What to do if you find an injured wild bird?

Escrito em 10 de dezembro de 2021

What to do if you find an injured wild bird?

There are several reasons why a wild bird can get injured from. Some of the most common are getting attacked by feral cats, being hit by cars, window strikes, bacterial and viral illnesses, falling from the nest, and many more.  

How do we know whether a bird is injured or not?

A few things can help us understand if a bird is injured. One of the first clues is when it is found on the ground without moving or flying away when approached. Another good clue is to look at the condition of the feathers and eyes. If the feathers are fluffed, and the eyes closed, squinted, crusty, weepy, swollen or bleeding, the bird is most likely injured. Finally, other evident conditions can be injured limp, the existence of blood or visible wounds.


What can you do then?

When you see an injured bird, you can do one of two things: catch it with great care and take it to a wildlife hospital (or similar) or call the specialised entities responsible for that task. 

After taking your conclusions and being certain that you encountered an injured bird, you can try to catch it but only if you feel you are capable of doing it. For that, you should use a piece of cloth and then a cardboard box with paper inside and some small air holes to place the bird and carry it. Whatever you do, you must never put water inside the box, as the bird can drown or die from hypothermia. Then, you must take it to a wildlife care centre or contact the nearest one to arrange the pick-up from specialised teams.

In case you don’t feel comfortable catching an injured bird or don’t have the basic things to keep it, you should contact a wildlife care centre or any other entity that is responsible for that service.

Regardless of your decision, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • The bird is frightened. It’s injured and under stress. It’s being approached by a large predator (you) and is unable to understand your good intentions. You should minimise your intervention;
  • The bird is still and may look calm, but it isn’t. It’s a natural defence against being noticed, as it feels threatened;
  • Handle the bird with great care. You can hurt both you and the bird. Don’t do it if you are not comfortable or able to do it;
  • The bird is ill, so don’t try to feed it or give it water. Think that eating and drinking are the least you want to do whenever you are ill. It is something for later on that should be done by specialists;
  • Some songbirds may easily die under stress. Hold or keep the bird with you for as little time as possible. You should not stare at it or take it home. Deliver it to a wildlife hospital or care centre;
  • No matter how strong an adult injured bird may seem, you should never try to release it back to nature. Never throw it in the air to see if it flies. Nor leave it on the ground unguarded. Even if you can’t catch it, you should keep an eye on it until a rescue team takes care of it.


Young Blackbird on the ground, probably being fed by its parents.

What if it is a chick?

During spring, the breeding season for most species, it is common to find little birds on the ground, especially songbirds. In these cases, you need to pay attention to other aspects. 

If the bird is featherless with closed eyes, it is still very young. It must return to the nest as soon as possible. When that is not possible, you should get in touch with the nearest wildlife care centre.


On the other hand, when many young birds first fledge and leave the nest, they may already have a few tail and wing feathers, though rather short. These young birds often do not need help from humans. If they are vivid and able to stand and jump and you can hear the parents calling in the nearby trees or bushes, it means that you don’t have to worry about them, as the parents are still taking care of them. 

Of course, you can always check the surroundings looking for possible feral cats or any other predators. If that is the case, you can either try to put it back in the nest or get in contact with a wildlife care centre and follow their recommendations.  


Young Fledged Blackbird.

We hope this article was useful for you. Yet, we encourage you to be proactive and research the nearest wildlife care centre/hospital and read more about this subject.