Finding a young bird on the ground
Some birds such as chickens and ducks are relatively well developed and mobile at hatching. However most of the wild birds around our clinic hatch in a very underdeveloped form and are raised in a nest. At several weeks of age these birds leave the nest. On leaving the nest they are not, however, ‘instant adults’. They can only walk and fly weakly and are supported by their parents in the nest vicinity. At this stage they are very vulnerable to cats, dogs, cars and unfortunately people. Some well meaning people mistakenly ‘rescue’ these chicks when in fact this stage of steadily becoming stronger around the nest is quite normal. Catching and removing these chicks from their parents care gives them an almost zero chance of survival in the wild. Certainly such chicks can be taken into captivity and hand reared (legally only by registered wildlife carers) but when released as mature birds usually die unfortunately for a variety of reasons, essentially because they have no survival skills. It’s a bit like keeping a child inside at home until he is 18 and then taking him into the city and telling him to get a job, cook for himself, and find his way home. Young birds must spend time with their parents to learn all of the lessons and survival skills that they will need as adult birds to survive ie what is food, how to find it, what is danger, where are the safe trees to sleep at night and even how to interact with other birds of the same species. If you find a young bird on the ground that cannot fly, leave it where it is. If however you think that it is in danger then the chick can be placed back in the nest or if this is not possible on a branch in a safer location nearby. Nearby dogs and cats should be confined until the chick can fly sufficiently.