The short answer is very, very little. If you find a nestling apparently ‘abandoned’ and cannot return it immediately to it’s nest, it’s chances of survival are very tiny. Watch a pair of Robins, say, feeding young in the nest, and you will see them going back and forth busily again and again, a ‘ferry service,’ carrying grubs and caterpillars to help their young grow from tiny, naked, helpless babies to fully-fledged birds, in just a few weeks. Can you do that? Probably not. There are exceptions. My niece has raised and maintained a Swift – no less – which fell from its nest above her apartment NINE YEARS AGO, and she still has it, feeding it dog food. It sleeps on her pillow, and rides around the house on the dog’s back – an example of remarkable dedication. By the way, on the subject of Swifts, if you come across a grounded adult on a cold windy day, try picking it up and just throwing it into the air – their long wings prevent them from taking off otherwise.

Young owls, of several species, are occasionally to be found in woodland situations, apparently abandoned, on the ground. LEAVE THEM ALONE. Mum will be along as soon as you are out of sight. As to baby House Sparrows and other small urban birds you may come across – I’m afraid there is very little you can do unless you wish to dedicate a lot of your life to them. It is worth remembering the maths here. If all the Great Tits which hatched from two broods of, say, half a dozen each survived to maturity (in one year) and had two broods per year each, just how many Great Tits would we have in twenty years’ time? Work it out. Fact is, the same applies to virtually all species – some have different strategies for survival, like migration, and many larger birds have much smaller broods (just one chick in the case of many raptors – and even that may not survive). 

Malcolm Palmer

We recommend that anyone finding an injured bird or animal should contact one of the rescue centres which exist in the Costa Blanca area.

We recently heard back from someone who had found an injured Swift and this is what she said –
 ” the rescue centre from Alicante picked up the swift the day after I called them. He had an owl and a box with 2 swifts with him. He explained that they have around 300 swifts a year so ‘mine’ was not the only one. It’s the European Union that’s keeping this rescue centre up and running apparently. I felt good about the care they are giving. So nice to hear from you and thank you for the information you provided”.

Details of local rescue centres are as follows:-


In Alicante –

Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre, 7A, Partida Santa Faz, 7, 03559 Alacant, Alicante, Spain, +34 965 93 80 85

The location is shown on this map



 In Murcia –
Centro De Recuperación De Fauna El Valle, Carr. del Valle, 350, +34 968 17 75 00

The location is shown on this map