It is not always easy to tell when wild animals need our help, and when it is best to leave them alone. This blog post and the included flowcharts are thought to be a rough guide for situations where no expert advice and help is at hand immediately. If you have found an orphaned, injured or poorly bird, then please read the guidance provided here in this blog post together with the FLOWCHARTS No1 and No2 and follow the instructions given there.
It is important to note that specific features of hatchlings, nestlings, fledglings and juvenile birds can vary significantly among different species. Each bird species has its own unique characteristics and growth patterns. So, if you are trying to identify a specific bird, it is helpful to consult field guides, online resources or seek expert advice to accurately identify the species based on its distinctive features.
At this time of the year we are contacted on a daily basis by members of the public, who have found, rescued and raised a corvid fledgling, all with good intentions of course. If we are not being contacted at the very beginning of a rescue journey, mostly for advice about the diet of corvids, then it is usually at the point where people feel that their foster bird might be ready for release soon. Unfortunately, our advice is often a disappointment if not a shock to many of these hobby rescuers, as in most cases the desired immediate release is not an option, or at least not an option which gives the foster bird a sufficient chance of survival. We do understand that circumstances will differ greatly, and that expert help is not always at hand. Therefore it is also important that the rescuer understands, that the likelihood of survival will differ greatly as well, as corvids are not belonging to those bird families, which can be hand raised by their own and hard released immediately after they have fledged. There are of course certain ways to ensure that the rescue bird gets the best second chance he or she deserves. However, to achieve the best possible outcome, decisions should ideally be made before a bird is being hand raised without appropriate company.
All wild birds are protected during nesting season. This includes their nests, whilst in use or being built, as well as any eggs the nest may contain. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) it is an offence to:
intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird,
intentionally damage, destroy or take the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built,
intentionally destroy an egg of any wild bird
and intentionally or recklessly disturb certain wild birds or their dependent young while they are nesting.
Not every ‘baby’ bird found needs to be rescued. A large number of fledglings are scooped up by well meaning people and brought to wildlife rescues and veterinary surgeries, who do not need to be rescued at all. The difficulty is to decide, who does need help, and who doesn’t. This blog post tries to address some of the common scenarios one is likely to encounter. If in doubt, and the bird is not in immediate danger, then please stay with the bird and contact your local wildlife rescue to get expert advice. It is important to remember that the natural parents are always the best parents. Even the best wildlife rescue with the most experienced rehabbers will not be able to match the knowledge and expertise of natural bird parents.