I've Found A Bird In Need, What Do I Do?
If you come across a raptor/bird of prey that you think is in need please consider this information.
The first thing you should assess is if the raptor is an adult or a juvenile. If it is a young raptor that has developed feathers (it may still have some down feathers) then it is a fledgling. Unless it is in immediate danger or is injured, please leave it alone. Fledglings will often spend time hopping on the ground and flapping their wings as they learn to fly. Their parents should still be around and will continue to feed them. If it is in your backyard and you have pets, try to keep them inside or contained so that the bird can finish learning and move on.
If the young raptor is mostly covered in down (fluffy, white feathers) then it is a nestling. If possible, the best thing for you to do is to put the bird back in its nest. Touching a baby raptor will not prevent the parents from continuing to take care of it. If the nest is too high in the tree or you can’t get to it for whatever reason, you can create a makeshift nest to place lower in the nest tree. To do this you will need a sturdy basket or other container with good drainage. Make a nest in the basket using grass, leaves, and twigs. Then secure the basket nest back on the tree as close to the original nest as you can and place the baby inside. If possible, watch the new nest from a distance for a few hours to see if the parents return.
If you have watched a young raptor closely and haven’t seen a parent in a day or two, or if the chick is injured, you can bring the bird to us. Be very careful when handling young birds as they are fragile. Use a box or crate to transport the bird to our facility using extreme care so that you are not injured by the bird’s talons.
If the bird you have come across is an adult, determine if it is actually in need of help. If the raptor doesn’t fly away when you approach it, then it is probably injured. However, sometimes if a raptor has food it might not fly away because it is protecting its meal. If you determine that the bird is injured in some way, you can attempt to capture it. Be very careful when trying to handle a raptor. They have strong beaks, sharp talons, and can be dangerous, especially when they feel threatened. Some things that will help you are a towel or blanket, work gloves, and a box or kennel. Wear thick gloves and throw the towel/blanket over the bird. Darkness will often help to calm the bird down and make it safer to grab. Gently fold the wings into the body and place the bird into whatever container you have for transport. The best things to use are dog/cat crates or a sturdy cardboard box. Make sure there are holes for ventilation. If you cannot safely handle the bird yourself, call animal control, the local game warden or the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
If Help is Needed:
Once you have caught the bird, do NOT feed the bird and do NOT try to put water in its mouth. You can do more damage to the bird by feeding it the wrong thing, than it not being fed at all. If you can’t bring the bird to us right away, then place it in a quiet, dark area and have as little contact with it as possible. This will help to keep the bird calm and will hopefully prevent it from hurting itself more. We are open every day from 9:00-4:30. Bring the bird to us as soon as you possibly can. They will have a better chance at survival. Do not try to rehabilitate the raptor (or any wild animal) in your home. It is illegal to keep raptors unless you have the proper state and federal permits. Whenever possible, please call us when you are bringing a bird to us so we can be prepared for its arrival, 620-793-4226.