In 2018, the RSPCA received 9,163 reports from members of the public concerned about lone young birds they had spotted away from the nest.  

Most of the calls (7,839) related to fledglings (older baby birds that are starting to fly). The charity advises that these can generally be left to be cared for by their parents. 

Since 2014, there has been an 80% rise in the number of fledglings that have been brought into the RSPCA’s centres.

The remaining 1,324 calls about young birds related to nestlings - the very young baby birds - who will not survive out of the nest.  It is these that are more likely to need help.

In simple terms, nestlings have no feathers or very few.  But most fledglings have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly. Unlike nestlings they can also perch, hop and walk.

During the annual baby bird boom at this time of year, the RSPCA’s wildlife centres care for over a thousand 'orphaned' fledglings each year, picked up by well-meaning people.

But many of these birds are not orphans and are often better off if they are left in the wild.

The animal charity has produced a useful printable step-by-step guide available here explaining the types of situations where the babies of common garden birds might genuinely need helping, and when the young bird is purely exhibiting natural behaviour as part of its development, in which case it is usually better to leave well alone.