Who should I call if I am concerned about a bird?

With lots of different wildlife organisations out there it can be confusing to know who to contact. Calling the wrong organisation can delay an animal receiving the correct help. Therefore, we have created the following information to guide you.

A lone juvenile Guillemot sat on a beach looking weak and possibly injured.
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Is the RSPB the right organisation to contact?

In short, we’re not the right people to get in touch with. The RSPB is a conservation charity, and we don’t have the expertise or facilities to rescue birds or to provide advice or help with the welfare of individual wild animals or pets. We also don’t have access to any non-public databases of wildlife or pet rescues. 

Our area of expertise is protecting habitats, preserving and recovering species populations, connecting people to nature and helping fight the nature and climate emergency. 

There are other organisations and charities which are much better suited to helping in different ways. See below. 

Mistle Thrush feeding fledgling on the ground

Baby garden birds

Nestlings (baby birds without feathers) should not be out of the nest and will need help. Where possible they should be returned to their nest (make sure it’s the right one!), you can find further advice on the RSPCA website here.

But, if you ever find a garden bird fledgling (fully feathered baby bird) on the ground, if they’re not sick or injured they’re usually best left alone.

They intentionally leave the nest before they can fly, and their parents are usually nearby and still caring for them. Parents may even be waiting for people to leave before they return to their young. It’s normal for fledglings to be on the ground between a few days to a week or so whilst they finish growing their flight feathers.

During this time, please keep people and pets away, and leave the fledgling undisturbed and in the care of their parents. Remember that birds take far better care of their young than humans can. Taking baby birds into captivity can dramatically reduce their chances of long-term survival. 

If they’re in a position of danger, fledglings can be moved to a nearby sheltered, safe place such as under a hedge. They still need to be within hearing range of where they were found, as parents often use calls to locate their young. Watch the fledglings from a distance until you have seen the parents find them. 

Exceptions to the rule

Whilst this is the general rule for garden birds, it’s important to be aware that it doesn’t apply to all species of birds. For example, feathered Swift chicks/nestlings are often confused for garden bird fledglings but should not be out of the nest and if they are on the ground will need help. Please see the next section for advice on what to do for some commonly encountered species which are exceptions to the rule.

Other species of baby wild birds

You can find advice covering when and how to help these species of baby birds on the RSPCA’s website:

A Swift lying on kitchen towel.

Who to contact if a wild animal needs help

It can be incredibly stressful for wild animals to be taken into captivity and in some circumstances, it may be in their best interest to leave them be. So, if you’re worried about an animal and you’re unsure what to do, we’d recommend contacting a wildlife rescue for advice before taking any action.

Local wildlife rescues

It’s often in the best interest of the animal to find help locally. This can be quicker and reduce the need for transportation which is stressful for wildlife. The RSPCA website details the best way to find local wildlife rescues here. This includes searching your address on directories such as www.helpwildlife.co.uk

Other organisations which may be able to help for certain species: 

A lone Hedgehog sat on top of a moss covered log.

Local vets

All vets should provide emergency first aid treatment to wildlife free of charge. Some vets may limit access to their buildings due to avian flu but should still be able to see birds outside. If the vet decides that the animal requires additional longer-term care in the form of rehabilitation, the animal can be transported to a local wildlife rescue.

  • You can search for a local vet here.


If you cannot find help locally, or for more difficult cases such as those involving trapped wildlife or larger animals which may be difficult or dangerous for the public to handle, you can contact these national animal rescues for advice and to see if they can help:

  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999 (England and Wales)
  • SSPCA: 03000 999 999 (Scotland)
  • USPCA: 028 3025 1000 (Northern Ireland)
A Common Seal, resting on the muddy shore at Saltholme reserve in winter

Oil spills and oiled birds

For oil spills you need to contact different organisations depending on where it is.

For coastal incidents:

  • Report to the Coastguard, local numbers can be found here.

For inland incidents:

If there are live oiled birds, please also report to:

  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999 (England and Wales)
  • SSPCA: 03000 999 999 (Scotland)
  • USPCA: 028 3025 1000 (Northern Ireland)

Oil is particularly toxic to a bird if ingested, which easily happens when they try to preen off the oil. Please do not attempt to clean birds yourself, it requires specialist equipment and expertise.

Animals on roads

If you’re concerned about a live animal on the road, here is who to contact:

For motorways or major 'A' roads:

  • Highways England: 0300 123 5000
  • Traffic Wales: 0845 602 6020
  • Traffic Scotland: 0800 028 1414
  • DfI Roads Northern Ireland: 0300 200 7899

These agencies can make arrangements to safely remove animals, including slowing down traffic and closing roads where necessary.

For minor roads:

  • Please report to your local Police on 101

If the animal is injured, please also report to:

  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999 (England and Wales)
  • SSPCA: 03000 999 999 (Scotland)
  • USPCA: 028 3025 1000 (Northern Ireland)

For dead animals on roads:

  • Advice on reporting can be found on the Government website here.
Swan crossing a road surrounded by trees

Which organisation should I contact about pets, captive and domestic birds?

The RSPB does not have the expertise to help with pet bird matters. Here is who you can contact:

Concerned about the way a pet or other captive bird is being treated? You can contact these national animal rescues for advice:

  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999 (England and Wales)
  • SSPCA: 03000 999 999 (Scotland)
  • USPCA: 028 3025 1000 (Northern Ireland)

Found a racing or fancy pigeon with a ring?

  • Advice and details of where to report the bird can be found on the Pigeon Association website here. 

Lost or found a falconry bird?

Lost or found a pet bird? 

Concerns about your own pet bird?

  • Search for vets which can treat pet birds here.

Pet parrots

These organisations may be able to help with husbandry advice, rehoming and rescue queries:

A Peregrine Falcon sits atop a wall.

Prevent window collisions

Flying into windows is a common problem, which can easily be solved with window stickers. Have a look at the RSPB shop for examples.

RSPB shop

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