Watching wild birds soar through the air or jump around feeders and baths is inspiring, but sometimes it can turn tragic when a bird is injured and in need of help. If you run across a bird in trouble, here are some steps you can take.
Stop and Observe
Don’t rush right in, even if the bird seems to be acting oddly. Many birds are killed because people intervene when they shouldn’t. Unless the bird is in immediate danger, such as on a busy roadway, watch it for a while to see if it recovers on its own.
When To Intervene
Signs that an adult bird may need help include visible injuries, such as broken beaks, flopping wings or legs, or large open wounds. While sitting still is natural and healthy for some birds, adult birds sitting motionless on the ground and letting you approach probably need help. If a bird hits a window and seems concussed, observe it for an hour or two to see if it recovers.
Call a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Birds are very fragile and hard to care for, so they need expert help. Attempting to rehabilitate a wild bird on your own may be illegal. Contact your local animal control, a state wildlife agency or a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance.
Prepare a Suitable Carrier
Don’t pick up the bird unless you have a place to put it. Use a cardboard box or a cat carrier lined with soft cloth or newspapers. Avoid wire cages, which can injure the bird.