It’s a sunny morning, but you don’t hear any birds chirping outside your window.
With you morning cup of coffee in hand, you venture outside.
You see a small ball of feathers lying in your garden.
As you move closer, you realize that you’ve found a fallen bird that has landed in beside your home.
How do you manage?
What do you do with this injured bird that is now reliant on you?
We hope to give you instructions and tips for how to support this animal that is now in your care.
Determine the Injury
When approaching the bird, you must first decide what is wrong with the animal.
If you heard the bird collide with a window or any other surface, make sure to examine for external injuries.
As The Running Artist explain in their video, if a bird appears to have no external injuries, allow it to recover on its own.
Wait to see if the bird is able to recover on its own and fly away.
Another important caution to note is if the bird is a baby bird, do not touch it.
Honeyfield explains that it’s important to not touch or bother the baby bird, unless it’s injured or has been there for more than three days.
The reason for this is if it has been less than three days, the baby’s parents may return for it and you may be doing more harm than good in picking it up.
A young bird on the ground is not necessarily abandoned.
Many baby birds are learning to fly and moving it away from its family and habitat may cause more damage.
However, if a bird has a visible external injury, it is important to seek a wildlife rehabilitator, which we will explain later.
One sign that a bird is injured is it does not fly away when you approach it.
It is definitely injured if it does not hesitate when you attempt to pick it up.
If the bird’s eyes are closed, crusted, swollen, bleeding, or squinted, it has suffered some injury.
You can also check the body for blood or wounds to determine the seriousness of the injury.
At this time, look to see if there is an injured limb, dangling leg, or if one of the wings is drooping or hanging at an angle.
You may also notice that when you approach that the bird may try to fly but is unable to get off the ground.
If you have noticed any of the aforementioned injuries, it is clear that the bird is in need of treatment and care.
Picking Up the Bird
Once you have determined that the bird is injured and is unable to heal on its own, it is time to pick up the bird and transport it to a recovery box.
Make sure you are wearing the appropriate gloves or that you use a towel when picking up the bird.
You don’t want to cause any additional trauma or stress, so make sure to be gentle and careful when handling the bird.
Hold bird firmly but not too tightly. Make sure you support the bird’s feet with one of your hands.
If the bird is bigger than your hand, place one hand over the body of the bird and the other hand around the shoulders of both wings.
If it was clear that the bird had any external injuries, avoid touching said injuries or applying any pressure to the location of stress.
If you live with another person or have a friend on the scene to help, have them have the recovery box handy so you can carefully place the bird inside.
Even if the bird is very still, that doesn’t mean that the bird is calm.
If a bird feels threatened for their lives, their defence mechanism is to be still so as not to be noticed by predators.
Many wildlife rescue centres and resources describe the importance of a recovery box.
This box can be of any size and can even be made out of a shoebox.
Make sure that it is dark inside and that you puncture holes on the outside of the box to allow for circulation.
It is critical that injured birds are placed in a dark container while they recover.
The darkness will calm the bird while it revives.
They should be left in a quiet place outside the reach of other pets or predators.
If it is cold where you have found the bird, make sure to take the bird inside but to not place it in a room where the temperature is too hot.
Once the bird has been given sufficient time to rest, you can take the box outside and open the box to see if the bird is able to fly away.
Try not to open the box indoors, as your bird could mistakenly get stuck inside.
Another thing to consider is that it requires training to medically help a bird.
So, if you are unable to help the bird fully recover and fly away, it is likely not your fault.
If after a few trials the bird is unable to leave their recovery box on their own, it is time to contact support and leave their recovery up to professionals.
What Not to Do
Do not attempt to repair the bird’s injuries if you are not trained to do so.
You should also try to stay away from placing a bird in a recovery box if they are able to fly or if they look like they are able to recover on their own.
There are some things you should try to avoid when the bird is in your care.
Do not feed the birds bread or milk, which are not suitable food for birds that are invertebrates or feed off of seeds.
In that vein, try not to force feed them or force them to drink water.
You should never pick up a bird by the wing or by both wings or by their head. Do not hold the bird by one or two of their legs.
Some injured adult songbirds can easily die from stress. For this reason, do not hold a bird longer than you need to.
Injured bird in my garden who do I call?
If even after catch and release your animal is showing no signs of improvement, you should contact support in your local area.
For all other locations make sure to contact your local animal rescue or local veterinarian can also provide you with the help and information you need.
You can see an example of a catch and rescue on YouTube in North & Beard’s video, where they found a bird, contacted RSPCA, and took the bird in a recovery box to their local veterinarian.
If you are concerned that this happens again in the future, you may want to consider the reasons for the bird’s injury.
For instance, if you have a cat that scratch at birds or attempts to catch them, you may want to install a kitty door or some barrier to inhibit your cat from venturing to the areas where birds assemble.
One common way that birds are injured is through flying into windows.
Reflections on windows easily confuse birds as they see the reflection of the trees or sky.
There are many ways you can prevent this from happening again and again.
You can paint your window with tempera paint; add a screen, netting, or one-way transparent film.
Netting may be a good idea to cover the glass of your window because birds will bounce off before they hit the surface.
Make sure you invest in small-mesh netting so that the bird doesn’t get stuck or more injured when coming into contact with the netting.
You can also choose to place a decal, such as a sticker, sun catcher, or other objects, on the surface of the window.
The purpose of this is to cover reflections, so make sure the decals cover the whole surface if it is a larger window.
All About Birds suggest that Collidescape can be placed on your windows, and allow people on the inside of the room can see outside, but the window will appear opaque on the outside.
You have done a service to the environment and played your part in trying to help recover and rehabilitate this fallen bird.
Whether the bird was able to recuperate from time in the recovery box, or you took the bird to a local veterinarian for extra support, your actions have impacted their survival.
What technique was the most effective in saving your bird’s life?
Make sure to leave a comment with what strategy you used that was ultimately successful.
Hopefully, you were able to take preventative measures to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future, so that birds in your community can fly in peace without the threat of injury.