Taking the bird to the vet or wild bird rescue centre

Handling and Care 

Birds will usually be more comfortable with their wings held against their bodies; feet supported. Think about the size of the bird before you attempt to handle it:

  • Small birds: Can be firmly held in one hand, positioning the hand over the bird so that its head is between your fore and middle fingers, letting the rest of your fingers naturally wrap around the wings. Medium birds: Use two hands, each covering a wing.
  • Large birds: It is best to call an expert rescuer as larger birds can inflict some damage to anyone trying to handle them.

Taking the bird to the vet or wild bird rescue centre.

A cardboard box is suitable for transport and initial care of the injured bird. Choose an adequately sized box so that the bird can move around, line it with towels, kitchen roll or several layers of newspaper as this absorbs the bird’s excretions and offers a warm, soft, and secure environment. Place the patient in this ventilated cardboard box with a protective lid or a towel over the top, and place it in a cool, safe place. Keeping the bird in the dark helps reduce stress. Birds go into shock very easily when injured, and often die from the shock. For a source of heat, you can wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place it inside or next to the box, making sure the bird can get away from the heat if it wants to. If it begins to pant, remove the heat source immediately. Don’t offer food or water without being advised by an expert to do so.

You can fashion a donut shape out of a hand towel for medium-sized birds.


If you are unsure about what to do next or are unable to get the casualty specialist care within an hour or two, speak to a local bird rescue organization listed on our website for advice. Wildlife rescue services usually can’t offer pick up, so you may need to transport the casualty yourself.

Vets aren’t obliged to treat wildlife for free, and typically aren’t trained in the care of wildlife, so it is a good idea to call around local practices before visiting and find out if your vet has links with local wildlife rescue groups to make sure the bird is taken care of after being treated.

Make sure you wash your hands well after handling any bird!

David Pope – ABS Member

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