It can be stressful when you find an injured bird – for you and the bird! The best thing you can do is take the bird to a vet or contact your local wildlife rescue group.
A bird that is sick or injured will look or behave differently. It may be:
Most baby birds don’t need to be rescued. Some species leave the nest before they’re able to fly and spend time on the ground with their parents close by.
If attacked by a cat or dog, take the bird to a vet even if there’s no visible injury. Cat and dog saliva is toxic to birds and scratches can lead to infection.
Injured wildlife can be dangerous, especially when scared or stressed. Birds can also carry diseases.
Protect yourself and the bird by:
Do not handle large birds, such as owls and birds of prey – these birds have very sharp talons and can use them if they are scared or threatened. They must only be handled by trained wildlife rescuers.
Birds are often killed by shock rather than their injuries. Swift but careful action is a necessity as any delay can increase stress.
Cover the bird with a towel or blanket and pick it up gently but firmly. For medium sized birds you will need two hands – one over each wing.
Place the bird into a secure and well-ventilated box. Keep the box in a warm, dark room and try not to disturb it. This reduces stress and shock for the bird and is the best treatment you can give it.
Do not give the bird food or water as this could cause the bird to aspirate or delay any treatment it might need.
If possible, take the bird to a vet straight away. A vet shouldn’t charge you for bringing in wildlife.
If you can’t get to a vet or contain the bird yourself, contact wildlife rescue. They will give you advice and, depending on resources, may be able to rescue the bird.
Take note of where the bird was found so it can be released in the same location.
In Australia, you must be a licensed wildlife carer to rehabilitate wildlife. Birds often need specialist care and treatment. To give them the best chance of survival, get them to licenced carers as quickly as possible.
Conservation starts in your backyard. The plants that we choose for our gardens can provide most, sometimes even all, of the food, shelter and nesting resources that urban birds require. So when you are deliberating over which plants to add your garden, it’s useful to consider the following.
You may not know it, but there’s a lot you can do for Australia's birds from the comfort of your own home — from creating a bird-friendly garden to submitting a seasonal survey — you can make a difference by taking action in your own backyard. Find out more about the Birds in Backyards project.
Seasonal Birds in Backyards surveys are easy to do, only take 20 minutes, and provide useful information for protecting birds in our cities.