Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have birds available for adoption?

We frequently have domestic birds up for adoption. Many birds like ducks, geese, and more come through that need good new homes, and we look for the perfect placement for them.

Please complete our Adoption Form if you are interested in adoption.

Release sites for wild birds:

There are also many times when wild ducks/geese or song birds are ready for release and we need a good place to release them. If you own the land and you want your property to be used to release birds contact us at [email protected] and describe your property in detail. Ideal land has a pond or lake on it.

Want wild geese/ducks that will not migrate?

We often need placement sites for waterfowl that heal from injuries yet are now non-flighted. Those birds need a permanent pond where they can retire and call home. If you own property with a pond and meet certain other requirements, please let us know so we may place the waterfowl at your pond.
These are “maintenance-free” ducks and geese, so to speak. Although you do not legally own them (since they are still considered wild/migratory birds) you can enjoy them every day and feed them as if they’re your own.

Why do I have such a hard time finding help?

While there are many wildlife rehabilitators here in the Wilmington, NC area, there are few who possess a Migratory Bird Permit, also known as a Federal license. Only a federal permit allows you to care for wildlife birds. Therefore it is often hard for people to find such an individual because they are not exactly advertised everywhere. Most people don’t know they can visit and click on “Injured Wildlife” to look up a local rehabber by county. The rehabber listed in your county may not have a federal bird permit, but they should be able to give you the name and number of a nearby rehabber who does have a bird permit.

Why can't I just take care of the bird myself?

In order to be legally allowed to help injured or orphaned birds you must have a Federal Migratory Bird Permit – issued by the US Fish & Wildlife Service – as well as your state rehabilitator’s permit. It is illegal for someone without a license to keep or raise any wild bird. You are only allowed to keep a bird up to a few hours, and only while you are actively seeking a licensed individual to care for it. Baby birds can become imprinted within just a day or so, if not handled correctly by a rehabber with experience; this will permanently render the bird non releasable even if it has no injuries. If you do not have avian rehab experience you could misdiagnose the injuries which would lead the bird to suffer and eventually die. There are many bird injuries not visible to the naked eye, and unless you have had proper training you would not know what other signs of injuries to look for, like internal bleeding or head trauma. For this and many other reasons there are steep fines issued by the USFWS if you try to raise or rehab a bird yourself. If you want to learn about avian rehab we would rather you become one of our volunteers and learn the proper way to help the birds.

What kind of birds do you accept?

We accept all songbirds (i.e. mocking birds, cardinals, thrashers, titmice, wrens, cuckoos etc); waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc); shorebirds (seagulls, pelicans, skimmers, pipers, etc); wading birds (great blue herons, egrets, cranes, etc); waterbirds (loons, grebes, cormorants, etc), birds of prey & other raptors (owls, hawks, eagles, vultures, etc ); and any insect, fish or meat eating birds or “omnivore” type birds. Any non-native or exotic wild game birds like Turkeys, Pheasants, Quails, Peacocks, etc. are also accepted.

Who do we rescue?

We rescue all injured birds in and around the Wilmington area, and across North Carolina. Wild birds suffer from a wide range of injuries, illnesses or problems. Common injuries/afflictions birds deal with can range from: lead shot/gun shot wounds, swallowed fishing lead/sinkers, fishing hooks or wrapped in fishing line that cuts their tendons, eating rat poison, fertilizer, pesticides or other chemicals, trapped in glue boards, cat/dog attacks, impact with cars, broken wing/legs, poison, head trauma, torn bills on waterfowl (often from being fed fireworks), chemical burns, oil contamination, shot with arrrows, infections, and eye injuries.

Baby ducks/geese are often found in dumpsters and abandoned in ponds after people do experiments on them, or dye them for Easter entertainment. School biology teachers hatch them and send the baby chicks home with kids as pets, and the babies often get dumped when people no longer want to care for them. People often find injured/baby birds and keep them thinking they can fix the bird themslves instead of calling a licensed rehabber – this results in misdiagnosis and slow death, malnutrition or deformities for the birds.

We help injured birds get medical care and flight practice rehabilitation until they can return back to the wild, and offer permanent “retirement” sanctuary for those who are unable to return to the wild after their rehab recovery.

If I touch a baby bird, will the parents abandon it?

No, most birds have a poor sense of smell. However, most predators like snakes can follow your scent to a nest. If a baby bird fell out of it’s nest and you know with absolute certainty which nest the baby came from, you can pick up the bird and place it back in the nest – if you are able to reach it and can do so safely. The mother will return shorty, and chances are she is sitting nearby watching. Mother birds will not come to the ground to feed their baby or come to the nest if humans are standing nearby. They view us as a threat and birds instinctively will not go to the nest from fear of showing predators where the nest is. If you’ve placed the baby back in the nest, leave the area and observe from a distance (like through the window inside you house or somewhere out of sight) to see if the mother returns. It may take as long as 20 minutes for her to come back after which she will immediately fly off to go seek food for the baby. If no sign of a mother is seen after half an hour, you must let us know immediately so we can come help.

How do I keep hawks from attacking birds at my feeders?

Raptors are very good at finding areas that make it easier to find their prey. Songbirds are part of the foodchain just like other animals, and their predators are always going to look for the easiest target. Hawks normally go for the slow or sick birds at the feeders. The strong and healthy ones escape, allowing them to produce more healthy babies. Since laws protect raptors, people are not allowed to hurt or harm them. You may try putting your feeders under trees to give the birds a better chance of fast escape if a hawk makes its way near them. Songbirds maneuver much faster between limbs and branches than a raptor does, sort of like an obstacle course, they are better at fast short bursts of movements between trees.

I have witnessed someone hurting/killing protected birds, what should I do?

You should call animal control right away and report the incident, insist on pressing charges. Give as much information to the police about the individual as possible such as the license plate number, name, address or ANY information you have. You need to also call the Wildlife Resources Comission and the US Fish and Wildlife. It is against Federal Law, not to mention animal rights and Ethical laws to purposely injure a wild bird.

If you witness someone harming a pet bird or domestic bird like a pet Parrot or Duck, that is a domestic animal cruelty violation, call your local animal control to report it. If you witness someone harming a wild bird like a Hawk or Wild goose for example, that is a federal violation. In NC please call: 1800 662 7137. It is a felony to harm a wild bird, they are protected federally under the migratory bird treaty act and carries a fine of $25.000 per bird.