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What to do if you find an injured bird

The first thing to remember is that the sooner the casualty reaches experienced hands the better the prognosis will be.

1] Make sure that neither the casualty or you are harmed during the rescue by picking it up with a towel or something similar, even a jumper or coat will suffice. This bird does not know you are trying to help. So even if it is on its last breath it will try to defend itself from what it will perceive as danger. The bird’s beak will peck you but the bird’s feet are the real danger, as it will defend itself by trying to grab you. Believe me when I tell you, these will really hurt, even the small species will draw blood and the larger ones could cause you a permanent injury if you do not take great care.

2] Put the bird in a box or something similar to contain it, remembering to put air holes in it. If you have a towel or similar put it in the bottom of the box for the bird to grab hold of (not your favourite jumper or coat). If you cannot find a box then wrap it in whatever you picked it up with, and if you are in a car alone put it in the boot for your own safety.

3] Try to keep the casualty in the dark as this will help to stop it getting too stressed.

4] Please, please, please, refrain from opening the box to check on it, as each time it will cause the bird to get stressed and stress kills more wild casualties than the injuries they have received.

5] DO NOT try to feed it or give it water under any circumstances.

6] Try to find a specialist like myself to take it to.

7] If you cannot find specialist help, then take it to a local vet. Preferably one with a wildlife unit. Most vets do have contact with the appropriate groups.

So the key points are; take care when handling it, keep it in the dark and confined, leave it alone and get it to an expert as soon as possible.

What to do if you find a young owlet.
Most tawny owl chicks will, as soon as they can, leave the nest and climb out onto a branch or sometimes descend the tree and take up home at the base. This is perfectly natural, the parent birds will return at night with food, call for them and then take the food to wherever the chick calls back from.

If the chick is not in imminent danger from traffic or dogs and cats then it should be left where it is.

If the chick is taken in then this is a major problem, as it will probably imprint on the rescuer. These chicks will accept food readily from anyone and people think it is great to have this cute bundle of fluff to look after. Because the bird has been imprinted onto a human it will NEVER be suitable for release back into the wild and then a home has to be found or the bird will have to be put down.

Some rehabbers such as myself have birds we can use as foster parents but this is only viable if we receive the chick as soon as it is found. It is no good keeping it a week to let the kids show their friends and teachers, as the damage will have been done.

Once again, if you cannot find a specialist take it to a vet who will hopefully pass it on to a specialist.

A tawny owl is a protected species and you may be committing a criminal offence if you keep it or deliberately imprint it.

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