Caring for an injured bird
Here’s how you can help a sick or injured bird
If you find a wild bird that allows you to come close to it, and they are not a fledgling, it’s safe to say there is likely to be an issue with their health caused by injury or illness. It’s important that the bird is seen by a professional.
Who can help?
- If the bird is injured, orphaned or in danger, please take it to an appropriate wildlife centre, you can find your nearest open wildlife centre at www.helpwildlife.co.uk
- Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital Cornwall is temporarily closed for refurbishment and building works.
- Cornish Birds of Prey Centre can assist with many injured bird species from garden birds like sparrows, blackbirds and pigeons to crows, ducks and geese. They can also help if you have discovered an injured bird of prey or owl also.
- Screech Owl Sanctuary can help if you have found an injured or ill owl of any kind.
How do I catch it?
- If the bird is large – like a bird of prey, seagull – or an oiled bird the easiest way to catch it is by throwing a towel, blanket or coat over it and then place them into a suitable pet carrier or box.
- When you are holding the bird, keep it away from your face to avoid any injuries.
- If you find a young bird out of its nest or on the ground, please contact a rescue for advice before attempting to return it to a nest.
- Try to handle the bird as little as possible to reduce stress. Contrary to popular belief, parent birds will not abandon their young due to the smell of humans. This is more applicable to mammals.
- If you cannot take the bird with you, make sure it’s safely out of harms way from predators or moving vehicles before reporting it.
Caring for the bird before you take it for help
- Place the bird in a box large enough for it, with plenty of air holes.
- Please do not offer food or water to any injured, ill or orphaned wildlife unless advised to by a professional. Birds can easily aspirate when given water incorrectly due to the position of their airway and feeding a young bird incorrect food or whilst hypothermic can lead to complications and be fatal. It is generally best to not feed a bird and for food and water provision to be left until the bird is at a rescue.
- Place the box in a warm quiet area, out of direct sunlight.
- If the bird is oiled – do not try to clean it. The birds need to be dosed with a special liquid to clean any oil from their stomachs that they may have preened off.
On arrival at Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital Cornwall
- During opening hours, the bird will initially be examined by our staff at the Hospital or temporary site
- We work closely with our vet, Rosevean, to ensure the best outcome for each bird in our care.
- If the bird can be treated, we try to bring all birds up to the condition where they are able to be released back into the wild.
- Sadly, some birds cannot be saved, and may be suffering due to their illness or injury. In this instance, they are humanely and painlessly put to sleep to prevent any further pain and distress.
- If you are unable to bring it to the hospital during our opening hours, due to lack of transport or distance from the Hospital, the Help Wildlife website www.helpwildlife.co.uk provides details of your nearest rescue and rehabilitation centre in their directory.
- If the bird is injured and we or other rescue centres are closed, please take it to a local vet – they will provide free first aid to wildlife. We are happy to liaise with vets in regards to ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.
- Alternatively, you can call the RSPCA on their dedicated wildlife helpline: 0300 123 8967.