Nesting and Fledgling Birds

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Breeding season for Brisbane’s native birds is normally between July and December. Parents are anxious during this time as their offspring are growing and learning to fly.

During this time it is common for well-intentioned people to rescue birds that are believed to be injured, which can increase the stress of the fledglings and birds parents. This can encourage birds to become aggressive and protective of their nesting area and may lead to swooping behaviour.

Find out more information on swooping birds.

Normal baby bird behaviour

Most birds will stay in the nest after hatching from late August to early October. Once the birds have grown some adult feathers around the wings, they are at the stage where they can learn to fly. Fledglings can take up to two weeks to learn how to fly, and may be dependent on their parents for food for up to a year. While fledglings are learning to fly it is critical that they stay with their parents so they can defend them from potential threats. Although these birds look like they are in trouble as they spend lots of time on the ground hopping and flapping their wings, this is normal behaviour as the young are preparing to leave the nest and care for themselves.

Check for signs of normal behaviour before interfering. It is most likely that the bird is not injured so it is best to leave it alone. The parents will be nearby and will feed the fledgling within a few hours.

Normal fledgling characteristics and behaviour includes:

  • flight feathers present around the wings
  • making bird calls (making lots of noise)
  • it is bright and responsive
  • it is spreading it’s wings a lot and flapping
  • hopping on the ground
  • can perch on a branch.

Note: Brush turkey chicks are not lost or orphaned. It is normal behaviour for them to be alone as they are not cared for after hatching. Hence, they should be left alone unless they ae clearly injured or in immediate danger.

Tips to help baby bird survival

If you are concerned about a baby bird and want to help you should:

  • leave it alone unless it is in danger
  • do not give it any food or water
  • if possible, safely remove pets and other threats from the area
  • if the bird is in a dangerous location, gently move the fledgling to a location under a small bush or onto a low-hanging branch (the parents will not reject the fledgling if it has had human contact)
  • if you cannot locate the nest or safely relocate it, you can make a baby bird basket/ artificial nest.

How to build a baby bird basket

Constructing a baby bird basket for birds without a nest can be achieve by: 

  1. Find an old bucket, plant pot or plastic container and punch several holes on the underside.
  2. Place a layer of leaves or grass at the bottom of the container for comfortable and warm bedding.
  3. Place a stick in the container at an angle and support it by using one of the holes. This provides a ledge for the parents to rest on.
  4. Place baby bird inside the container.
  5. Hang up basket close to where baby bird was found, in a tree or bush out of direct sunlight and away from predators.
  6. Keep an eye on the young bird (from a distance) and make sure that the parents return before dark.

If the parents do not return to the baby in 24 hours, contact the RSPCA, your local vet or wildlife carer for assistance.

Last updated:24 February 2020
Topics: wildlife