FAQ - General Rescue
NOTE: Birds can carry diseases or parasites, so be sure to wash your hands and clothing after handling a bird.
What kind of birds will you take?
We see more than 130 different species of birds each year. We treat all NATIVE species of wild birds. In the case of non-natives, you can still call us for suggestions or referrals.
Should I feed the bird I rescued?
The short answer: No. The longer answer: Feeding the bird can cause actual harm, including death. Even if no visible harm is done, feeding a bird can make it harder for us to diagnose what is wrong with the bird.
If a bird has been deprived of food for a long period of time, correct foods must be reintroduced carefully so as not to cause further damage to the bird’s organs.
At the Center, baby birds are hand-fed special diets tailored to each particular species. These diets have been developed over many years and are continuously adjusted and improved as we learn more about the nutritional requirements of various species.
Should I give the bird water?
Never try to force water into a bird, doing so can send water down the trachea (tube leading to the air system) rather than the esophagus (tube leading to the digestive tract) and choke or kill the bird.
How do you pick up an injured bird?
Catching an injured bird is usually not too challenging since the bird is often incapable of moving and too weak or shocked to put up much resistance to handling.
Pick the bird by grasping gently around the shoulders so that the wings are held against the body and cannot flap.
If you are having trouble catching the bird, or you are afraid to touch the bird, a towel or sheet can be used. Simply drop the towel lightly over the bird. The darkness will help calm and slow down the bird’s movements to make pick-up easier.
If attempting to pick up a raptor (such as a hawk or owl) or large waterbird (heron or egret), always wear protective gloves and eye protection. Hold on to a raptor’s feet, or a waterbird’s head or neck, as these are the body parts that can hurt you.
How do I transport a bird?
Whenever possible, prepare your transport box before attempting to pick up a bird. This minimizes handling time, which is less traumatic for both the bird and you.
The container: Never use a wire cage to transport a bird, as cages can cause severe damage to feathers and wings. To safely carry and protect a bird during the trip to the Center, use a cardboard box lined with a soft towel. Cardboard causes less feather damage than a bag or similar container when transporting. Punch small holes in the box to allow for sufficient air but minimal light.
The padding: Do not use shredded paper or cotton to line the box, as these can easily get caught in the bird’s toes or get wrapped around the neck. Do not use green grass cuttings, as the dampness could give the bird a chill. Finally, do not use an old bird’s nest. These may harbor mites and vermin harmful to the bird. For younger or injured birds, a towel or facial tissue can be bunched around the bird to provide support and prevent the bird from resting in an uncomfortable, splayed position.
Now you can quickly pick up and box the bird. (See How do you pick up an injured bird? above.)
Once the bird is tucked safely in its box, a lid with holes punched in it or a towel can be placed over the box to prevent the bird from jumping out and to also give the bird calming darkness. Frightened birds find darkness soothing.
Especially when transporting a raptor (bird of prey) or large waterbird, take great care to ensure that the bird is securely contained in a box. It can be very dangerous if the bird were to escape into the car as you drive!
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