A HECTIC bird breeding season is expected by the RSPCA this spring, as figures reveal almost 9,000 calls were made about orphaned, sick and injured baby birds last year.
The national charity has launched new baby bird advice as the latest data showed an average of five calls were made an hour from worried public at peak times this included 55 from Warwickshire residents, over 70 from those in neighboring Worcestershire and over 370 from West Midlanders – the third highest number after London.
The majority of calls came in during the peak months of May, June and July from animal lovers reporting young wild birds in trouble.
Around one third related to orphaned birds and another 3,252 were about sick and injured birds. The majority were about fledglings – older baby birds that are starting to fly – which the RSPCA advises can generally be left to be cared for by their parents. The charity also received nearly 1,500 calls about nestlings – the very young baby birds – who will not survive out of the nest. Nestlings are highly vulnerable and more likely to need help.
RSPCA’s scientific officer Evie Button said: “Our wildlife centres are now on high alert as the baby bird season kicks off. As well as handling thousands of calls – around 9,000 – last year, more than 5,400 orphaned, injured or sick young birds were brought into our four specialist centres. That’s a lot of round-the-clock hand-feeding, monitoring and rehabilitation of all types of young birds, from cygnets, sparrows and swallows to guillemots, goshawks and gulls!
“It’s wonderful that people want to do the best for our wildlife, but sometimes it’s difficult to know when to intervene and when to hold back. It is really important to ensure it is only those that really need help that are brought in, and in most cases, the best thing you can do for them is to help them stay in the wild using methods like re-nesting. If in doubt, our new, downloadable guides – one for fledglings and one for nestlings – are full of advice and can help to identify whether the young bird is a fledgling – which unless sick or injured, is likely to survive outside the nest without human intervention – or a younger, more vulnerable nestling, which will probably need extra help.”
In 2020, the RSPCA’s wildlife centres cared for nearly 3,000 ‘orphaned’ birds, picked up by well-meaning people. But many of these birds were not actually orphans and may have been better off left in the wild.
Unlike fledglings, if a nestling is spotted outside their nest, they need assistance. The charity’s new downloadable guidance provides options on what to do depending on the circumstances. Actions may include creating a man-made nest, taking the nestling to a vet or local rescue centre, or calling the RSPCA.
Its website also provides information for species which may need different types of help, such as gull chicks, bird of prey chicks and ducklings, goslings and cygnets.
Visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/orphanedanimals/babybirds to view the advice.