What you should do if you find an injured bird

Animal experts advise you to pick up wild bird with gloves on, wrap it in towel

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Have you ever come across an injured bird and wondered what to do or who to call for help?

The process is different than handling an injured dog or cat, and you have to know who to call.

First off, animal control does not pick up injured wild birds. Second, you have to be careful because you can actually kill an injured bird while trying to help it. 

On Monday morning, my wife and I found an injured crow in our yard after it was attacked by a hawk. 

The crow could no longer fly and was barely moving. With time running out, we acted quickly. 

After learning animal control does not pick up injured wild birds, we discovered that a nonprofit organization called Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary, or B.E.A.K.S., rehabilitates injured wild birds.

B.E.A.K.S. instructed us to pick up the crow while wearing gloves, wrap it in a towel and place it in a box. Then we were told to drop the animal off at Hidden Hills Animal Hospital, which works with B.E.A.K.S. 

Lindsay Kipper, a veterinarian technician at Exotic Bird Hospital in Jacksonville, said the hospital receives calls every day from people who find injured birds. A baby pigeon was brought in Monday morning after it was injured in a dog attack.

"It's very common this time of year, and early spring, when all the babies start hatching out," Kipper said.

If you find an injured bird, Kipper said, there are things you can do to help it. 

“You can pick it up with some gloves (on). You can wrap it in a blanket and take it inside," she said. "The best thing to do is find a secure location. You can put it in a box or a kennel.”

Once the injured bird is secure, make sure it’s getting water to stay hydrated. But you have to be careful not to asphyxiate the animal because a bird's esophagus and trachea are close together.

“So, if you wanted to get some Pedialyte or filtered water, you can take a little oral syringe and just, very gently, drop by drop, put a little on the tip of the beak and then (let the bird) swallow, and continue doing that," Kipper said.

If a bird is severely injured but there is a sliver of hope it can be saved, you can take it to an animal hospital, where it can receive immediate treatment. 

If you do take an injured bird to an animal hospital, be prepared to pay for services to save the bird. 

If you take the bird to Hidden Hills Animal Hospital, staff will ask you to sign a form to release the bird to them so they can eventually release it to B.E.A.K.S. That option won’t cost you a penny, but B.E.A.K.S. will ask for a donation since it's a nonprofit organization. 

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