Bird Information: An Overview

What can I do to help an injured bird that I find?

If you find an injured adult bird, or an orphaned baby bird, put the bird in a quiet, warm, dark place away from pets, people or other noise or stress factors. Do not let children or others handle the bird. Birds may seem “calm” or “relaxed” because they sit very still but that is a survival response, it does not mean they are happy. Some species can actually die from stress so keep the bird very quiet and minimally disturbed. Do not force any food or water on the bird. Most injured birds dont want to eat or drink anything. Call us immediately for further advice and bring the bird in right away for medical attention before it’s too late.

I found a duck or goose all alone, what can I do to help him?

As long as the bird is not injured, stranded or sick in some way, you should just leave him alone. If it’s a domestic duck or goose and does not belong to someone already, it will need to be placed at a home where someoe will be willing to care for them and provide food and water. If its a wild duck or goose, often they may seem “alone” but often times there is a mate nearby sitting on a nest. Males defend the “nest territory” vigorously while the female incubates the eggs. The male sits away from the nest to avoid attracting predators directly to the nest. It takes about 28 days for eggs to hatch, so it’s not unusual to find males in parking lots, medians, or other strange places. You can try approaching the goose slowly. If he stands up on both legs, is not limping, and does not seem to have any obvious injuries or a dragging wing, then he is fine. If there are no injuries we will not move them. As soon as the eggs hatch they will move on. If you have found a gosling that is still covered in down feathers and you know with certainty that there is no mother around, and that the baby is truly alone, contact us immediately so we may help. Please note: it is against State and Federal Law to keep the gosling and raise it yourself.

There is a duck or goose nesting in a dangerous place:

You will need to contact us so we may evaluate the situation to determine if the nest and parents need to be moved to a safer place. Ducks and geese have adapted to our city life quite well. In order to find a safe nesting place away from people they generally go where people will not. This means you will find them on awnings, roofs, freeway medians, and parking lots. There is a large volume of these nests in and around Wilmington and in most cases we can not move the nests. The birds are protected by federal laws and Fish and Wildlife doesn’t allow relocation. In some severe cases where there is a danger to humans or immediate danger to the birds we will consider relocating them. Placing a trap around them is illegal and will often result in a predator cornering the mother inside the trap and killing her. In these situations please email the details to info@skywatchbirdrescue.org and we will do our best to help.

There are ducks in my pool:

If they are wild ducks you are not allowed to shoot or injure them in any way. Also ducks that land in the pool often can’t get out and they become trapped. You will need to shoo them off, it is not good for ducks to drink water containing chlorine. Call us if you need advice on how to do this.

I found a baby song bird. What do I do?

If the bird is in an unsafe spot like near a parking lot or in the open where hawks can spot him, move the bird under the nearest bush or tree. When the mother returns they will find each other with their calls. Only baby birds that cannot hop, fly or feed themselves, and cannot be returned to the nest safely should be brought to us. We also have ways of making substitute “nests” to place the bird in up in a tree where the mother will find it and continue to care for they baby. If you can determine that it’s definitely a baby bird and have no idea where it came from call us ASAP. Also if the bird has ANY sign of injuries or has been in contact with a cat in ANY way it will need to be brought to us (cat germs are like kryptonite for birds). They will die from even the smallest cat scratch due to infection. We will advise you on what to do for the bird until it is in our care.

I found an injured hawk, owl or other raptor what can I do?

Birds of prey have very sharp talons and strong beaks that are able to severely injure your hands if you try to pick them up. We DO NOT encourage you to try and catch an injured raptor yourself. If possible, throw a towel, sheet, or light blanket over the bird to keep it from getting away until we arrive. Call us immediately, we will come out to collect the bird. If possible wait by the bird untill we (or any other federally licensed rehabber) arrive to capture and treat the bird. No one without the proper safety gear and experience should ever try to catch or pick up an injured raptor.