Why We Should Leave Fledglings Alone

Fledglings often leave their nest before learning to fly. Fledglings are often feathered but may appear to have a shorter tail or immature feathers. They often wander along the ground with siblings generally near by (they can scatter in different directions especially if startled, giving the appearance that they are on their own). During this time, their parents are still watching (even if you can't see them) and caring for them (providing food and protection from predators). Once they learn to fly, their parents then teach them how to find food and prepare them to survive on their own.

People often find fledglings on the ground or stranded and think they are injured or unwell. This period of transition which can last several days is very important for survival of these birds and should not be interrupted. Birds brought into human care during this time actually have a very poor chance of survival. They are old enough to know that humans are not their parents and often resist being hand fed, yet they haven’t learned to feed themselves. Force feeding places them under additional stress. If removed, parents may move other siblings on meaning even if returned to the same area the fledgling will be abandoned.

If uninjured, the best thing to do is leave these baby birds where they are. Stranded fledglings can be moved to a safer location nearby such as a nearby low tree limb or herding it to a safer area such as shrubbery. This is generally all the “rescuing” it needs. They can be easy prey for cats and dogs if they wander into a backyard, so if noticed in this situation restraining pets until the fledgling can retreat on its own or moving to a safe area close by is appropriate. If unsure what to do, it is best to call for advice before interfering with any young birds.