Express Delivery

To most UK postcodes

Secure Shopping

PCI Compliant


Add Bird Sighting

Exceptional Service

Over 50K Happy Customers

The Fledgling Guide

The Fledgling Guide

When we see baby birds, it’s most commonly a fledgling as they’re slightly more grown, more independent, and require less help. They’re the opposite of nestling birds, which require help if they’re found outside of their nest, as it’s best to monitor them from afar.

It’s a normal aspect of their development for fledglings to be unable to take flight for a short while so don’t worry – not unless you can physically see that it’s injured or ill.

Every nesting season, many animal centres – wildlife and clinics – are often brought several fledglings by people who just wanted to help but don’t know much about birds. So fledglings are unnecessarily removed by well-meaning people from the wild. It’s important to really consider if the bird is a nestling or a fledging before any actions are taken.

What is a ‘Fledgling’ Bird?

The next step after nestling is fledgling. This is when a bird leaves the nest for the first time and will instead take cover on branches or just stay on the ground. It’s the first part of birds’ growth toward independence.

However, it’s still a very vulnerable stage and the survival rate for them drops massively without having immediate protection in the nest. That’s why it’s very typical for the parent birds to stay close by and continue feeding their babies throughout the days.

a blue tit feeding its fledgling bird

Most fledglings can either fly for a very short time or not fly at all in the beginning, but they can hop and walk around so they’re still mobile. As they are no longer nestlings, it also means they’ve had time to grow into some of their feathers. Rather than having bald spots, fledglings are fully feathered. See this photo guide for examples.

When Does a Fledgling Need Help?

Fledgling birds are learning to be independent so the typical advice is to leave them alone. If you see them out of the nest, it’s natural – they no longer need to stay in the nest. So if you were to find one and put it back in it’s nest, the chances are it will just hop back out.

However, they doesn’t mean that they never need any help. As birds are known prey to predators like cats, if they have been caught by one or injured they will likely need urgent help.

It is also okay to remove them from an area if the environment seems risky and they’re exposed to many predators and place them somewhere safer. Low branches on trees or somewhere with plenty of shrub coverage is the most ideal. But it can’t be moved too far away as a fledgling’s parents remain close by to it.

How Long Do Birds Look After Their Fledglings?

Commitment to looking after their fledglings can vary between birds. Garden birds, at least the majority of them, usually stick around and feed their young for about two and half weeks before they leave them alone.

Whereas Starling fledglings are left alone after just a matter of days.

Can A Fledgling Survive Without Mother?

When baby birds are old enough to be considered fledglings, they are old enough to survive on their own. Unlike nestlings, they are full feathered so they have enough to stay warm on days where the temperatures are cooler.

This is quite a significant factor because without mother, a father will still continue providing food but won’t do much in terms of providing warmth.

Without both mother and father, however, those chances of survival start to decrease until they’re very slim. If there are other fledglings, from an earlier brood of the same parents, they can make sure the babies are staying warm and have a food source.

Otherwise, the survival rate is very low, sitting at just 30% - 40%, mostly due to predators.

What Should I Feed A Fledgling?

When the fledgling birds are no longer receiving food from their parents, it’s okay to leave food out for them.

Baby birds need plenty of energy in order to develop properly as they grow. Therefore most of their diets are heavily consisting of insects. You can also leave fruits and vegetables for them, though. See our guides what do baby birds eat and is bird food a choking risk to fledglings.

Birdseed and very small, fine nuts are good supplements for baby birds, too. Take a look at what Kennedy Wild Bird Food can supply here.

Other Things You Need To Know

If you spot fledgling birds in your garden, you should avoid letting your pet outdoors (if you have any) for at least 1 – 5 days. This ensures that the fledglings are given an appropriate time to be safe while learning to fly. It also gives them a higher chance of survival.

Healthy animals cannot be removed from the wild so don’t expect a wildlife centre to offer to move them for you.

Should you need to handle a fledgling bird at all, make it a delicate yet quick affair. Too much handling can send the birds into a fatal state of shock which is why you should only intervene if it’s absolutely necessary.

Kennedy Wild Bird Foods are dedicated to total customer satisfaction so if you have any suggestions or comments for us, please get in touch by sending an email to

Alternatively, call us on 01778 342 665 if you have any questions for us.

5th Jul 2023 Rachel Weinhold

Explore Popular Articles

Our Customers Love Us


Discounts, Specials & News Updates Delivered to Your Inbox.