More than a 15 canaries were discovered left for dead on a rural road near Hucknall.
The RSPCA is appealing for information after 17 of the birds were discovered sealed in a cardboard box without ventilation, food or water in Blidworth Waye, Papplewick.
They have now been taken into care at rescue centre in South Yorkshire with specialist aviary facilities following the discovery last week.
Animal welfare officer Karen Brannan said: “We don’t know for sure how long they were there for, but they were in a bad way as they had been left with no food, water or perch.
“The box had been sealed shut and there were no air-holes to give the birds oxygen.
“They were very cold and were all huddled up together, standing in their own faeces.
“It was so sad to see and I’m so glad that they were found when they were.
“There is a good chance that whoever abandoned them did so with the thought that they would not be found, as they were in a rural area which does not attract a lot of people. They could have died a horribly slow death.
“It is very lucky that wildlife did not get to them before they were found.
“They have had a lucky escape and there is no way they would have survived on their own like this if this kind passer-by had not stopped to help, especially in the weather we have had recently.”
She added: “It is not acceptable to abandon animals in this way, whatever species they may be. Someone must know who these canaries belonged to as it is a large number of canaries. Someone must know who these canaries belonged to.”
The charity is asking anyone with information to contact them on 0300 123 8018.”