Rescuing An Injured Bird

From being attacked by a cat to flying into a window, there are many reasons why a bird might become injured and it’s natural to want to help. But would you know what to do if you found an injured bird in your garden?

Assess the situation

The first step is to assess the situation. Being approached or handled by a human can be very stressful for a bird so make sure the bird really does need your help before you step in.

If the bird can still fly, it might simply need a few minutes recovery time before it will go on its way without any intervention. And often fledglings might look as if they need help but in fact are simply learning to fly. If a baby bird does not have feathers but is uninjured, you can pop it back into its nest. If you can’t see the nest, place the bird into a hedge or bush where it will be hidden from predators.

If an adult bird is injured and cannot fly, the first step is to move it to a safe place where it can’t be attacked by cats or dogs. Then you’ll need to seek advice from professionals such as a vet or animal sanctuary.

Create a safe space

Before you handle the bird, prepare a box to put it into. A cardboard box is usually ideal – create air holes for ventilation and place a towel or something soft in the bottom of the box. Avoid wire cages or carriers as these can cause further injury to the bird.

You should always wear gloves before handling a bird to prevent injury and the spread of germs. And remember to wash your hands afterwards even if you have been wearing gloves.

If the bird is particularly large or seems aggressive as some birds of prey can be, don’t attempt to handle it. Instead, call for professional help and keep a safe distance away but close enough to scare away any cats or other animals that might try to approach the bird.

When handling a bird, always be gentle to prevent further injury. Try to avoid sudden movements, which could cause further distress. Placing a towel or blanket over the bird before you pick it up can make it easier to handle and can also help to calm the bird. Once you’ve placed the bird in the box, you can cover it with a towel or blanket to create a dark environment, which will help the bird feel safe.

Don’t try to feed an injured bird as providing the wrong type of food could cause further problems for the bird. You can, however, provide a small dish of water.

Once the bird is safely away from predators, call a local wildlife rescue centre or vet who will be able to offer advice. You might be tempted to try to nurse a bird back to health but this is rarely a practical approach. Unless you are experienced in this area, it’s likely that you will cause further harm or distress to the bird. In addition, depending on where you live, it might be illegal to keep a bird at home without the proper license.