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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

During Spring fledglings that have been found on the ground are often taken in to veterinary surgeries by well-meaning members of the public - but is this the best thing to do ?

When fledglings leave the nest for the first time they are often unable to fly properly, and may tire quickly. In most cases a fledgling that is found "abandoned" on the ground will only be a short distance from its nest and its parent will be very close - watching. The best advice is to leave the bird alone, do not touch it, and try not to loiter for too long near to the fledgling otherwise its parent may be frightened off.

Fledglings are always at risk from predators - domestic cats, birds, snakes and others  - and unfortunately the evolutionary rule of "survival of the fittest" comes in to play. A fledgling that is unable to fly properly when it should may have a serious disorder which may prevent it from surviving very long by itself. Under such circumstances a rapid death by becoming a meal for another animal may be preferable to a lingering, slow death  from hunger or disease. 

Sometimes it is impossible for people to leave a fledgling to take its chances - particularly if there is a cat or other predator in the vicinity. In a situation like this it is reasonable to attempt to put the bird out of harms way. If possible wear a pair of protective gloves - to protect yourself from being pecked, and to minimise the transfer of smells from you to the fledgling. Hold the bird firmly and securely - but do not be too rough. Keep the handling time to a minimum otherwise the stress caused can be a further risk to the bird. Ideally, place the bird back in its nest.....look above you. If it is a bird that usually nests in buildings look under eaves, if it usually nests in trees or bushes look for those. If the nest can not be located place the fledgling in a secure, elevated place, for example on a ledge or branch where it would be physically difficult for a cat to get at it.

Once a fledgling has been handled the parent may reject it, so handling should only be done as a last resort.

Finally,  it is advisable to take a fledgling to a veterinary practice if the bird has been injured. The vet will be able to determine if the bird can be treated or whether it would be kinder to put it to sleep to save further suffering. 

In some cases young fledglings can be successfully reared by hand, but the mortality rate is high, and hand-reared wild birds may not develop normal behaviour and so may be unable to survive by themselves.


Updated October 2013