I Have an Injured Bird

How to help the bird you have found...

If you have found a bird in need of assistance and/or medical attention, take a moment and read through this page to determine the best plan of action to help the bird. If you have already been advised by your wildlife officer to bring it to the Sanctuary please contact the Ohio Bird Sanctuary in advance at 419-884-HAWK(4295).

Do not contact the Sanctuary by Facebook if you have an injured/orphaned bird, this page is not monitored regularly by bird care staff.

If you call before or after our business hours, please leave a voicemail and one of our staff will return your call as soon as possible.

All native birds are protected by state and federal laws. It is legal for you to rescue the bird with intent of transport to a licensed rehabilitation facility. It is not legal for you to possess a bird or other native wild animal for longer than 24 hours.

STEP #1      Does the bird need help?

If the bird is in need of help, it might :

  • Fallen from nest
  • Attacked by domestic pet
  • Struck by vehicle
  • Have a drooping or dragging wing or leg, and/or other obvious injuries.ave obvious injury
  • Only be able to do short, hopping flights.
  • Be unable to stand.
  • Not attempt to move away if you approach it. 

If the bird is difficult to catch, this is usually a good sign that the bird does not need help. If you are not sure if the bird needs help, please call us and we can help you determine what to do before attempting to capture and possibly endanger yourself or the bird.

STEP #2       If the bird is perceived to be orphaned....

Altricial birds (example: songbirds)  and partial altrical (example:raptors) birds have three main stages in development. Nestling, Fledgling/ Brancher and Juvenile.

NESTLINGS: A bird that is dependent on its parents for warm and nutrition a requires a nest structure for support.

If the baby bird does not have feathers yet or only has feathers on parts of its body, first attempt to find the nest that the baby may have fallen from.
If you are able to locate the nest, return the baby bird to it. Birds do not have a well-developed sense of smell and the parents will return to care for the baby even though you have handled it.

If you cannot find or reach the nest, or if the bird is obviously in need of help, please place the bird in a nest-like structure (such as a bowl or cup lined with paper towels) in a cardboard box and keep in a quiet, dark location.  Contact the Sanctuary as soon as possible; time is an important factor. Baby birds who do not have feathers need to be kept warm using a heating pad.  If the bird must stay overnight with you, please contact the Sanctuary for further instructions. Do not give food or water unless advised by a staff member.

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BRANCHER OF FLEDGLING: During the spring and summer, when many baby birds are leaving the nest and figuring out life as a bird, a bird may be on the ground but not in need of help. Fledgling birds who have left the nest are still learning to fly and may only do short, hopping flights. These babies have all of their feathers. Unless you see blood or an obvious injury, or the bird is in immediate danger, please leave it alone. Although these babies are spending most of their time on the ground, their parents are still feeding and caring for them. Again, if you are concerned but are not sure if the bird needs rescued, please call us.

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JUVENILE: During this phase of development the bird is capable of flight but still being provided food by the parent. These birds do not need rescued unless an obvious injury or illness is suspected. 

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STEP #3     How to rescue the bird

Once you have determined that the bird does need help, you will need to capture it. The technique with vary by species and individual situations. When possible contact the Sanctuary first before attempting to rescue. 

 

If it is a songbird:

Examples of songbirds include Blue jays, Robins, sparrows, doves, etc. Place a lightweight towel over the bird and scoop it up.  Place the bird in a cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

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If it is a raptor:

A raptor has a hooked beak and sharp, curved talons.  Examples include hawks, owls, and eagles.

A raptor will typically roll onto its back and try to strike with its feet.  Throw a large, heavy blanket or towel over the feet and head scoop the bird into a cardboard box or crate. Do not allow the bird to grab you with its feet.  Heavy gloves are advised.   

PLEASE NOTE: Until you can make arrangements to bring the bird to OBS, please keep the bird in the box in a quiet, dark location.  Do not give food or water unless advised by a staff member. (Exception: If the bird is a hummingbird, you may offer it a sugar water solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts water). These birds have very fast metabolisms and need to eat every 20-30 minutes.

Let us help you find the right rehabilitation facility for this animal

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is licensed to rehabilitate native raptors and songbirds. We do not accept mammals, reptiles, amphibians, game birds,  waterfowl, domestics (including pigeons) and exotics (Example: parrots). If you find an injured animal that falls into one of these categories, please check out the links below to find a qualified rehabilitator or facility near you.

List of licensed rehabilitators

List of Ohio wildlife officers

Ohio Division of Wildlife district offices

You may also visit the website for the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.   http://www.owra.org/

NOTE: We also do not accept House/English sparrows or European starlings. Both of these species are nonnative and invasive, having been brought over from Europe. They displace and bully our native songbirds. If you find one of these birds, we cannot accept it for care but we may be able to provide you with information on how to proceed. 

 

Pigeons

Pigeons are often released at weddings and different events, or they are used for racing. If you find a pigeon that seems unable to fly, lethargic, or is just hanging around your home, it is most likely uninjured and simply in need of food, water, and rest. After a few days of rest and care, the bird should be ready to leave and will find its way back to where it belongs, or will become part of a local flock.

Offer the pigeon food (seeds) and a shallow dish of water. If possible, you may catch the bird and keep it in a box, bird cage, or pet carrier to protect it from cats and other possible predators.

If the pigeon has bands (small metal rings with letters and numbers on them around its legs), the bird is registered and you may be able to locate its owner. You may call the phone number below and/or visit the website to find out more information.

Phone number: 405-848-5801

Website

If the bird appears to have an obvious injury, you may call OBS at 419-884-4295 for more information on what to do. The Sanctuary cannot accept pigeons for care but may be able to provide you with information on how to proceed.

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