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Helping our feathered friends

At springtime or during high winds we often see increasing numbers of wildlife, especially baby birds, in our vet clinic.

This page offers information and advice that will improve the outcome for baby birds and relieve the workload of your local vet and charities at these busy times.

If the baby bird is a "fledgling" with a few adult feathers, it may still be learning to fly. It is not uncommon to see these birds flapping around on the ground as they develop their flying skills. They will usually still be cared for by the parents, and the process of learning to fly can take up to 2 weeks.

Only if the bird appears to be injured, extremely distressed or in danger will it need to be taken to the vet. Otherwise, the best place for this young animal is always with its parents in the natural environment. A bird that has been raised by its own parents will have a much greater chance of survival over one that has been hand raised by humans.

What to do if you find a baby bird?

The best thing to do is place the baby bird back in the original nest. Then observe from a safe distance to see if the baby bird stays there and if the parents return. (The parent birds will probably not return if you are standing too close to the tree).

  • If you can’t place the baby bird back in the original nest, particularly if it is up quite high, then you can make a nest replica. A variety of containers can be used, for example an empty ice cream container, take away food containers or even a small bucket. Make a few small drainage holes in the bottom in case it rains. Then place a few leaves or soft bark in the bottom as nesting material for warmth and support.

  • Place the replica nest as high up the tree as possible and attach it safely with some rope or cable ties. Ideally the replica nest should be placed in the same tree as the original nest (or very close nearby) to ensure the parents will return for their youngster. Don’t worry; the parents will not reject the baby bird if it has "human" smell on it.

  • If the above steps are not possible, or if you think the baby bird is in danger (for example there is a cat around), then you may need the help of experienced wildlife carers. Sydney has two wildlife volunteer groups that you can contact:

    • Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service

    • W.I.R.E.S

  • Whilst you are waiting for your wildlife carer, you can protect the baby bird with a few simple methods. Place the baby bird somewhere warm, dark, and quite. A small cardboard box can be a good option for the short term. Remember birds are quite fragile and can die of stress if too many people or children handle them. Do not attempt to feed them or offer them any water.

If you have tried the above steps without success or if you think the baby bird may be injured, then please contact us.

If the bird is not a native species of bird, it is classed as a pest and would have to be euthanased, as it is illegal to release them back into the wild. All native birds are protected and, unless you have a licence to do so, it is illegal to keep them as pets.

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