People are unaware of the difference between fledgling and nestling birds and as a result thousands of unnecessary calls are being made to the RSPCA .

The RSPCA want to educate people on how to distinguish the two, after it received 1,343 calls last year from people across the South East of England about baby birds being found away from their nest.

The animal welfare charity received 1,137 calls about abandoned fledglings and just 206 calls about abandoned nestlings.

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The difference between the two stages are that a nestling is younger and has no feathers or very few, whereas fledglings are older, have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly.

Unlike nestlings, which are more likely to need help, they can also perch, hop and walk.

Oxford Mail:

Evie Button, RSPCA’s scientific officer said: “It’s wonderful that people want to do the best for our wildlife but sometimes it’s difficult to know when to intervene and when to hold back.

“If a fledgling is seen away from the nest, it should be left alone and watched from a distance for up to two hours to ensure the parents are returning. It is likely the parents are nearby and will still be feeding the bird.”

Last year, there were 17 calls made from people in Oxfordshire about abandoned nestlings which is the second lowest amount, while there were 59 calls received about abandoned fledglings.

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The RSPCA is now encouraging people to not bring fledgling birds into its centres as they are better left in the wild and it wants to ensure that only those that really need help are brought in.

Fledglings should only need assistance if it is injured, has been attacked, appears to be orphaned or separated from their parents.

But if anyone spots a nestling, they should be taken to a vet, a local rescue or call the RSPCA as they will not survive long outside the protection of their nest.

Oxford Mail:

Ms Button added: “We also provide advice on how to safely catch, handle and care for the nestling until it can be taken to an expert. If a fledgling is in immediate danger, it should be placed in a sheltered spot a short distance away.”

People are also advised never to try to return a bird to the nest as this may disturb the other young birds and may be illegal.

In the South East, out of the 9,163 calls that were received last year, only 1,324 of them were related to nestlings while the rest were realted to fledglings.

Concerns about animals can be reported via the RSPCA’s hotline on 0300 1234 999.