Orphaned and Injured Animals
It is likely that in your life you will find an injured or sick bird. It is an emotional experience that often leaves you wondering, “What can I do to help?”
First off, you have to make sure that the bird is actually injured. Sometimes a young bird will have fallen out of a nest early, or just recently fledged, but is still being faithfully cared for by its parents. Therefore, do not and pick it up! Rather, spend some time observing it from a safe distance and see if the parents come back to it; it may take a while, since adult birds may be gone for some time trying to find food for their young. If a bird is injured, it may simply need to rest and allow its body to heal itself, so by picking it up you are actually stressing it even more! If the bird is so injured that it cannot fend for itself, many times it will never be able to return and live a productive, natural life again. Most of the time, the best thing to do is allow nature to take its course.
If the bird is a nestling (having a sparse coat of feathers, unable to walk, fly, etc) you can try to find the nest from which it came and place it back inside. If it is a fledgling (with a full coat of feathers and is mobile), the best thing to do is place it gently into some form of cover, like a bush, so it won’t be out in the open for predators to find.
Never try to capture and care for a wild bird – it is illegal for you to have most bird species unless you are licensed to possess wild birds. If you find an injured bird, you can try to locate and contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for more information. However, keep in mind that these centers are often very busy, so calling about an injured grackle, dove, or sparrow probably isn’t the best use of their time.
When birds get injured in the wild, many times they are simply unable to function and survive in their natural environments. It is a sad truth that many birds die every day from cats, window collisions, getting hit by cars, and other human-based causes. While you may not be able to help that individual bird live on in a fully bodied manner, there are many ways to try to help prevent injuries from happening to others birds.
1) Keep your cats indoors. It is estimated that the median number of birds killed by cats annually is 2.4 billion. That number may represent more deaths than those caused by all other human-related bird deaths combined! If you have a cat, please keep it indoors – you can save many birds that way!
2) Safeguard your windows for birds. Millions (possibly billions) of birds are killed each year in window collisions. By safeguarding your windows, you can save many birds! Check out http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1184 for ways to help prevent bird window collisions.
3)Support your local nature centers and save native habitat. This is more of an indirect approach. By saving natural habitat in which birds are adapted to live, you can greatly increase the survival of the species. Donate time or money to your local nature conservation groups, plant native trees and shrubs in your yards. Raise awareness in your neighborhood, school, or workplace about birds and other wildlife. When you care about something, you want to protect it.