Fledglings – what to do
In late spring and early summer many baby birds, known as fledglings, make early attempts to fly that may result in them being separated from their nest and their mother. Here are some simple methods of helping these vulnerable young birds.
Assess the situation:
- Does the baby bird have its feathers?
- Can it perch?
- Is it healthy – alert, sitting straight, active?
- No injuries, blood on feathers etc?
If the fledgling is healthy, use one of the methods below to help keep them safe:
Fledgling rescue method 1:
- If the fledgling has feathers and can perch place it on a branch the right size for it to grip, near where it was picked up.
- If the baby bird cannot perch and/or has no feathers use one of the methods below.
Fledgling rescue method 2:
- Try to locate the nest and place the fledgling back in.
- If the nest has fallen out of the tree, wedge it securely back into place.
Fledgling rescue method 3:
- Place the young bird on top of a thick hedge. This will be hard for cats to climb up onto and also gives a good platform from which to eventually take off.
- The youngster will call out for its parents and should be fed by them until it's time to take that first major flight, hopefully within a week or so.
Fledgling rescue method 4:
- Cut an ice cream or milk container in half and discard the top part.
- Punch small holes in the bottom (for drainage) and holes in the side (small enough to feed string, thread, or wire through) and hang it from either a tree branch or clothesline. (The clothesline is preferable, as cats have difficulty climbing up clothesline poles.)
- Put bark shavings, leaves, etc, in the bottom of the container.
- The bird should call out and be fed by the parents until it gets its full flying wings and is ready to leave.
Move well back and watch for evidence of adults interacting with the baby. You may see the parents immediately but it is also possible that they may take a few minutes to appear.
If the baby bird is too young, or sick or injured, it will need to be taken into care by a knowledgeable bird carer. It is essential to keep it warm with a hot water bottle or equivalent but please do not try to feed the bird and keep handling to a minimum.
If you are not sure what to do please contact SPCA Auckland or Bird Rescue.