Fledglings are baby birds that are more or less fully feathered. It is common to find them on the ground during the warmer months, even if they don’t look to be moving around much.
The majority of fledglings will leave a cramped nest a day or two early, allowing their last few feathers to develop while they stretch their wings. The parents continue feeding and keeping an eye on their chicks; even if you can’t see them at the time, they will be away gathering food or watching you from a distance.
Unless the fledgling is visibly injured, the best thing you can do is leave it well alone. However, if you find a chick near the road, on a path or in another place that could pose a threat, gently pick it up and move it to a sheltered spot as nearby as possible. Birds communicate with one another constantly, so can easily reunite if they are in hearing distance.
If the fledgling is definitely injured, or is obviously unwell, transport it safely home before contacting your nearest wildlife rescue.
Why can't I raise a chick myself?
Taking care of a baby bird yourself – nursing it back to health and releasing it back into the wild – is a heart-warming thought. And, while there is a lot of information on the internet about raising chicks at home, it is best leaving it to the experts.
Baby birds need a specialised diet and feeding regime to reach full health. Injured or abandoned chicks are best raised by a professional wildlife rehabilitator, and there are plenty of organisations you can contact to locate one:
- The RSPCA (in England and Wales)
- The SSPCA (in Scotland)
- The USPCA (in Northern Ireland)
- One of the organisations listed by Help Wildlife
- One of the organisations listed by the RSPCA