Submitted by Steve on 18:48, 20th May, 2020 | 0

As a general rule, it is best to leave baby birds alone.

A baby bird has a greater chance of survival in the wild than it has being hand-reared by man as they learn to fend for themselves and how to forage for food by their parents.

In recent days, the GSPCA has had reports of concerns that gardeners and builders are disturbing nesting sites of birds and possible other species, as they try to resume work. It is extremely important to note that this is in conflict with the Guernsey Animal Welfare Ordinance 2012 and any reports are looked into by the GSPCA Animal Welfare team and concerns are passed on to the authorities.

Around 2 weeks after hatching, young birds in your Bailiwick garden usually leave the nest just before they learn how to fly.

It is about this time that you find a young bird out of its nest, as it is probably a fledgling. Fledglings are almost fully feathered, able to walk, run and hop on to low branches, and will try to hide in undergrowth where they are fed by their parents. Parent birds are not usually far away and are probably collecting food but will not return until you have gone. Within a day of leaving the nest, fledglings can usually fly enough to keep up with their parents and escape predators.

Please remember to only move them, or encourage them to move, a short distance to safety if they are in immediate danger.

If you have picked up a fledgling, put it back as near as possible to the place you found it. Don't try to return a fledgling to its nest as you may disturb other young birds.

If you are concerned about its safety, try to put it nearby on a ledge, or somewhere it will be out of the reach of cats.   You may want to use an ice cream container with kitchen towel in and place it in a tree or ledge.

Monitor the situation from a place where you will not been seen or heard as otherwise you may continue to discourage the return of the parents.  Do this for at least two hours. You will almost certainly find that the parents have taken care of their youngster within this time.

If, after monitoring, you think a fledgling is genuinely orphaned or sick please call the GSPCA on 01481 257261 and choose the emergency option so we can discuss options of either sending an ambulance out or how you can visit the Animal Shelter safely with our coronavirus precautions.

At the GSPCA, we have hospital cages and intensive care units set up ready for those rescued and we currently have dozens in our care being hand reared. Please do not try and care for these birds yourself. If you need further help and advice, again please call us on 01481 257261.

Nestlings are baby birds that only have a small number of feathers. They are different from fledglings in that they are totally dependent on the security of the nest and will not fare at all well if left. If a nestling is found, contain it as soon as possible in a warm, dark, well-ventilated cardboard box (do not offer water, milk or food as this could make them ill or if done incorrectly worse). If the bird is sick, take it to your nearest veterinary surgeon or to the Animal Shelter but call them, or us on 01481 257261, first to ensure you follow coronavirus procedures.

Never try to return nestlings to their nests as this may disturb the other babies. Never try to rear nestlings yourself, as they need specialist care if they are to survive and the staff at the GSPCA have years of experience and training.

Please remember - handling any animal, either domestic, wild, dead or alive, may be potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues. The GSPCA advise common sense should be applied in all instances and if unsure please call 01481 257261. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal whether it is domestic, wild, dead or alive. Wash your hands regularly, as we should all being already be doing under the COVID-19 guidelines. 

Grace Hodgkinson, Deputy States Vet, said: “If you are gardening or undertaking some building work and come across nesting birds, please stop the activity immediately. It is advised that you monitor the nest until the birds have fledged. Once they have fledged, it is safe to continue to work. If in doubt, stop the activity completely until August, when hopefully all breeding birds and their offspring should have fledged their nests.”

Beckie Bailey, GSPCA Animal Care Assistant, said “It has been so busy in our hospital department with baby birds being rescued sick and inured.”

“From a kestrel chick to the many great tits, magpie chicks and the black bird chicks we have around 20 or more baby birds in our care on any day.”

“Many are from cat attacks and it is difficult to know where their parents are but for those you see out and about if fledged the best thing you can do is put them up high, keep an eye on them and follow the GSPCA advice.”

“Baby birds are much better off being raised by their parents as they can teach them to look for the food and skills they will need to survive.”

Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager, said “It has been incredibly busy with young birds coming into our care with the lovely weather we have had in Guernsey.”

“With many still in lock down at home carrying out gardening and projects at home and builders and gardeners keen to get back to work it is extremely important that they do not disturb or move nesting birds as this is contrary to the Guernsey Animal Welfare Ordinance 2012.”

“This is such an extremely important time of year for nesting birds, bats, hedgehogs and so many other species and we would urge all islanders to help provide them with the habitat they need and if you need to carry out work then to postpone it until later in the Summer when the breeding season comes to an end.”

“Other than humans disturbing nesting animals the biggest culprit for casualties is cats and other than keeping your cat in the other advice would be t provide your cat with a safety collar which has a bell on it to help the birds get away.”

“In recent weeks there hasn’t been a day gone that hasn’t resulted in sick and injured birds arriving at the GSPCA and some could have been left high and safe for their parents to rear.”

“It is so important that if possible fledglings are raised by their parents as they will help teach them the skills they need for the wild.”

“We do have rehabilitation aviaries at the GSPCA to help teach them the skills they need but there are many items on our Wish list you can donate to help them in our care from mealworms to very much needed Intensive Care Units or why not donate to all the animals in need at the GSPCA through our #GSPCACoronavirusCrisisAppeal via this link calling 01481 257261 or by post.”

“If you want to shop online here is a link to our GSPCA Amazon Wish List but before heading there if you register with Easyfundraising then every purchase we can raise extra donations and to register please visit .”

“To see our Wish List page please visit - .”

“The Wish list has items we really need from Butchers dog food to dust pans and brushes.”

“A huge thanks to all that have supported all of our appeals, we couldn’t do so much without your support.”

Here is the list of some items needed, but until the lock down is lifted we would ask donations (unless very large in which case call us on 01481 257261) to drop off at the collection points at the large Co-ops or Alliance as we are trying to limit the number of visitors to the GSPCA -

  • Butchers (we use loads for the hedgehogs and dogs)
  • Honey for the hedgehogs
  • Senior tinned/pouch cat food or applaws
  • Bird seed of any kind is very helpful
  • Small animal feed and small animal bowls
  • Wood/paper based cat litter or thomas cat litter
  • Fresh fruit and veg the animals love and we use daily - Kale, Parsley, Basil, chard, Cavolo Nero, Cress, coriander, carrots, spinach, raspberries and strawberries
  • Fairy liquid (we use for washing oiled birds)
  • Non-bio washing powder
  • Surgical spirit
  • Cotton wool
  • Nitrile gloves (medium especially)
  • Face masks
  • Pump hand soap
  • Bin bags
  • Hand towel
  • Loo roll
  • Dust pan and brushes
  • Towels
  • Blankets

Steve continued “Another great way to supporting is by donating each month and to find out details please visit this web page .”

“Without your support the GSPCA couldn’t achieve so much caring and helping over 3000 animals every year.”

“If any business would like to support our work in any way from making donations to wish list items we would love to hear from you and please call us or email me [email protected] “

To make a donation by post please make cheques payable to 'GSPCA’ and post to GSPCA, Rue des Truchots, St Andrews, Guernsey, GY6 8UD.

In line with States of Guernsey advice please DO NOT visit the GSPCA if you are over 65, have an underlying health condition or have any symptoms of Coronavirus and only visit us if your visit is essential but before doing so please call us on 01481 257261 or email [email protected] before your trip to the GSPCA to see if we can help without you coming to the Shelter. For the latest information and advice please visit

With huge challenges on our resources and a drop in income from boarding and donations please help us help animals in Guernsey with our #GSPCACoronavirusCrisisAppeal by donating online via -

During these difficult times help us help animals in need. From donating to Sponsoring a Pen, Buying a Brick for the much needed Wildlife Hospital to our Amazon and main page Wish List, holding a mufti day to a sponsored Christmas dip, here are some of the ways you could help give animals joy.

For lots more ideas on how you can support the shelter and the animals in our care then please visit our fundraising page

To see a list of our volunteer induction evenings which we hold each month and for more information please visit or call 257261

To find out more on trips, talks and our education work please email [email protected] or call 01481 257261



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