Baby Gulls

helpwildlife.co.uk provides a directory of around 400 wildlife rescues in the UK who can help with wildlife casualties


 
 
 

Gulls commonly nest on rooftops or elsewhere in towns – this is a result of their natural habitat being destroyed. Their presence isn’t always welcome, but you should be aware that nesting gulls are legally protected, and it is an offence to disturb them. If a baby falls from the nest, here’s when you should intervene and how. Be aware that gulls are very protective parents – although being touched by humans won’t cause them to reject the baby, you may find they ‘swoop’ at you to try and protect their baby.
 
 

When to Help

Tick If the bird has been caught by a cat or dog
Any bird which has been bitten by a cat, regardless of its age, will need rescue and treatment. There are bacteria on cat’s teeth which will pass into the bird’s bloodstream when it is bitten. Without antibiotics within a few hours of the attack the bird may develop fatal septicaemia. Any bird caught by a dog should be properly assessed for injuries.
Tick If the bird is obviously injured
If you can see a wound, or a wing or leg is obviously damaged then the bird needs help. Survival in the wild is unlikely with an injury.
Tick A fluffy or partially feathered baby on the ground
These babies are at risk and should be placed back in the nest or as close to it as possible e.g. on a nearby house or garage roof. Contact a rescue for help if the baby is very small and the original nest is hard to access. Take care to place them as close to their original nesting site as possible and not near to neighbouring gulls’ nests.
Tick A bird has flown into a window or been hit by a car
This is common as they learn to fly. The baby may just be stunned but make sure it’s safe and contact a wildlife rescue for advice
Cross A healthy fledgling on the ground
Like most birds, gulls leave the nest before they’re fully able to fly. It’s common for them to spend a couple of days building strength in their wings from the ground. Unless they are injured or in immediate danger, they are best left alone. If in danger, try first to just move them to a nearby safer location.
Cross A baby gull is crying, and the parents don’t seem to be feeding it
It is normal for baby gulls to call to their parents. Gulls also feed their young much less often than many other species at only a handful of times a day. As long as the baby is uninjured and off the ground and the parents are in the area, this isn’t a cause for concern.

Capture

Gulls do have strong beaks so it’s sensible to pick the bird up with a towel or gloves to protect yourself and minimise stress to the bird. Keep the beak away from your face and eyes. Have something ready to put the bird straight into before you catch it if possible. Be aware too that any parent birds may be protective and swoop at you to try and scare you off. It may be helpful to have someone else assisting you by holding an umbrella to keep the parents away.

Containment

Place the bird in a large, sturdy cardboard box or cat carrier. If using a cardboard box, ensure the lid is secured to prevent escape and make sure to provide air holes. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.

Care

If the bird has been caught by a cat, then you must seek urgent help. The bird will need to be given antibiotics within a few hours of being bitten or it may develop fatal septicaemia. Some wildlife rescues are available 24/7 for this sort of emergency and we try to give some indication of availability on our listings. You could also contact local vets – although they will not have facilities for the long-term care of the bird, they may be willing to provide a one-off dose of antibiotics. Some may even do so free or at a much-reduced price.

Do NOT attempt to feed the bird without first seeking expert advice based on the age and species of your casualty. Never attempt to force feed water to a bird as it is very easy to drown them and never offer cow’s milk, worms or alcohol.

If the bird is shocked or weakened supplementary heat can be very helpful. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the bird can get away from the heat if it wants to. If the bird begins to pant, remove the heat source immediately.

NB – this advice is designed to cover the first hour or so. If you are not able to get the bird to a wildlife rescue within this time, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.

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