Should you help an injured bird or should you just let it take care of its own wounds? For wild birds, an injury may need to be treated differently. Why? Unlike parrots or other caged birds, wild birds are not used to being with a human companion and could be jumpy, making it more difficult to care for them. That said, there may still be a need for you to rescue the bird so its injury can heal properly and it’s strong enough to care for itself again. Just in case you find one in your yard, here’s some information that could help you care for it more efficiently:
Basic First-Aid Tips
- The right way of handling it. Just as mentioned earlier, wild birds are not used to humans. But if you can’t capture it, you won’t be able to help it at all. For small birds or baby birds you can hold them with one hand, making sure that your grip is not too tight, allowing its head to poke out from your grasp. For larger birds, hold them with two hands, placing your hands around their wings to prevent them from flapping and getting away from you. If the injured bird is still very mobile, you can place a towel over the wings to achieve the same effect.
- Where to house it. After capturing it, you will need to place the bird somewhere comfortable. A cardboard box, lined with paper towel or soft cotton to keep it warm, should suffice. Closing the top of the box will prevent the bird from trying to escape, and the darkness will keep it from moving about. Keep the box in a quiet place and after an hour or two, see if the bird can fly on its own by placing the open box near the window. If not, you may need to care for it a little longer.
- Feeding needs. Since you can’t place your bird patient under IV therapy, it will need to get its nourishment from food. Baby birds are just like human babies, they will need to be fed multiple times per day, preferably every hour. For this, a toothpick or chopstick will be needed, depending on the size of the bird. Three to four mouthfuls for baby birds should be enough. Adult small birds are usually classified as seed or insect feeders and may need substitutions, depending on breed type. Take note that baby birds are not mammals and should not be fed milk.
Acceptable foods for baby birds:
- Moist dog food
- Raw liver
- Hard boiled eggs
- Dog biscuits
- Dog or cat kibble
What NOT to feed baby birds:
- Whole birdseed
- Pet bird food
Here is an informative article about feeding baby birds: What to Feed a Baby Bird – Or Should You Feed Them At All?
- Flying lessons are not needed. If you’re caring for orphaned birds, it’s natural to worry about their ability to fly, but do not attempt to forcefully teach them to do so. You don’t have wings and will not be an effective teacher in this area. Let the birds follow their own instincts…they will eventually discover that their wings are supposed to take them to greater heights.
- When to let it go. You found it in the wild, so let it grace the skies as it should. If it is now able to feed on its own and is able to flap its wings, then it’s time to release it to its natural habitat. Upon doing so, be sure that there are no grave threats to it such as cats or dogs. If it has not regained the full use of its wings, a very large aviary (or “flight cage”) would be beneficial if possible, keeping it protected while enabling it to practice its flying skills. Throughout this process, let the bird gain back its independence by not talking to it. This is to break any attachment it may have formed with you and to allow it to continue living without your support.
Common Bird Injuries and Treatment
Aside from simple scrapes, there are other types of bird injuries and each will require its own corresponding treatment. Here are some examples:
- Broken Blood Feather. A blood feather is a new feather growing out from the skin of the bird. The dark-bluish part of the feather is actually blood, hence it was named as such. When a bird has a broken feather, this can cause blood loss and can eventually lead to death. To stop the bleeding, simply pack it with flour. Then take the bird to a veterinarian so that it can be pulled out, stunting further bleeding.
- Animal Bite. Birds are desirable prey to cats and dogs. This is why pet owners are advised to use a leash when taking their four-legged pals on a walk…to prevent them from harming birds. When a bird is bitten, look for signs of injury such as a broken wing or bones. Wrap a towel lightly around both wings to prevent flapping which could aggravate the injury. Always take a bird to a veterinarian if it was hurt by another animal.
- Chills. Chilling can be caused by certain illnesses or can also be brought on by weather conditions. If it’s a warm day and the bird is showing signs of chills, take it to a vet for proper care. If it’s due to cold weather conditions, keep the bird somewhere warm, preferably 85-90ºF.
- Intoxication. A bird accidentally sniffed poisonous gas? The best cure is to move the bird to an open area where there is fresh air. If the contact with the gas was external, it will require bathing. Ingested poison, on the other hand, will need consultation with a vet.
- Minor wounds. Birds with minor wounds can be treated at home. First, clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide or betadine. To prevent infection, apply an antibiotic cream. The wound should be okay in a few days’ time.
Take note that when helping birds, you should also gauge if there is a need for you to exercise extra precautionary measures. Some birds have long sharp beaks and these could inflict harm on you. Yes, human instinct will tell you to pick it up right away but remember to use logical reasoning. Wear extra protective gear such as gloves or goggles if needed.
I hope that you have found this article useful. If you have any tips or resources you would like to point the reader too, please leave me a comment.
House Sparrow – Wikimedia Public Domain
Baltimore Oriole – Wikimedia Public Domain
Northern flicker bird – Public Domain Images
Guest Author Bio
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter.