Temporary Care Instructions for Orphaned or Injured Birds
If you think the bird is orphaned or injured, please capture it and contain the bird. Please do not feed the bird any food, water or any liquids! When you force feed a baby bird, food or water, it can do more damage than good. Most baby birds are fine for almost 24 hours without food or water. For adult birds, leaving a shallow dish of water or proper bird food is fine.
Next, find a cardboard box or container. Punch small air holes in it so the bird can get air but cannot get out. Try to use a box appropriate to the bird’s size. A shoe box, a tissue box that you can tape a top onto or any other clean box with a lid works great. Then, call Help Wild Birds at (540) 342-4890.
Note: Cat-caught birds need rehab care immediately, even if you do not detect anything “wrong” with the bird. Cat saliva is deadly to birds. Puncture wounds in birds heal almost instantly, and they are not easily found. Birds do not bleed like humans or other animals do. Do not return cat caught birds to the wild. Call a wild bird rehabilitator immediately, as they need to have treatment ASAP.
Found a Baby Bird with Skin Showing
If you find an orphaned hatchling or nestling bird, it must be kept warm. How can you tell which birds need supplemental heat to stay warm? If you can see the bird’s skin, it needs to be kept warm.
A bird’s chance of survival decreases if it is not kept warm and remains cold to the touch. Birds that just have down or fuzz and are naked need their mother to keep them warm and incubate them. You can be that mother.
Place the bird in a tissue paper lined cup or make a paper towel nest, and place the cup in the bottom of a box. Keep the baby birds warm with a heating pad on low under the box, or a microwaved warmed sock filled with rice placed in the box near the bird. Keep the bird just warm to the touch, but not hot! Call ASAP for instructions.
Again, please DO NOT feed it or give it water. The most important action to take is to keep the bird warm until you can get it to a permitted bird rehabber.
Found a Bird with Feathers
For most birds that have feathers, just a paper towel-lined box works well. You can roll up a paper towel and make it into a circular perch or shape it into a “nest” and lay it on the bottom of the box.
If the bird is injured and needs physical support, place rolled paper towels or a rolled up clean cloth in a tight circle shape (donut) and place it in the box. Put the bird gently in the center. Try to make sure the bird stays upright and does not lie on its side if at all possible. This is good for window hit birds.
Keep the bird in a quiet place. Leave the bird alone; don’t handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away. Call or text Help Wild Birds at (540) 342-4890. If we do not answer, please leave a message and we will call you back. If you text, sending a photo of the bird will be very helpful. You can download and print these instructions here.