What to do with injured and orphaned wild birds

Manx BirdLife is not equipped or licensed to take injured or orphaned wild birds into care. If you find a wild bird in trouble, please follow the advice below.

1. Is the bird temporarily injured?

If a wild bird is found and is thought to be temporarily injured (e.g. dazed after flying into a glass window, with no visible injuries), put it somewhere safely out of the reach of cats and dogs and allow it time to recover.

Most likely, it will recover its senses and fly off after a short while. If after 30 minutes or so the bird has not flown off, an attempt can be made to recapture it.

2. Is the bird orphaned?

What might appear to be an orphaned bird (especially during the breeding season) will often have its parents hiding in the near vicinity. They will probably continue to feed the young bird, albeit waiting until any danger (such as the presence of people) has passed. Take time to ensure that it really is orphaned; check there are no agitated birds nearby.

If you are certain it is orphaned and cannot fly to safety, then an attempt can be made to capture it.

3. Take (or report) the injured or orphaned wild bird to your local veterinary practice

The vet will assess the injury and make a decision about its care.

All licensed vets are obliged to examine injured WILD animals free of charge and to decide on the best course of action. There is NO charge to the person who takes the animal to the vet, either for the initial inspection or future care.

The vet will make the necessary arrangements to euthanize the bird if its injuries dictate, or will request an appropriate welfare organisation to care for the injured bird.

4. If your local veterinary practice cannot be reached

If you are unable to contact or reach your local veterinary practice in good time, you can contact the Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) on 01624 851672. Please refer to the MSPCA’s advice relating to injured or orphaned wild animals.


A special note about Swifts
Common Swift (© Pete Hadfield)
Common Swift (© Pete Hadfield)

1. Feeding

There is a great deal of widely disseminated misinformation about caring for injured or orphaned Swifts.

Swifts are entirely insectivorous. Hence they must be fed only on insects. Despite advice to the contrary – even in otherwise authoritative publications – feeding meat, cheese, cat food, dog food, eggs or other non-insect food to Swifts is ultimately fatal.

If you are trying to rehabilitate a ‘fallen’ Swift please feed it insects, for example crickets, moth larvae, mealworms.

2. Releasing

If you are are attempting to help a rehabilitated or grounded Swift back into flight, do not throw it into the air. During fine weather, find a large open space, hold the bird in the palm of your hand, raise it high and it should go of its own accord.

A grounded Swift that refuses to fly when you try to release it should be put it in a box on some fabric, kept quietly in a warm dark place while you get in touch with a specialist in this field.

3. Swift contacts

Further advice is available at:

The MSPCA or your nearest wildlife hospital may be another source of help, but make sure they know that Swifts are insectivores.

For the UK, there is a list of people who can rehabilitate Swifts at http://swift-conservation.org/SwiftFirstAid.htm.

We wish to acknowledge that the information above about Swifts above has been sourced from the excellent Action for Swifts blog site, which we recommend you visit.

 


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