Adult Bird Emergency
The following are potential indications that a wild bird may be sick or injured:
- The bird is quiet with closed eyes and fluffed feathers (the bird looks “puffed up”).
- It has an obvious wound, broken feathers, drooping wing(s), breathing problems, or an inability to stand.
- Swollen eyes, wet/crusty eyes or mouth, or nose discharge.
- Feathers that are covered in oil or unnatural sticky substances.
- It does not fly away when approached. Learn how to tell if a bird that doesn’t fly away is a fledgling (a young bird learning how to fly that should be left alone).
What happens to birds that hit windows? Sadly, the bird often dies, even when it is only temporarily stunned and manages to fly away. Window collision survivors that are feisty and outwardly look unhurt may have severe injuries. Injuries can also develop or worsen without medical treatment. These birds often require anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling in their brain, medicated eye drops for painful abrasions on their eyes from the collision (called corneal ulcers), and pain medication for the bruises or lacerations on their bodies. Some will have fractured bones or beaks which require time to heal. Many of these wild birds must stay in care for several days or weeks as bones repair, bruises heal, and muscles get stronger. When possible, please take window collision birds to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
- Find a towel, blanket, or light weight material that will completely cover the bird. Also, find a well ventilated box or plastic pet carrier. Line it with an absorbent material like newspaper, paper towel, or a sheet. Please do not use towels or material with holes as the bird can get caught in it and further injure itself.
- Remember that the bird sees you as a predator and will try to defend itself with its beak. This is a normal defensive behavior so please be careful and don’t take it personally!
- Approach the bird from behind and completely cover it with the material. Remember if the bird is alert it will struggle.
- Gently restrain the bird under the material and hold its wings against its body.
- Place the bird in your well ventilated cardboard box or plastic pet carrier.
- Please DO NOT FEED or OFFER WATER to the bird as it can aspirate or choke on what is offered. Injured birds need to be rehydrated gradually and fed special foods and formulas so attempting to offer food and water can jeopardize the birds survival.
- Be aware that the bird is very frightened. The bird may be injured; it is in an unfamiliar situation; it is being separated from its mate or flock; and is being held by a large predator (you). The bird is not aware of your good intentions. Do not hold the bird any longer than you need to. Don’t stare at her, try to examine her, or attempt to assess her injuries. Please handle them as little as possible because they will be frightened, not comforted, by being “petted.”
- Keep the bird in a dark, quiet, calm, and warm place to reduce stress until the bird can be brought to a licensed rehabilitation facility.
- Keep the box or carrier covered and on the floor or seat of your car.
- Keep the car quiet (no radio and quiet voices) and warm to reduce stress.
- Do NOT let a child or other individual hold the bird in transport. It is a safety risk for the person, as well as extremely stressful for the bird. Please think first about the well being of the bird in your care.
Remember your safety is the most important factor. Do not unnecessarily put yourself or others at risk for injury while attempting to rescue or capture an animal. When in doubt call the Wildlife In Need Center (262) 965-3090.
How to help prevent window collisions:
Birds fly into windows because they see reflections of the outdoors and see inviting vegetation to perch on or open space to fly in. You can help by going outside and looking at your windows from a bird’s point of view. If you see branches or sky reflected in or visible through the glass, that’s what the birds will see, too. Try adding window decals or getting creative with tempera paint or washable markers to let these birds know that something is there!
How to prevent diseases:
Birdfeeders are a breeding place for disease. Clean your birdfeeders regularly with a mixture of soap and water or a bleach solution, making sure to rinse them well. You will want to clean your birdfeeders every other week or every time it empties to ensure disease and bacteria are not being spread through your feeder. If your birdfeeders are overcrowded, consider spreading out your feeders or putting up additional feeders to lower the excessive use. If dead birds are found, remove feeders for at least two weeks and thoroughly clean feeders and areas under feeders.