MEMBERS of the public have been given advice on what to do if they find a baby bird that has fallen from its nest.

Last year, RSPCA wildlife centres cared for 2,788 birds that were picked up by well-meaning people.

But many of these birds were not actually orphans and may have been better off left in the wild.

The animal charity has now given advice as it enters into one of its busiest times of the year.

RSPCA’s scientific officer Evie Button said: “Our wildlife centres are now on high alert as the baby bird season kicks off.

The Argus: The RSPCA are expecting a lot of calls about vulnerable baby birds this summer.The RSPCA are expecting a lot of calls about vulnerable baby birds this summer.

“As well as handling thousands of calls - around 9,000 - last year, more than 5,400 orphaned, injured or sick young birds were brought into our four specialist centres.

“That’s a lot of round-the-clock hand-feeding, monitoring and rehabilitation of all types of young birds, from cygnets, sparrows and swallows to guillemots, goshawks and gulls.”

The RSPCA is expecting an increase in the number of people getting in touch to ask for advice around vulnerable baby birds.

Last year, during May, June and July, they were taking five calls an hour from people reporting wild birds in trouble.

Around one third of all calls - 3,330 - were related to orphaned birds and another 3,252 were about sick and injured birds.

The majority, 4,611, were about fledglings - older baby birds that are starting to fly - which the RSPCA advises can generally be left to be cared for by their parents.

The charity also received 1,413 calls about nestlings - very young baby birds - who will not survive out of the nest.

Nestlings are highly vulnerable and more likely to need help.

Of these phone calls, 391, were from Sussex.

The RSPCA also has specific information on their website for species which may need different types of help, such as gull chicks, bird of prey chicks and ducklings, goslings and cygnets.

The Argus: One of the many baby birds to be rescued last spring.One of the many baby birds to be rescued last spring.

For uninjured gull chicks, the RSPCA suggests people leave them alone and in the care of the parents.

If they appear to be injured or sick, then contact the local wildlife rehabilitation centre or vet.

With chicks of birds of prey then in general - except for tawny owlets - they won't be fed by their parents and will need help.

Although "re-nesting" these chicks is possible, it is best to record exactly where the baby bird was found and contact a professional rehabilitator.

Ducklings, goslings and cygnets do not usually stray far from their mother, so it should be close by. If the mother is dead, then it is best to contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre or vet for advice.

People can also download the RSPCA’s new guides which are full of advice on how to identify whether a young bird is injured or sick.