Nature with Nik Mitchell: Fledgling birds

Fledgling bird

Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell, from Minster, runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook:

As spring turns to summer, baby birds leave the nest and are often discovered by people that wrongly think the fledglings need help. Seeing a lonely baby bird is totally normal and there’s no need to be worried unless they are obviously injured.

These fledglings have normally left the nest deliberately before they are able to fly. Every year I see people have wrongly picked up fledgling birds, put them in a box then taken to social media to ask for help Although it’s tempting, interfering with a young bird like this will do much more harm than good, rescue centres are always overwhelmed and often cannot provide care.

Young fledgling birds are very unlikely to be abandoned by their parents. If you cannot see the adult birds that does not mean that they are not about. The parents are probably just out looking for food or close by watching. Infact the parent birds may be scared by your presence.

Fledglings should be left where they are. Knowing when to rescue a baby bird can sometimes be tricky.



A hatchling or nestling needs to be rescued immediately. If possible, return it or them to the nest, but only if you know exactly where the nest is, otherwise it will need to be rescued. If you find the nest has been damaged by winds you can make a temporary nest to get the baby up and out the reach of predators.


A small box, or plastic container with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage in case of rain, line it with tissues or paper towels.

Birds have a poor sense of smell, they will NOT abandon their chick just because you’ve handled it.


Most of the time a healthy well feathered fledgling will leave its nest before it can fly, it will just be hopping about and fluttering into bushes for cover and the parent birds will be returning to feed it. Please leave these birds alone!

It’s very important that if you have a cat, you either keep it indoors this time of year or at least put a bell on it because cats are the biggest threat to a young bird. A recent study found 275million animals are killed by cats each year in the UK of which 55million are birds. Every year I attend many bird rescues due to cats and it’s not simply nature, its totally out of balance.

So, to round up Hatchling or Nestling – find nest or rescue. Fledgling – Leave alone.

It’s a great joy to see young fledgling birds just starting out and seeing the big wide world for the first time. Help them get safely to the next stage of their life and enjoy that lovely spring sight of new life.


  1. Good advice about keeping your cat indoors at this time of year. Some people don’t though and just say it is natural behaviour of a cat.
    We had a nest in the hedge and were excited to see the activity going on but last week a neighbours cat grabbed each fledgling and killed them as they appeared. It even went into the bush looking for others when no more appeared. It’s a shame bird populations are being wiped out through pet predations. The neighbours couldn’t care less.

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