If you are out bird watching in the spring and summer you may find a young bird sitting on the ground or hopping about without any sign of its parents. This is perfectly normal as the parents are probably away collecting food or they be watching from nearby.
Most garden birds fledge when they are fully feathered but before they are able to fly and will spend a couple of days on the ground before their feather development is complete.
If you find a fledgling the best thing to do is to leave it where it is. Make sure predators, such as cats, are kept away from a bird when it is this vulnerable. You may want to invest in a cat deterrent.
If the bird is on a busy path or other exposed location pick the bird up gently and move it a short distance to a safer place. Make sure the bird remains within hearing distance of where you found it so its parents can easily find it again.
Handling a young bird will not cause its parents to abandon it as birds have a poor sense of smell and will not sense human smell in the same way that mammals do.
Do not move a fledging from the wild as it needs to be in the care of its parents and its chances of long-term survival will be drastically cut. You should only do this as a last resort if the bird is visibly injured and there is no sign of its parents.
If the young bird has no feathers or is covered in fluffy down and appears to have fallen out of its nest then you may be able to carefully replace it. If this can’t be done and you think the chick will be dependent on humans for survival then it should be passed to an expert who can help rehabilitate it.
Read our section on helping sick and injured birds for information on what to do if you find one.