Helping a Wild Bird
Beth McMaster of Wildbird Recovery in Middlesex offers these guidelines for what to do with a wild bird that appears to need help:
To catch and pick up an injured bird, throw a pillowcase or towel over it and gently scoop it up with the towel or pillowcase over its head and around its body. Place the bird in a box and pull the towel or pillowcase off the bird to keep it from overheating.
If a baby bird that does not yet have its feathers is found outside its nest and is alert, warm and begging for food, return it to its nest. Contrary to popular belief, parent birds will not reject or abandon babies if they are picked up by a human and returned to the nest. Birds do not have a very developed sense of smell.
If a baby bird that does not yet have its feathers is unresponsive, appears to be injured or was caught by a cat, call a veterinarian or a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center immediately. Place the bird in a small, cardboard box lined with unscented facial tissue and place the box on a heating pad set on low. Do not give food or water.
Baby birds that have their feathers and are hopping on the ground with adult birds nearby have “fledged,” or are learning to fly. If the baby bird is alert, keep cats, dogs and people away for a few days. If the adult bird is gone for more than a few hours, call a veterinarian or a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center.
If a baby bird that has its feathers is too young to hop and appears uninjured, place it back in the nest.
If an adult bird can be caught, it is injured and needs help. Place the bird in a small cardboard box lined with paper towels and put it in a quiet dark place. Call a veterinarian or a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center immediately.
Any bird caught by a cat needs immediate help from a veterinarian or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Cats carry bacteria in their mouths that are deadly to birds.