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Think twice about ‘saving’ a young bird

Ornithologists are advising people to carefully consider whether their help is needed for young birds that appear to be abandoned. Often in late spring, especially in May, young birds may not be able to fly perfectly yet and humans sometimes think the birds are abandoned or injured and need to be helped. But an expert says making such rescue efforts are not always prudent or necessary.

Ornithologists are advising people to carefully consider whether their help is needed for young birds that appear to be abandoned. Often in late spring, especially in May, young birds may not be able to fly perfectly yet and humans sometimes think the birds are abandoned or injured and need to be helped. But an expert says making such rescue efforts are not always prudent or necessary.

“After leaving their nests, young birds often cannot fly perfectly and they tend to dwell near the nest together with their parents who feed them and teach them how to search for food and survive outside the nest. They make a clumsy and deserted impression,” Ján Gúgh of the Slovak birding organisation, BirdLife Slovensko, explained to the SITA newswire. He reported that ornithologists often see incidences of humans unnecessarily ‘saving’ birds, which takes them from their natural habitat shortly before they have become independent and self-reliant.

“Most often, these young birds are finches, blackbirds, sparrows, or even owls – the Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus),” Gúgh stated. The owls are a special case because offspring from this species tend to leave their nests even before growing feathers, thus increasing their chances for survival. They indicate their location to their parents and express hunger by squeaking and their parents are usually able to locate them and feed them.

It sometimes happens that a young bird falls out of its nest due to strong winds or a storm and Gúgh advises that in these cases it is sufficient to put the offspring next to the tree and watch if it is in good condition. It is not recommended to remove the young bird from the area of its parents and its natural habitat unless the young bird is injured. “We have had cases in which young owls were taken to live in captivity but later died because of a bad diet,” Gúgh said.

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