Injured Bird Handling
Injured Bird Handling and Transportation
The first thing to remember when you discover and try to help injured birds is that they do not realize you are trying to help. They view you as a predator and will always either try to flee or strike back at any attempt to be captured. Secondly, they are already compromised by their injury, so it is important to be as gentle and as quiet as possible. In fact, when traveling with injured birds, please keep the radio off and conversation quiet and to a minimum. If you do suspect an injury, it is best to consult a licensed rehabiliator before attempting to recover the bird. They can provide further advice on the following handling instructions.
Do not pick up the bird with bare hands. Even songbirds can have a nasty bite, and many may be infected with parasites. Capture by gentling draping a towel over the bird and then, using garden or work gloves, place it in a small box or container with a top ventilated with air holes. If a top is missing, cover the container with a towel. Once secured, avoid peering in at the bird as this will only induce panic. Do not give food or water unless you have been advised to do so by a licensed rehabilitator.
Use great caution in approaching the bird. Raptors have very sharp, powerful talons and strong beaks. Locate a heavy blanket or towel and be sure to wear gloves, heavier work gloves would be ideal. Raptors that cannot fly will roll onto their backs when cornered, so they can use their talons to fight off predators or captors. Toss the blanket or towel onto the bird and it will instinctively grab it with their feet. Cover its head because this will usually calm the bird down. Carefully and gently, slide the bird into a heavy cardboard box or container using a shovel, being sure to avoid causing additional injuries. If the container does not have a top with ventilation holes, drape it with a towel. Try to avoid touching the bird. If you cannot take it immediately to a rehabilitation facility, keep it in a dark and quiet place until transfer can be arranged.
These birds will use their beaks to stab at intruders. Great care needs to be taken when approaching any of these fish-eating birds. In these instances, it is best to call a rehabber for assistance.