The right way to “rescue” a helpless chick

on 31st May 2014

In April 2014, Goh Juan Hui encountered a Collared Scops Owl (Otus lempiji) fledgling on the ground among some low vegetation (above). He thought the owl was injured and needed help. He contacted Johnny Wee who suggested that he use a stick to get the fledgling away from the ground, away from lurking predators. Juan Hui did just that (below).

With the owl perching on the tip of the stick, Juan Hui raised it up hoping to transfer it to a higher branch (below). But before this could be done, the bird flew off and disappeared among the trees. Well, it was not injured after all. It probably was on its maiden flight from the nest and landed on the ground.

Out of compassion, many people will pick up such “helpless” birds and bring them home, hoping to care for them. But please do not remove the bird away from its nesting area LINK. At the most, place the bird away from the ground so that it is not predated by a stray cat or dog, or even trampled by passersby. The adults are around to care for the fledgling but they are hidden from view.

Once, a Little Heron (Butorides striatus) fledgling was thrust onto YC Wee to care for LINK. Someone had removed it from the nesting site thinking it needed help and brought it to me in a box. I managed to care for it for about a month, to finally released somewhere near where it was found LINK. Not sure what happened after that. Did it survive? Not too sure. Was it predated? Probably, sooner or later.

Most people do not realise that fledglings need to be taught how to look for food… who are the predators… and how to avoid them. The first week or so after fledglings is the time when the adults (parents) teach the young how to survive in the wild. In the absence of this, especially when we interfere with nature, the “rescued” bird will end up as lunch for some predator or other.

However, for injured birds and not those that landed on the ground during their maiden flight, you can contact BAR (Bird Alert and Rescue) Singapore hotline +65 81802082 for help LINK.

YC Wee, Goh Juan Hui & Johnny Wee
May 2014

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. Collection of this collared scops owl at April 23 2014 YC Wee I’m Freddy Koh this collared this spotted by my friend Henry low and I was beside him he call me there’s a bird at the ground and I saw the collared scops owl I call Goh Juan Hui he is 60 Meter away and I told Mr Goh Juan Hui there is a baby collared scops owl at the ground and Mr Goh Juan HuiSay I call someone to help and he contacted Johnny wee who suggested that to use a Stick to get the collared scops owl away form the ground away lurking predators and my friend Henry low found a stick just beside the owl And just did that with the owl perching on the tip of the stick, henry low raised it up hoping to transfer it to a higher branch.but before this could be done,the bird flew off and disappeared among the trees.well,its not injured after probaly was on its maiden flight from the nest and landed on the ground when we saw the bird can fly we are so happy,luckily my friend henry low spotted the owl at ground

  2. Thanks Freddy for the complete account. Now we have the actual sequence of events from spotting to “rescuing”. I came across the photo from Juan Hui’s album and wrote up the above without discussing with him. It obviously is not that accurate. My apologies. If those at the scene can write up the stories, however brief, the next time, I will be happy to post them.

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