Call to help baby birds being separated from families

Scottish SPCA dealing with spike in reports of birds in need, when often they are just learning to fly.

Birds: Nestlings are shown on the left, while on the right is a fledgling.
Birds: Nestlings are shown on the left, while on the right is a fledgling.

An animal welfare charity has asked for the public’s help to make sure baby birds are not separated from their families.

The Scottish SPCA has been dealing with a spike in reports of birds in need during lockdown, when often they are just learning to fly.

Last week the organisation responded to 296 reports, having received just 35 for the same period in the month before.

A campaign has since been launched to remind the public when they should contact them about young wildlife.

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Of the 82,000 jobs the society’s inspectors and animal rescue officers took on in last year, almost 10% involved a fledgling or a nestling.

A fledgling is a fully feathered young bird which will be learning to fly if it’s out of the nest, while a nestling will either be fluffy or unfeathered and should never be out of its nest.

There is no cause for immediate concern to see a fledgling out of the nest but a nestling out of the nest is likely to be in need of help.

Mike Flynn, the Scottish SPCA’s chief superintendent, said: “Every year, we see a massive spike in reports of baby birds as we move from spring to summer.

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“This year, we believe the increase may have been so dramatic as recent easing of restrictions means folk are out and about more often.

“People spot a fledgling out of the nest and approach it with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, this can scare off the parents, meaning we have to take the baby bird to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre until it is old enough to be released and survive in the wild on its own.

“We love caring for these birds, but we’d love it even more if we could keep families together in their natural environment.

“If everyone follows the advice on our website or calls our animal helpline for support before they approach a baby bird, we’ll be able to make sure we only rescue those who genuinely need it.”


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