Are you one of those people who can’t help but rescue when you find a bird in distress? If you are committed to saving them, without harming them further, this article is for you!
Take the time to observe before acting
If you notice a bird in a situation that seems abnormal to you, take a few minutes to observe the animal in its environment, without touching it, to make sure that the bird is really in danger.
First placed at a good distance from the bird, if you find that it remains alone too long, you can then approach to observe the bird more closely. If the bird shows obvious signs of weakness, not being able to stand on its legs, or injury, such as one wing still while the other flaps, or traces of blood, the bird should be taken care of in a wildlife preservation center.
Since most birds are protected, the law prohibits individuals from keeping and caring for wild animals. The only exception is for people who pick up an injured animal and transport it to a rescue center. If the circumstances lead you to keep the bird at home for a few hours, this must remain exceptional.
The most common causes of bird injury
Many birds are injured as a result of collision with an object, whether fixed, such as transparent glass, or moving, such as automobiles. These situations are well known and do not surprise you.
On the other hand, it is a much more frequent cause of injury for birds, which represents 40% of cases: the error of a charitable and benevolent soul who has done too much. Far too many people, full of good will and good feelings, are indeed acting too quickly. An animal on the ground does not necessarily need to be picked up.
Take the example of a baby bird on the ground. We often find this to be a critical situation. However, this situation is far from abnormal. His parents are probably not far away, looking for food, or waiting for a potential danger to move away to return to their little one. Without realizing that the potential danger is you! Moreover, a young bird is very fragile and its transport is a risk with a very fatal outcome, even though it was not necessarily in danger. This is why it is essential not to act without having taken the time to observe and reflect.
Certain species of birds, such as nocturnal raptors, including the tawny owl, or passerines, including blackbirds and starlings, have a habit of scattering their young on the ground: this is an essential learning phase, aimed at to familiarize their young with their environment. This is done under the supervision and guidance of the parents, who can also feed them at the same time. In the case of diurnal raptors, a young bird on the ground corresponds to a young bird abandoned by its parents.
We cannot stress enough the importance of having some knowledge of the wildlife around us. Without necessarily being very important, the ability to identify a species and know how it lives can promote the care of injured birds.
Tips for moving an injured bird
1 – Protect yourself
You may be surprised at this first tip to take care of an injured bird: it is about protecting yourself. Obviously, the level of danger is not the same between a sparrow and a raptor. Even weakened, a large bird can represent a danger for you. Do not count on the lucidity of the bird, imagine that it is aware that you are helping it. You represent a danger and he will do anything to defend himself to the end. Also, raptors will seek to use their talons, or waders, their beaks. You must therefore avoid injury yourself. It is important to use gloves and to be vigilant about the reactions of the bird.
2 – capture the bird with care
He should not be allowed to struggle, which could accentuate his injuries. Not being able to move as he wishes, feeling the danger hovering over him because of his situation, perhaps even in pain, the bird must first be calm before being seized. For this, a cloth placed delicately on it in order to plunge it into the dark has shown all its effectiveness. With your arms as outstretched as possible, you will then keep the wings glued to the body. The head should remain as much as possible under the laundry. Under no circumstances should tape or a rope be placed around its beak, as this could suffocate it.
3 – Place the bird in a comfortable nest
Take a cardboard box, line it with newspaper or old cloth. Ideally, the size of the carton will match that of the bird. It is as small as possible to prop up the bird, while still allowing it to stand upright. Drill the cardboard holes small enough so that the bird does not stick its beak through them. Then leave the bird alone. If you go to check on his condition, you can scare him to death.
4 – Contact the LPO or UNCS
If you are not the one taking the bird to the refuge and someone comes to pick it up, place the closed box in a room, quiet, in the dark, and at around 18 ° C. Indicate the top and bottom on the cardboard and write “Living animal inside – Handle with care – Do not open”. The LPO (Bird Protection League) or the UNCS (French Union of Wildlife Protection Centers) will be able to guide you in the possible actions to be carried out or the food to be given if necessary the time of arrival from a specialist. Do not dare to give the bird anything.
5 – Prefer associations rather than a veterinarian
If you entrust a bird to a veterinarian, he can certainly provide first aid, but the costs of the intervention will be at your expense.
6 – Your contact details
On a sheet of paper, indicate your contact details, the species of the bird if you have succeeded in identifying it, your observations concerning its injuries, the place, date and circumstances of the discovery, and tape it to the cardboard. It is important to be precise because this information will facilitate the care, but also the release under similar conditions.
Become a volunteer?
Composed of 57,000 members including about 8,000 active volunteers, the LPO is an association whose mission is to work for the development of environmental education, through various actions such as workshops, guided tours, conferences or exhibitions, and this aimed at various audiences.
This association is constantly looking for volunteers and offers various possibilities of action, in order to allow each person who wants to invest to find his place. So why not you ?