HELP INJURED WILDLIFE

HOW TO HELP AN INJURED BIRD

All native, migratory birds are protected by strict federal laws and it is your responsibility to adhere to those regulations in your interactions with local wildlife.  If you find a sick, injured or baby bird it is up to you to contact the proper authorities who are licensed to care for and rehabilitate such an animal.  A list of licensed facilities in San Diego County can be found below.

1.  If you find a sick or injured bird the first thing you can do is assess its situation.

a. How hurt is the bird?
b. Can it fly?
c. How is it behaving?

Any wild bird that allows you to approach it closely is injured or sick in some way.  Birds are intrinsically afraid of people so even if a bird appears physically healthy, if it lets you approach it to a very close distance it is probably sick in some way.

2.  If the bird is in a vulnerable situation such as being on a road or somewhere they could be hurt by other animals such as cats and dogs you can pick the bird up and place it in a dark cool place such as a cardboard cat carrier.  Be sure to put something soft in the bottom such as an old rag to help keep the bird from injuring itself further.  If dealing with a raptor wear thick leather gloves on both hands before trying to pick the bird up.  Even small raptors have incredibly sharp, strong talons and their puncture wounds are very susceptible to infection, so be careful.

3.  Once in a safe place call a licensed rehabilitation facility that will walk you through any other steps you should take and arrange to pick up the animal.  Once the animal is in the care of a licensed rehabilitator you can take a sigh of relief and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

4.  If you find a young bird on the ground covered in downy feathers you have 2 options:

a. If you can safely reach the nest you can carefully place the young chick back in the nest with its siblings where it will be cared for by the adults
b. If that isn’t an option you can follow steps 2 and 3 above to ensure the young chick will receive the proper care.

5.  If you find a young bird that is fully feathered with a little down still showing you should do the following:

a. If the bird is in a safe location, i.e. not on a road, observe the bird for several minutes.  Watch to see if another similar bird is nearby (parent) or coming to feed the bird on the ground.  Often times when young birds are just learning to fly they will fall to the ground and hop around testing their wings.  At this stage they are still being cared for by their parents.  They will receive food from their parents and hopefully figure out their flying mechanism and be able to return to the nest.  You should not disturb a bird at this stage in their life unless you see an immediate threat to their safety such as a car, cat, or other predator.

b. If you do see an immediate danger you can move the bird to a safe place and allow its parents to continue to care for it.  If a safe place is unavailable (i.e. a cat is patrolling the neighborhood that cannot be removed) then you can follow steps 2 and 3 above.

 


Here are some of our local rehabilitators in San Diego County:

Skyhunters – Raptor Rehabilitator, Alpine, CA 619-445-6565
Project Wildlife – Rehabilitates all birds, San Diego, CA 619-225-9453
Fund for Animals – Raptor Rehabilitator, Ramona, CA 760-789-2324
San Diego County Animal Control – For all injured animals, 619-236-4250

 


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