can i help an injured bird

In spring and summer, birds and other wildlife are busy raising their young. What should you do if you find a baby bird that seems to have fallen from its nest or coyote pups that seem to have no parents around?

Your instinct is to help. But before you act, know this: most efforts to save apparently abandoned or injured birds and wildlife probably do more harm than good.

Handling a wild bird

Hold onto the bird with a firm grip that is not too tight once you have it in your possession. Never pick up a bird by its legs, head, or wings; always grab it by its body.

With one hand, support the bird’s body and its feet. (The feet in the palm of your hand should be directly beneath the bird’s body, not dangling.) If the bird is small enough to fit comfortably in your palm, place your other hand over it and hold it firmly in both of your hands. Avoid creating gaps between your hands that the bird could squirm through.

Should the bird exceed the size of your hand’s palm, g. , a pigeon), grasp it with one hand as previously mentioned, and then place your other hand over the shoulders of both wings, holding the wings folded against the bird’s body in their typical, at-rest position.

When handling the bird, keep the following in mind:

  • The bird is very frightened. The bird is hurt, in a strange place, away from its flock or mate, and being held captive by a large predator (you). The bird is not aware of your good intentions.
  • Even though the bird appears to be very still, they are not at ease. When they sense that their lives are in danger, birds go into this motionless state as a way to avoid being noticed by predators.
  • Injured adult songbirds can very easily die of stress. Never hold the bird for longer than is necessary. Avoid staring at the bird, touching them, or attempting to determine how injured they are. You want to handle the bird as little as possible because “petting” it will frighten it rather than soothe it. ”.

Bring the bird inside to a room that is safe, has a closed door, and is empty of kids or animals. The room should have as little furniture as possible because if the bird escapes, it could hide behind a piece of furniture or into a container where it would be hard to get to them. A bathroom is usually a good place to take the bird; if needed, you can block off that area with a towel placed under the bathroom door.

Covering the windows until the bird is inside a box is the best course of action if it appears to be able to fly. If not, the bird may escape from you and sustain injuries from flying into the window.

Making a box to transport a bird

You’ll have to get the bird ready for transportation to a wildlife rehabilitator in a box. Heres how:

  • Find a sturdy cardboard box that has a top. For most songbirds, a shoebox is a good size.
  • Put a cloth (not terry cloth) inside on the bottom. It will work just fine with a tea towel, a T-shirt, or even a few paper towels. The majority of towels are made of terry cloth, which is not recommended because the loops can snag a bird’s beak or toes.
  • Make a “nest” that fits the bird. Place another small towel (it should be cloth, not terry cloth) on top of the paper or cloth towels and roll it into a doughnut shape. This will act as the bird’s “nest” and provide support. But if the bird doesn’t stay there, that’s OK.
  • Make a number of tiny air holes in the top of the cardboard box, about the size of a pencil. It is preferable to have more tiny air holes than a few large ones. Prior to putting the bird inside the box, make sure the air holes are made.
  • Place the bird in the box. Make sure the bird does not fly away when you place it inside the box. This can happen easily, and it can cause more injuries. Don’t assume that the bird is incapable of flying; they may suddenly regain the ability. Make sure there are no gaps for the bird to squeak through and quickly tape the box shut.
  • Add a source of heat. If you have a heating pad, turn it down to a low setting, cover it with a towel, and then place the box containing the bird on top of the towel. For a songbird that is injured, 85 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature.

Place the cardboard box indoors, away from children and pets, in a quiet, dark place. Verify that the box is not facing the sun or the HVAC vents directly. Unless specifically instructed to do so by the wildlife rehabilitator, do not provide the bird with food or water. It is very easy to drown a bird. While you wait for the rehabilitator to visit you, leave the bird by itself in the box.

How to catch an injured bird

Here are some typical scenarios in which you can rescue an injured bird:

  • If a bird gets stuck in a fence or in the mouth of a dog or cat, remove it as soon as you can, being cautious. To keep the bird from taking off and possibly dying from injuries, try to hold onto it.
  • The bird is unable to fly, so approach it slowly and silently from behind. Then, reach down quickly and precisely. Without pausing, quickly wrap your hand around the bird’s shoulders, keeping its wings tucked in against its body, and lift it up. Try this again in the early evening when it is almost dark if it does not work during the day.
  • The bird can run, walk, or hop. To pick it up, try to maneuver it into a corner or up against a wall. Ask one or two other people to assist you if needed. A bird net also can be useful.
  • The bird has some flight ability, so you might be able to capture it after dusk or by guiding it into a corner. Again, a bird net can help. The following day, when the bird may be less weak from their wounds, you might be able to catch it if it can fly well.
  • The bird appears to have an injury, despite its good flight: It may not be feasible to capture it. Avoid finding yourself in a situation where you have no chance of catching the bird. That won’t work and could stress the bird to death.

Sometimes you can put seed on the ground leading into a pet carrier, especially if it’s for a bird that lives in your yard. Once the bird enters, you can carefully close the door. A bird that is injured should not be trapped with other birds as this could lead to more injuries. When pigeons, doves, and certain other ground feeders are hurt, this technique performs best.


Should I help a wounded bird?

If you find a young bird (or any species of wildlife that seems sick, injured, or in trouble), usually the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Why? For one thing, it’s the law. In North America, it is illegal to disturb most wildlife species.

What to do if you find a bird on the ground?

Wearing gloves, or with clean hands, gently pick up the bird and place it in a covered box with air holes and a cloth or soft bedding. Place the box in a dark, quiet place away from people and pets. Don’t give the bird food or water. Contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center to arrange for further care.

What should I do with an injured bird?

Once you’ve checked over the bird, gently place it in a box with air holes. Keep the box closed and move it into a cool, quiet, dark area. If you spotted an injury, get in touch with a wildlife specialist for further advice.