Birds make up a large percentage of our total annual casualty intake and a high proportion of these are nestling and fledgling garden birds that have either been caught by a cat or picked up because they are mistakenly thought to be ‘orphaned’.

Many garden birds, when they first fledge from their nests, spend the next few days hopping about on the ground and in low bushes and shrubs, exercising their wings to build up the muscles needed for flight. During this time they are still regularly fed by the parent birds, but if anyone is close by, the adult bird will stay away. In these circumstances the young bird should be left, unless it is in imminent danger, from a cat for example, and should be watched from a discreet distance to ascertain whether or not it is being fed.

If a bird is caught by a cat, it is vital that it receives antibiotics within hours, even if it has no obvious injuries, as it is very likely to get septicaemia (blood poisoning) because of the massive amounts of bacteria carried in cats mouths.

If the bird is genuinely abandoned or orphaned, it is best not to attempt to feed it until you have positively identified it. Baby birds often don’t look much like their adult counterparts and as different species have very different diets, you may feed it a totally unsuitable food, which could be fatal. The sooner the youngster is put with others of its own kind the better, so please take it to your nearest wildlife rescue centre as soon as possible as it may need feeding as often as every 15 minutes. Under no circumstances should you try to give the bird any liquid as it is very easy for it to go down into the lungs of a baby bird which could easily kill it.

Young owls, especially tawny owls, are often found at the base of a tree looking sorry for themselves. When they first leave the nest, before they can fly, they will sit on a branch outside the nest (known as branching) until they are ready to fly. Sometimes they can fall from the branch and end up on the ground, but they are perfectly capable of climbing back up the tree to the nest site and should be left alone unless they are very young or are in danger. Ring us on 01386 882288 for advice.

When we are busy, we would appreciate it if you can get your casualty to us. We have so many youngsters to care for & feed at the Hospital that we cannot spare staff for collecting small casualties. Maybe a friend or a neighbour can help you out. If you really cannot get it to us then we will do our best to help.

For the past few years we have used the following mixture for hand-rearing baby birds such as blackbirds, thrushes, robins, tits, finches and starlings. The results so far have been amazing: 50gms raw, lean minced beef 25gms Kaytee Exact 13gms ground sunflower hearts 90mls Lectade Pinch of vitamin/mineral supplement All this is liquidised for 5-10 seconds and is fed using tweezers, dipping into Lectade before feeding. Refrigerate between feeds and throw away any unused mixture after 24 hours.

Thanks to Lorraine from Baby Beaks Garden Bird Rescue for suggesting this mix.