Please DON’T pick up baby birds!
With spring nearly here, it is important that everyone knows what to do if they find a baby bird on the ground. The best course of action is almost always to leave it where it is and not handle it.
People are often worried that if they leave the bird where it is, it will become prey for local cats and dogs. This may be the case, but in many cases they can survive quite well, particularly if it can be made safer for them by locking your own cat inside or taking other actions to reduce the risk to the bird such as putting a sign near the bird so dog and cat owners are aware the bird is there. Most species of birds will have a higher survival rate by being left alone on the ground than they will in captivity. Often the birds parents will still be caring for, protecting and feeding the bird on the ground, and for some species it is perfectly normal for them to leave the nest before they can fly, or they are nearly ready to fly but venture out of the nest just a few days too early.
We realise that many people feel that leaving a bird on the ground will lead to certain death for it, and unfortunately in some cases that may be true, but overall the bird will have a much better chance if it is left alone.
If the bird is “rescued” and take into a vets or wildlife carer, the chances of that bird ever being released and experiencing a normal, free life are very small. Birds rely very heavily on learning and imprinting from other birds, and without this they are unable to survive in the wild. Many species of birds cope quite poorly in captivity, so once they are removed from their normal environment they have little chance of survival at all. Those that do survive are often unable to be released due to a lack of survival skills, so are condemned to a life of captivity.
Unfortunately, the first we are aware of a bird being “rescued” by a member of the public is when the bird is brought in to us to see if we can help it. At this point, the damage has already been done and the young birds chances of a normal life have almost always disappeared. Please remember, if in doubt, always call a vet clinic or wildlife carer BEFORE handling a bird on the ground. We are always happy to offer advice.