Conservation and animal welfare organisations have issued a reminder to leave young birds alone. June is the peak month for chicks to make their first forays from the nest, and many songbirds spend their first hours on the ground. Nestlings that are not fully-feathered may have fallen, and if you can find the nest nearby (checking that the chick looks like the others in the nest), you can attempt to return the chick to its home. However, in most cases, youngsters have feathers and are being fed, or cajoled into flight, by the parents. These should only be moved if they are in danger, such as from road traffic or cats, and then only a short distance to safety, so that mum and dad can still hear their calls.
Phoning an animal welfare charity or vet should be a last resort (they are overstretched at this time of year). Only put it in a box and remove it if the bird is clearly injured, and then seek professional advice. Abandonment by parent birds is rare, as the bond to their chicks is very strong. The useful flowchart above was produced by the RSPB, who have more advice on their website.
Most songbirds make their maiden flight early in the day, and it has been assumed that this increases the chance of survival, perhaps by maximising the number of daylight hours in which to feed on their first day. However, a recent study of Blue Tits by scientists at Oxford University and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany found no evidence for that hypothesis. They suggest that young birds fledge when they reach a certain point in their development, and since that moment will occur for some birds during the night, a greater proportion leave the nest in the first few hours after sunrise simply because the time is right.
The influx of Rose-coloured Starlings has continued, with pink-and-black adults at Valley and Tregele on Anglesey, but birds on Bardsey and at Morfa Nefyn last week have moved on. Three Roseate Terns are at Cemlyn lagoon, where wardens from North Wales Wildlife Trust report Sandwich Tern chicks are hatching. A Quail was found dead near Bryngwran earlier in the month. Farther afield, Britain’s first Sulphur-bellied Warbler was identified, on Lundy in the Bristol Channel and an Egyptian Vulture is on the Isles of Scilly, more than 150 years since the last accepted record in Britain.
A new national avifauna, The Birds of Wales, will be published in July. Liverpool University Press is accepting pre-orders for £25 (plus p&p), which is £20 below the published price. Click here for details and to order, using the code WALES50 to get the discount. Offer is valid until 30 June.