Baby Birds

Nestling vs. Fledgling

We are urging the public to be mindful of fledglings and nestlings as part of our #SSPCABabyBirds campaign.

Last year we received an average of 140 calls a day from members of the public concerned about baby birds.

Although some young birds are rescued because they are injured, many fledglings are in good health but were picked up by worried passers-by when they should have been left alone.


What is a fledgling?

A fledgling is a fully feathered young bird that is typically found out of the nest learning to fly, which is normal.

It’s understandable for people to be concerned when they come across a young bird on the ground that appears clumsy and unable to fly. However, this is a vital part of the learning to fly process for fledglings and the parents are very likely to be nearby, watching their young making their first efforts to take to the skies.

We would ask anyone who has concerns to try to monitor the fledglings from a distance to see if the parents appear within a couple of hours.

If it does seem a baby bird has been abandoned or orphaned, they should call our animal helpline for advice.

If a fully feathered young bird is in harm’s way, on a road or somewhere it could be vulnerable to predators then it may be possible to move them to a safer spot in a nearby hedge or tree.

What is a nestling?

Although finding a fledgling on the ground is normal, finding a nestling on the ground is not.

An unfeathered or fluffy bird is a nestling, and if found on the ground needs our help immediately.

Anyone who comes across a nestling on the ground should contain it in a small, ventilated box and call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 immediately.

Under no circumstances should anyone who discovers a nest try to touch or move the fledgling or nestlings inside. This is illegal and could cause the parents to abandon them.

For further advice please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Follow #SSPCABabyBirds on social media to find out more about the baby birds in our care!





Bird rescued by the Scottish SPCA being fed

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