Found a baby bird out of a nest?

In the spring and summer, it's very common to find baby birds on the ground. Birds take far better care of their babies than humans can, so if you find a baby bird, keep your pets away and follow our advice below.

Bird flu warning

Due to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) currently in place across the UK, some baby birds can't be handled. Please follow our bird flu and baby birds advice to check which species can be handled and what to do.

If the baby bird has no feathers

Two nestlings © RSPCA

Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or only a few. Nestlings won't survive long outside the protection of the nest, and where possible nestlings should be re-nested and left in the wild.

If you can't see a nest in the surrounding trees, or it's fallen down or been damaged, then you can make a replacement nest to put the nestling back into. This could be as simple as a basket or plant pot with some nesting material inside, securely attached to the nearest tree.

If the bird is injured, the quickest way to help is to contact your local wildlife rescue centre or vet.

If the baby bird has feathers

Two fledglings © RSPCA

Fledglings have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly, so it's normal to see them on the ground. Keep your pets away from them, leave the fledgling alone and monitor it, as the parents are usually nearby and feeding the bird.

Even if you have already confined a healthy fledgling, you may still be able to return them to their parents. If they're in immediate danger, place them in a sheltered spot a short distance away.

If it's a fledgling

If it's a nestling

How to protect a baby bird from danger

If the baby bird is out of its nest and in immediate danger, then you can pick it up (using gloves) and move it a very short distance to somewhere safe - no more than a few metres away.

Look for somewhere with shelter for the bird, and where the parents will still be able to find them easily.

How to tell if a baby bird has been orphaned

You should only take baby birds into captivity as a last resort if:

  • They're sick or injured
  • You know for sure that the parents are dead
  • You've continuously monitored them from a distance for more than two hours and the parents haven't returned.

In these cases, you should contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre or vet as soon as possible.

What to do if the baby bird is visibly injured

An injured baby bird will need specialist care and rehabilitation to survive, so the best thing to do is to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation centre or a vet as soon as possible.

You may be asked to take the bird to the centre yourself. If you need to handle the bird, follow our advice about handling and boxing it up.

If the wildlife centre or vets are unavailable, or you're unable to transport the baby bird, please contact us.

Leave eggs and nests alone

Birds are at their most vulnerable when nesting. Any disturbance could kill or hurt the wild birds and their young - or cause them to abandon their nests, eggs and young.

Birds' eggs are also legally protected, so please don't touch or move them even if you want to help the birds, as you might be breaking the law.

If you've found a nest that you think needs to be moved, check you're legally able to.

Not all birds nest in trees

Not all bird species nest in trees or remain in the nest until they're a fledgling. Follow the links below to find out more about specific species of birds and how they nest.

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