What should I do with a nestling I found?
July 30, 2008 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My mum rescued this young bird from my cat last night. There was no sign of any nest or of its parents. We put it in a box outside with some bedding, not expecting it to last the night, but it was still alive this morning. I've been feeding it soaked shelled hemp seeds every hour or so, which it seems to like, but have no idea what species it is or what to do with it now.

If it isn't visible from the photo, it has some adult feathers, but it isn't yet feeding by itself, and it hasn't tried to leave the box (which has a hole at the base). Its wings have a striped black and grey pattern, with some mustard areas. It doesn't appear injured or in distress, but I wouldn't know how to tell if it were.

I'm aware that it's illegal to rear wild birds in the US, but I believe the law is different here. My parents are understandably concerned that it doesn't become tame and impossible to release. Is there anywhere near Bury in Lancashire (UK) that will take it in?
posted by topynate to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Apparently it's a fledgling, not a nestling. Is the correct course of action to leave it alone on the ground and see if it's parent(s) return?
posted by topynate at 9:39 AM on July 30, 2008

It looks like the RSPB want you to contact the RSPCA.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 9:47 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

A google turned up this :

Kirklees Valley
Garside Hay Road
01204 884086
Sanctuary and rescue centre for sick, injured and baby birds.

More places listed on the link, in case this is not in your area. I've found the survival rate of these birds to go way up in the hands of skilled rescue workers.
posted by jamaro at 9:50 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

It looks a lot like a house sparrow to me, or just possibly a tree sparrow, probably male.
Their main diet is cereals, berries, kitchen scraps. You could try it with tiny pieces of lard or uncooked fat from beef or pork if you have any lying about. Otherwise carry on with what you're doing; the soaked seed will probably provide sufficient water for a while.

Avoid touching the bird at all, keep it somewhere dark and quiet, and call the RSPCA 24-hour Cruelty and Advice line on 0300 1234 999.

And it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to take a wild bird into captivity, with a few exceptions, such as when the intention is to temporarily care for a sick or injured bird until the bird is fit for release. But that's probably not a problem if you've rescued it from a cat.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2008

Oh, they eat insects too. A bit of earthworm or a few aphids might go down well.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2008

Thanks to my animal loving wife we have saved MANY fallen birds (and chicks) in the US. Try calling a zoo, they won't take the bird but they should be able to tell you local places that will. They will all be non-profits so you may want to give them some $ to help feed your bird.
posted by doorsfan at 11:03 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Please do not feed it, it is not a good idea. Find a wildlife rehabilitator.
posted by kldickson at 11:25 AM on July 30, 2008

Contact RSPCA ASAP or you will have a dead or pet bird on your hands.

Small birds have a high mortality rate and young birds like this still have a lot of learning to do in a very short period of time, it will be ready to fly in a week or so and if it can't be trained to fend for itself it will become an easy target for any number of predators.

Of course if it does survive there are worse things than having a bird that thinks you are it's parent!
posted by plainjs at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2008

Thanks all. I'm keeping it overnight until the wildlife places open in the morning. It looks like it'll do OK until then. It's eaten a few small grubs and suchlike.
posted by topynate at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2008

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