Adult Raptor (Bird of Prey) (owl, hawk, eagle, vulture, osprey, falcon)
When to intervene
If you observe any of the following the raptor must come into a wildlife facility: bleeding, broken limb, injury, emaciation, weakness and lethargy, insects on face or body.
An injured bird requires IMMEDIATE specialized care. A sick or emaciated bird may act lethargic and allow you to approach it or may be stuck in mud or water. Some adult birds will have more obvious injuries such as broken wings that drag and cannot fold back onto the body or be used for flight. Other injuries may be less immediately obvious but will prevent the bird from flying away as you approach.
DO NOT attempt to rehabilitate the bird on your own, even giving food or water to an injured or emaciated bird can lead to its death. It is illegal to try and rehabilitate wildlife on your own and attempting to do so may further complicate attempts to save it.
How to Transport
If a raptor needs help, you must be very careful when picking it up. Even if you are trying to help the bird, it will be frightened and may perceive you as a threat. Be particularly wary of their beak and talons that can INJURE you! The less contact the bird has with people, the more likely it is to survive since additional stress may be deadly to an already injured bird. Raptors don’t always show their fear, but they are extremely sensitive to stress and humans are a serious stressor. If you do not feel safe handling the raptor, please call your local animal control officer for assistance.
- Wear thick leather gloves (such as welding gloves or heavy gardening gloves if you have them.
- Prepare a carrier or box first. It should have holes and be secure enough that the raptor can’t
- Use a towel, blanket, or jacket to temporarily cover the bird. This will help calm the bird and allow you to more safely lift and carry it.
- Calmly approach the bird holding the towel in front of you.
- Carefully place the towel over the bird. Through the towel, gently fold the bird’s wings into its body with your gloved hands while pushing down very gently.
- Slide your gloved hands underneath the bird and grab one leg in each hand. Your arms should hold the wings into the bird’s body.
- Gently lift the bird and place it into a ventilated cardboard box or plastic dog or cat kennel. Slide one hand out while grasping the door or top, then pull the other hand out and close the transport container. DO NOT transport a bird loose in a car or truck bed.
- Keep the bird in a warm, dark, and quiet place out of the reach of children or pets and transport to a rehabilitation center as soon as possible.
Babies and Juveniles
When to intervene
- Brought to you by your cat or a dog
- Broken limb
- Featherless or nearly featherless bird (nestling) on the ground
- Evidence of a dead parent nearby
- Insect crawling on them
If you observe any of the above, bring them to a wildlife center immediately.
NEVER feed baby birds. Raptors have specific dietary needs and even the best meat available to you may be inappropriate or harmful to them. Most raptors will be suffering from dehydration and/or emaciation and sudden food or water may kill them.
If you observe a mostly feathered young bird on the ground and it appears healthy, it is most likely a fledgling. These birds are just a day or two away from being able to fly out of the nest and had a faulty start. If they have no injuries and no dogs or cats are nearby, check to see if the parents are coming around the nest from a distance. You can put the young bird on a bush or low branch, but chances are it will end up on the ground again. If the parents are nearby, watch to see if they are attentive to the bird on the ground as well as the nest. Most parents are. If they ignore it, or you think the bird is growing weak, then follow the step for an adult bird and bring it in.