What to Do With An Injured Bird
You are walking along your front yard minding your own business. Then you hear it – a non-human cry of distress. And you see it – a bird on the ground, not flying, not going anywhere. It seems hurt.
After investigating, you realize that the poor thing is injured. Many people have found themselves in such situations before.
But sadly, few of us can rise to the occasion and do what needs doing. Not because we don’t want to do it, but because we don’t know what to do.
Fortunately, you have me to enlighten you on this topic. Let me tell you exactly what you should do if you encounter an injured bird.
Sometimes baby birds are mistaken for injured birds. These are young birds which have just begun to leave the nest and are in the process of learning to fly. Watch the bird for a while to see if this is so.
If the baby bird has feathers, then it is highly likely that it is learning to fly, which means it is not injured; nor has it been abandoned.
If it’s a featherless baby bird, this is a nestling, and you can take it in your hand and put it back in the nest. What people say about baby birds that have been touched by people being rejected by their parents is a myth. If it is cold, you can warm it in your hands before putting it back in the nest.
See also: 20 Frequently Asked Questions About Birds
Catching an Injured Bird
Pick the bird up with care in upright position. Picking it uprightly enables it to breathe. Hold it firmly in your hands, but don’t squeeze it around the wings close to the body. Carelessly holding an injured bird can cause further injury – firm gentleness is called for.
If it’s a small bird such as a blackbird, you can hold it in one hand. You place your hand over it, letting its head emerge from between your index finger and middle finger as other fingers wrap around the wings.
Hold medium-sized birds in both hands – a hand covering each wing. Larger birds, on the other hand, require extra care due risk of injury to the person holding the bird. If you do not have experience handling large birds, it is most prudent for you to seek the assistance of an expert rescuer.
If you can help it, put on gloves before attempting to help or rescue a bird. You do this to protect your hand.
You can also cover it with a towel or blanket before you try to move it. This will help calm the injured bired.
Put It in a Box
After catching the bird, examine it, and then put in a well-ventilated covered box. This is where the bird will await treatment. The reason for covering the box is to create darkness. Darkness is a powerful stress reliever. It is best for the bird if you keep it in darkness and silence.
You can use a cardboard box – cut holes into it for ventilation. Inside the box, at the bottom place something soft – say, a towel.
Set a heating pad on low and place it on the outside of the box at one end. This is to give heat/warmth to the bird.
You can also use a zip-top bag filled with hot water. Wrap the zip-top bag in a piece of cloth, and put it inside the box with the bird. The bird will receive all the warmth it requires to survive.
Call a Professional
To be more specific, call in a wildlife rehabilitator. These are people who have years of experience and training in taking care of wild animals.
Note: it is illegal for people without licenses to attempt rehabilitation of wildlife without seeking help from a licensed professional. Since birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it’s illegal for anyone to keep them without having a license.
If the bird had been caught by a cat, you should take it to a vet. In such cases, there is a high risk of septicaemia, which becomes fatal in approximately 48 hours.
After reading that, you now have a good clue of what you should do to care for an injured bird.
You will know what to do in the immediate moment, taking care of it for a while before you call in a professional to give it professional treatment.