If you’re a birder like me, then you are likely attracting birds to your backyard or garden. Unfortunately, that also means you are increasing the odds of one day coming across an injured or sick bird. Fear not. You can be prepared for when that time comes.
I suggest first contacting your local veterinarian, humane society, or county/municipal wildlife agency for a referral to the nearest qualified wildlife rehabilitator. Write down that individual’s contact information should you need it in the future. Post it where you’ll remember to find it during an emergency. I keep my information with my bird food, that way I know where it is at all times.
If you find an injured bird, place the bird in a dark box and put the box in a warm and quiet place. Do not disturb the bird or offer it food. Do not try to nurse the bird back to health yourself. It’s actually against the law to keep a bird – injured, orphaned, or otherwise – unless you have proper permits. Also, injured birds will often require specialized attention to survive and be reintroduced back into the wild. So, keep the bird safe and let it rest until you can contact your nearest qualified wildlife rehabilitator that can take and treat the bird.
If you find a sick bird, do not handle the bird without disposable gloves, and keep the bird away from your family and pets. Have a box ready to hold the bird before you try to capture the bird as the capturing process may be traumatic for the bird. (It might be traumatic for you, too!) Make sure your qualified wildlife rehabilitator can take a sick bird, as not all clinics have facilities to isolate sick birds from the others.
If you have witnessed someone injuring or killing a bird, immediately contact your nearest US Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement office.
Sickness and injury can be terrible for birds, let alone terrifying for us. So, be prepared. Preparing for the worst is one way we promote the welfare of birds and their environment. This is how we practice positive birding ethics!