occupants are not fully feathered 
If the bird is in immediate danger from a cat, cars or any other threat 
If both parents have been killed 

Injured, Abandoned or Orphaned Mammals

NOTE If you put your scent on a baby mammal, the mother will reject them. Either do no handle them until you need to, or were gloves, having rubbed bedding on them to get the mothers scent.