What to do with an injured bird
What to do if you find an injured bird
The Sutton Center does not take in injured birds, but we have provided some information here that may help you if you do find an injured bird. Please be aware of the possibility of injury to yourself if trying to handle many species of birds such as hawks, owls, herons, egrets, or others. Sharp talons can cause significant pain, injury or infection, and heron beaks in particular can be dangerous, especially to eyes.
Collisions with windows kill many millions of bird annually. (Click here for more information.) Not every bird that collides with a window is actually killed, however. If you find a stunned bird after a collision and want to help, we suggest either leaving it alone, or placing it in a cardboard box at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. The dark environment of the box will reduce stress, and it is surprising how often stunned birds will recover well enough to fly off after a short recovery period.
One of the most common situations involves finding a bird on the ground that is too young to fly. Sometimes this can be due to a storm, but often it is a typical circumstance of fledging. Most songbirds leave the nest before they are able to fly. They spend several days to a week on the ground or in low vegetation while their wing feathers and flight muscles develop. Even though the adult birds may not be evident nearby, they are still feeding the young bird, and it is best to leave it alone. If cats are present, the bird can be placed on a nearby branch to get it off of the ground. (Cats, both pet and feral, take a terrible toll on birds and other wildlife and should be kept indoors at all times. (Click here for more information.) If the bird is so young that its eyes are still closed and it has down instead of growing feathers, it may be placed back in its nest if the nest can be found. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell, and despite popular belief, touching a young bird will not cause the adults to abandon it. If the nest cannot be found, see the next section below for contact information.
If you find an adult bird that is injured, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area. These individuals have the proper permits to provide care to injured birds. Wild birds are protected by federal and state laws, and unlicensed individuals may not possess them for any reason. Licensed rehabilitators also have the training and knowledge to care for and properly feed wild birds. One of the best known facilities in Oklahoma is the WildCare Foundation in Noble. Check with your state wildlife agency or local game warden for contact information regarding licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area. Here is a list of Oklahoma game wardens by county.