Helping found birds

The main point to remember with found birds is to minimise any stress to the bird, as shock can be more of a killer than the actual injury.

If a wild bird of prey actually allows you to approach it to pick it up, then it is most likely that it’s in a very poor condition.

Always remember that all birds of prey have very sharp powerful talons, with this in mind, make sure to take every precaution you can to avoid personal injury.

Getting ready to rescue the bird

Prepare the container you intend to put the bird in. Ideally a cardboard box, not so small that the bird is squashed in causing further damage, but not so large that the bird can jump around inside.
If possible, place a towel or small mat in the bottom; this will help stop the bird slipping around. Never use straw, hay or sawdust and do not put any water in the box with the bird.
If you feel capable of doings so, then gently throw a jumper, coat or similar item over the injured bird (remember to avoid contact with talons).
Do not try to examine it as the stress of manhandling the bird could result in its death.
Place it in the container you prepared earlier.
Take it to your nearest veterinary surgeon or if you have a recognised raptor rehabilitation centre, pass it on to them.
Time is a crucial factor when rescuing a bird of prey as the sooner they receive treatment, the better chance they will have of surviving.

What to do if you find an ‘orphaned’ bird

When young birds are seem to be lost or orphaned, it is not always the case, as young birds disperse from their nest at a very early age even before many of them can fly. It is common to see them sitting on the ground, in bushes and trees and because they look so vulnerable they are presumed lost or abandoned; most probably its parents know exactly where it is and will continue to feed it.

If however the chick is in danger from vehicles, people or predators, then as with dealing with injured raptors, take every precaution to protect yourself as even the smallest, cutest chick will grab hold with its talons; again throw a jumper, towel or similar item over the chick and put it somewhere nearby where it is safer. There is no truth to the tale that a mother bird will not return to the chick if she can smell humans.

If the chick is obviously injured, then take it to your nearest vet or again, recognised raptor rehabilitator. Please do not be tempted to care for the young chick yourself as they do need specialised care to enable successful release back into the wild; hand reared birds of prey soon become socially imprinted on humans, and as in most cases, condemns them to a lifetime in captivity.

It is an offence to deliberately imprint and keep a wild bred bird of prey in captivity.

Remember, if there are doubts about a young chick and you cannot see any visible signs of injury, then please leave it alone and let mother nature take care of her young.