Birds make up a large percentage of our total annual casualty intake and a high percentage of these are nestling and fledgling birds picked up because they are mistakenly thought to be ‘orphaned’ or they have been caught by a cat.
When many garden birds first fledge from their nests they spend the next few days hopping about on the ground and in low bushes and shrubs, exercising their wings to build up the muscles needed for flight. During this time they are still regularly fed by the parent birds, but if anyone is close by, the adult bird will stay away and not feed the young. In these circumstances the young bird should be left, unless it is in imminent danger, from a cat for example, and should be watched from a discreet distance to ascertain whether or not it is being fed.
If a bird is caught by a cat, it is vital that it receives antibiotics within hours, even if it has no obvious injuries, as it is very likely to get septicaemia (blood poisoning) because of the large amount of bacteria carried in cats mouths.
If the bird is genuinely abandoned or orphaned, put it in a cat carrier or appropriate sizes box lined with preferably a towel rather than newspaper or it could slide during travel which could result in more injury to the bird. It’s best not to attempt to feed it until you have positively identified it. Baby birds often don’t look much like their adult counterparts and as different species have very different diets, you may feed it a totally unsuitable food, which could be fatal. The sooner the youngster is put with others of its own kind the better, so please take it to your nearest wildlife rescue centre or veterinary practice as soon as possible as it may need feeding as often as every 15 minutes. Under no circumstances should you try to give the bird any liquid as it is very easy for it to go down into the lungs of a baby bird which could easily kill it.