Raptors

Birds of prey can be found injured. Raptors in this area can be a hawk, eagle, owl, falcon or kite. There are also rehabilitators for vultures and herons.

Common ailments or injuries for birds of prey include:

  • Stunning or head trauma from flying into something
  • Electrocution from flying into power lines
  • Broken wings or unable to fly
  • Tilted head, walking in circles
  • Bleeding
  • Unable to stand
  • Missing feathers
  • Unresponsive
  • In immediate danger of being killed by a cat, dog, traffic, etc.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • They have maggots, off-white fly eggs in the fur (often very hard to see), and lots of fleas or ants on their body.
  • Orphaned juvenile birds that are unable to care for themselves. It is important not to kidnap wild juveniles if they are being cared for. Their chances for survival are higher with their mother than if handled by humans. The following information from Our Wild Neighbors is a good guide to help determine if the young bird has been orphaned:

First: Is the bird fully feathered?

Yes, Fully Feathered.
It is most likely a fledgling bird. Fully feathered baby birds are frequently found on the ground and are still being watched over and fed by one or both parents while it learns to fly and feed itself. As long as it appears to be uninjured, leave the area and keep pets and children away from the bird. The bird’s parent(s) will not return to the fledgling while people are nearby, but will return to give care when they feel safe. You will likely not see the parents if you are close by.
No, Not Fully Feathered.
An uninjured bird found on the ground with few or no feathers needs to be returned to the nest. Look around in trees and bushes to see if you can locate the nest. Before replacing the bird make sure it is warm. It is okay to touch a baby bird gently with your hands. The mother will not reject it if it has a human’s scent on it; however, a mother will not take back a cold baby.

Handling raptors is very dangerous

With large beaks and talons, they can cause serious harm and can lash out when injured. The following information from the University of Minnesota will give you tips on how to handle these birds.

  1. Safety comes first! Do not attempt to capture an injured raptor on a busy roadside, in water, or in other potentially dangerous locations. Protect yourself from sharp beaks and talons. You should always wear safety glasses and gloves. For small raptors, we recommend wearing wrist-length leather gloves; for medium-sized raptors we recommend mid-arm length welder’s gloves. Large raptors require extra protection and we do not recommend handling them unless you are skilled.
  2. Approach it slowly with a towel or blanket depending on the size of the raptor and only if you and the bird are both in a safe location. Make sure the blanket is hiding your face as you approach. You can take “peeks” as you get closer. What direction you approach will depend on your surroundings, as the bird may try to run or fly short distances away from you if it is able. For example, if the bird is facing a road or body of water, try to approach from the front so it will move in the opposite direction. If by moving forward, it will be cornered and easier to capture, approach from the back. A side approach will almost always result in a bird moving forward.
  3. Gently cover the entire bird with the towel or blanket, pin its wings to its body, lift it, and gently place it in a prepared transport container. Remove the towel or blanket as you let go. Remember: Even a seriously injured raptor is potentially dangerous. Wild birds do not understand that we are trying to help and will defend themselves. They are quite unpredictable, and you should be especially aware of their sharp beak and talons.
  4. Transport a raptor in a plastic dog or cat kennel, or in a sturdy cardboard box with the top closed. Avoid bird or wire cages, as these can cause feather and soft tissue damage. The carrier should have plenty of ventilation holes and should only be slightly larger than the size of the bird. The less room an injured bird has to move around, the less likely it is to cause more injury to itself. However, on the flip side, if a container is too small, a bird can sustain extensive wing and feather damage.
  5. Provide it with a dark, quiet, calm, warm environment until the bird can be transferred. Darkness has a calming effect on birds. Extra care should be taken to keep the bird away from children and pets. Do not keep a raptor any longer than is necessary before transferring it to a veterinary professional, raptor rehabilitator, or state/federal wildlife representative.
  6. Do not make any stops during transport. Like other animals, raptors can overheat quickly in hot vehicles or go into shock if they are injured and exposed to extreme cold. Also, do not play the radio loudly as this will add to their level of stress.