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What to do with chicks that are found outside of a nest?
Author: Slovenian Bird Watching and Research Society (DOPPS – Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije)
Spring is slowly ending and summer is on its way, even though the weather is still fairly April-like. For numerous birds this is the time when the first chicks leave the safe haven of the nest and set off into the wide world. It doesn’t always go to plan, however, and many chicks find themselves in trouble. Sometimes we can help them, however, most often it is best to leave them to their caring parents.
Smaller songbirds, such as the great tit, sparrow, blackbird or starling, make their nests where the female lays a number of eggs. Chicks hatch after approximately two weeks of hatching, and their parents care for them for about three weeks. It is often the case that due to the large number of offspring, nests become too small and the chicks venture out of the nest a day or two early. When finding chicks out of a nest, we are always confronted with a dilemma of whether or not to help them.
In most cases the answer to the dilemma is ‘NO’. The chick’s parents are close by and will also look after them outside the nest. However, how can we recognise the signs that chicks need our help?
We should help chicks when they are visibly injured or when we suspect that their parents have abandoned them. This can be concluded with great certainty when chicks are not visited by their parents for more than an hour. If the chicks are exposed to any danger (cats, dogs, traffic…) but their parents are close, they can be moved to the shelter of a bush or tree or returned to the nest if found and if it is accessible (at the same time be sure to take care of your own safety).
Should you find an injured or abandoned chick you should contact a designated facility. In Slovenia this is the Wildlife Refuge (Zatočišče za živali prosto živečih vrst), Glavni trg 7, 2366 Muta (tel: 02 876 12 85 or 041 518 939).
Do not feed or care for birds for an extended period.
Additional information can be obtained from the Institute for Poultry, Birds, Small Mammals and Reptiles of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (tel: 01 4779 251).
Source: DOPPS – Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije
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