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Typical Rescue Situations

Found a baby bird

If the young bird is hopping and running away from you, and it is in a “safe” location (i.e., no cats or dogs in the area and not near a road), leave it alone. If its parents are in the area they will probably find it, but continue monitoring the situation to be sure the adults return.

  • If the bird is in immediate danger from outdoor pets, gently scoop it up and place in a nearby bush or shrub, out of harm’s way. Confine the pet.

  • If you find a baby with few or no feathers and you know where the nest is, then simply return the bird to its nest.

  • If the baby/fledgling is cold to the touch, take it inside to warm before placing back in the nest. Nestle the bird in a warm towel or use a hot water bottle with a towel between the bird and the bottle. Place the bird in a warm dark, quiet place away from children and pets.

  • Do not attempt to feed baby birds or fledglings!

  • If you cannot find the nest or if the bird appears to be sick, injured, or your pet brought the bird home still alive, contact BRC for directions on how and when to bring the bird to us.

(See more in Baby Bird FAQs)

Found a fallen or destroyed nest

If the nest has fallen or has been destroyed, and you are sure that the parents are still in the immediate area, you can construct a makeshift nest using a small basket or plastic container.

  • Put holes in the bottom of container for drainage.

  • Line the container with material from the old nest, or dry grass or leaves.

  • Wire your nest to a branch, or place it securely in a branch fork close to or in the same spot as the old nest. If you are not sure where the bird was nesting, then call BRC for more information.

  • Place bird(s) into the new nest.

  • Do not attempt to feed baby birds or fledglings. The parents will do this.

  • Continue to monitor the situation to confirm that the parents have resumed caring for the babies.

Contact BRC for directions on how and when to bring the bird to us.
(See more in Baby Bird FAQs)

Found an egg

If the wind or other factor has knocked an egg out of its nest and you can locate the nest, gently place the egg back.

  • Do not attempt to incubate an egg at home! If they are no longer viable, they are likely to explode when warmed.

  • If you cannot locate the nest, or think that the parents have abandoned the nest, contact BRC for additional directions.


Please note that BRC is not licensed by Fish and Wildlife to incubate and hatch eggs, and that it is illegal to do so on your own.

Bird entangled

If the bird is caught in something simple such as twine, string, or fishing line, have someone assist you by:

  • Gently holding the bird, preferably in a clean towel.

  • Using blunt-tipped scissors, gently cut knots out of the string/twine, being very careful to not cut the feathers.

  • If there are no signs of other injuries; return bird back to a nearby bush or shrub.

  • Be particularly attentive if the individual was caught-up in fishing line, as this material can easily cut through skin and do serious damage.

  • If you have any doubts about the bird’s condition you can bring it in to the Center for a thorough exam.

  • If there are any signs of injury, contact BRC for additional instructions or how to locate us.

Oiled or coated bird

Oiled birds are rapidly debilitated either by the toxic effects of ingesting oil or other substances, or by resulting starvation and exhaustion when they are unable to fly and secure food. For the best hope of success, the bird must be stabilized before the substance is removed. Do not try to do this yourself.

  • Prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird).

  • Pick up the bird and place in the container. Keep the container warm, dark and quiet.

  • Transport immediately to The Bird Rescue Center.

Contact BRC for additional instructions, or how to locate us.

Injured bird (wing injury, flew into a window, hit by a car, etc.)

  • Prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird).

  • Gently and carefully pick up the bird and place in container. If a wing or leg is injured, keep the limb aligned in its normal position as much as possible while capturing and moving the bird.

  • If you suspect a head injury, support the head as you move the bird to the container.

  • Transport to the Center as soon as possible. Contact BRC for additional instructions or how to locate us.

Bird caught by a cat or a dog

If you even suspect a bird has had contact with a cat, you need to bring it in! Puncture wounds may be hard to see, and the saliva of cats contain bacteria that is lethal to birds. Time is of the essence here!

  • Prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird).

  • Gently and carefully pick up the bird and place in container. If a wing or leg is injured, keep the limb aligned in its normal position as much as possible while capturing and moving the bird.

  • If you suspect a head or neck injury, support the head as you move the bird to the container.

  • Transport to the Center as soon as possible. Contact BRC for additional instructions or how to locate us.

Bird on sticky trap

For the best hope of success, the bird must be stabilized before removal from the trap. Do not try to do this yourself.

  • Prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird). Be sure there will be nothing else that can get stuck on the trap with the bird in the container.

  • Place sticky trap with bird in the container. Keep the container warm, dark and quiet.

  • Transport to the Center as soon as possible. Contact BRC for additional instructions or how to locate us.

Handling raptors

Always use extreme caution when handling birds of prey such as hawks and owls.

  • First, prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird).

  • Be especially careful of the talons and the beak which are extremely sharp and strong.

  • If available, thick leather gloves should be worn, but do not depend on them for total protection.

  • The bird will be most easily caught by covering it with a sheet or towel and quickly restraining the feet with gloved hands.

  • Place the bird into a suitable box and secure the lid for your safety during transport.

If you are at all unsure of how to approach these birds, contact BRC for additional instructions or to arrange for a Field Rescue volunteer to come.
 

Please note: All of our Field Rescuers are volunteers, with jobs and other responsibilities. While every effort is made to contact and dispatch Rescuers into the field in a timely manner, we cannot guarantee their availability.

Handling large waterbirds (herons, egrets, etc.)

Like raptors, much caution should be used when approaching these birds. They have very long, spear-like beaks on the end of a powerful neck that is equivalent to a coiled spring! These birds are attracted to shiny, reflective objects. Protect your eyes!

  • First, prepare a box or other suitable container (see the section What to do before picking up the bird).

  • The beaks or necks of these birds should be held when picking them up. Gloves are recommended.

  • A pillowcase can be loosely placed over the head to prevent injury from the beak.

  • Place the bird into a suitable box and secure the lid for your safety during transport.

  • Please do not tape or otherwise secure beaks closed as some waterbirds, like pelicans, require their mouth to be open in order to breathe.

If you are at all unsure of how to approach these birds, contact BRC for additional instructions or to arrange for a Field Rescue volunteer to come.
 

Please note: All of our Field Rescuers are volunteers, with jobs and other responsibilities. While every effort is made to contact and dispatch Rescuers into the field in a timely manner, we cannot guarantee their availability.

Didn’t find an answer here?

Check out our other FAQs in this section. Still have questions?

Give us a call — 707 523-2473 [BIRD]

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