What to do if you find an injured Bird of Prey.
The first thing to remember is that if a bird is sitting looking very tame and allowing you to approach it is almost undoubtedly sick or injured. Healthy wild birds don’t hang around, so bear that in mind. Though sometimes they can ‘play dead’ so approach with caution.
You also have to remember that any injured bird will be terrified and stressed, and a bird of prey can hurt you if you are not careful. If a bird is not behaving normally, then you can check by approaching it, if it does not fly off, there is probably something wrong, unless it is a baby and unable to fly yet.
If possible wear a pair of gloves to pick up a bird; however the chances of you having a good strong pair to hand are slim. So if you can use a towel or even your coat, walk up slowly and cover the bird from the front with the material, then pick up from the top and try to fold the wings up to the body.
Avoid the feet, hold the legs, but not in a murderous grip just firmly ideally you should have one finger between the legs, but that takes experience. If you can find one, put the bird, in the towel, into a cardboard box, preferably one larger than the bird, but not huge. And make some ventilation holes in the side before putting the bird inside.
If you are near home put the box in a warm, dark, quiet place away from children and pets, and call us.
Do not disturb the bird once placed inside the box. Stress is the biggest killer of all so the less disturbance the better.
Don’t feed the bird or give it water, this can kill them if given the wrong food, or the wrong amount, particularly if they are very emaciated.
It is best to bring it to us, or a local rehabilitator as soon as possible. Or you can phone a local veterinary surgery and see if they are prepared to accept the bird..
Baby Tawny Owl
Picking up an injured bird and getting it to us, or someone who is experienced can mean the difference between life and death, so it really is worthwhile doing if you can. However bear in mind that once you do pick up an injured animal of any kind you take on the responsibility of making sure that it is dealt with and that may mean driving it to someone who can care for it.
Adult Tawny Owl
Holding it correctly takes experience..... Watch out for the feet!
What to do if you find a young or baby bird.
The Facts:During the breeding season most rehabilitators are inundated with fledging birds brought in as orphans. A very few of those might actually be orphans, but with the vast majority they are in fact ‘bird-napped!’
What most people don’t realise is that baby birds very often leave the nest early, sometimes before they can fly. However most of them have very loud voices and the ability to scramble up trees and branches. So it is best to leave them alone, because although you may not see her, their mother is probably within sight.
With small garden birds, the biggest danger is cats who kill literally millions of baby birds yearly. If you are a cat owner and you really care keep your cat indoors during the bird breeding season and you will save hundreds if not thousands of small garden birds. The figures for cats killing wildlife in the UK is 300 million birds, small mammals and reptiles/amphibians per year with 75% of those being birds!
So if you find a baby bird what to do? If it is in cover, under a bush, or has somewhere to hide leave it alone. If it is very exposed and you think might be in danger, gently pick it up and put it in a tree or bush, its mother will find it and care for it we promise. If it has not moved or mother been back to it for over 24hrs, it may be time to call us.
And NO by picking it up you are not causing the mother to desert because most birds do not have a sense of smell.
Obviously on occasion baby birds will actually be injured as well, so if that is the case, then it is best to take them to a rehabilitator because they will have the time and facilities to rear the young bird without imprinting it and making it unable to be released.
Unfortunately if you get caught purposefully hand rearing an owl so that it cant go back to the wild, it is an offence against the Wildlife and Countryside Act and you will get into trouble, so its best to take it to someone who can get it back to the wild.
Often you can help with the process and still be involved with the bird and getting it released again.
So what to do, carefully pick up the bird - if it is a small bird - blackbird, robin etc, put in on a towel in a small cardboard box (put holes in the side for air flow) put it somewhere quiet and warm as the biggest killer of young birds is shock. So away from children, noise etc. If it is a bird of prey chick you have to be a little more careful in picking it up as even as chicks they have powerful feet and beaks. Probably best to gently drop a towel over the chick and carry it to a suitable sized box. Try to find a box that is larger than the bird, if you squash it up into a small box you can cause feather damage or even injury. Again put it somewhere quiet and warm, but not hot!
Baby Tawny Owl
Now you have to find somewhere to take it. If it is obviously injured, then I would suggest phoning local vets to see if they can take it in, they should know who rehabilitates birds locally and if a bird comes in here with a serious injury, that is what we do anyway, so you improve the bird's chances by going directly to the vet rather than via the rehabilitator. Be aware though that if the injury is substantial, the vet may take the realistic decision to put the bird down, and in those cases it would probably be the right thing to do.
We take in all birds of prey, but we are not a suitable place for other wildlife! If it is late at night don’t worry! Keep phoning us....we will answer!
Some rehabilitation places are able to collect birds, some are not, so bear in mind that once you pick up a baby bird and remove it from the wild you accept responsibility for doing something for it, which may well include driving it to a place that can do a good job.