What to do if you find an injured/sick bird - check here first

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Holly
Holly's picture
What to do if you find an injured/sick bird - check here first

From our FAQ's:

Birds are very good at hiding illness and so when we find a sick bird it usually means it is very sick. Sick birds often look; fluffy and hunched when it isn’t cold, weeping, puffy eyes, or crusty eyes, dirty and matted or missing feathers, visible wounds or injuries.

A healthy bird will generally be behaving as others of the same species do, however birds that are behaving oddly might be unwell or injured. They may be unable or reluctant to fly, making shallow, rapid breaths, head tilting, limping, not moving when approached or sitting in unusual, open places. Often other birds will also attack an unwell bird.

If you do find a bird that is sick or injured, contact your local Wildlife Rescue group and, depending on resources, they may be able to come and collect the bird themselves directly or will provide you with advice based on the situation you are describing. Being captured is a very stressful experience for a bird and so steps need to be taken in order to minimize that stress.

A bird must be handled gently but firmly (and wear gloves where ever possible). For small birds, use one hand and hold the bird so its head is between your index and middle fingers. The rest of your hand will wrap about the body. For medium sized birds you will need two hands – one over each wing. Large birds like raptors and owls have large beaks and claws so avoid handling birds of this size if at all possible.

Put the bird into a well ventilated box and keep it dark and quiet while you get treatment for it. This reduces the stress and shock for the bird and is the best treatment you can give it. Don’t feed the bird or give it water. Only people with the appropriate wildlife carers licence are legally allowed to look after wild birds so the next step is to get it either to a carer or to a vet – preferably one who has experience with wildlife and/or birds as soon as possible. A vet will not charge you to bring in wildlife.

Here are some contact details for Wildlife Rescue Groups:

New South Wales: Call WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service) on 13 000 WIRES or 1300 094 737, or Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service Inc. 9413 4300.

Queensland: Call Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 1300 130 372 (state wide referral service) or ARROW (Australian Rescue and Rehabilitation Of Wildlife Assoc Inc) on 0430 904 415

Victoria: Call Wildlife Victoria on 13 000 94535

ACT: Call ACT Wildlife (http://www.actwildlife.net) on 0432 300 033)

South Australia:  Call Fauna Rescue of South Australia Inc on (08) 8289 0896

Tasmania: Call Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary on (03) 62681184 or mobile 0447264625  

Western Australia: Call the Wildcare Helpline (08) 9474 9055

Northern Territory: Call Wildcare Inc on 08 8988 6121 or Wildlife Rescue Emergency Hotline 0409 090 840

Note: Australian Fauna Care  also provides a comprehensive list of wildlife rescue groups from around the country.

These organisations will give you advice on what to do until a trained rescuer comes to take the animal to a vet or foster carer. The foster carer will look after the animal until it is ready to be returned to the wild.

Qyn
Qyn's picture

Hi Holly, thanks for this information. ;)

Alison
~~~~~~
"the earth is not only for humans, but for all animals and living things."

Wollemi
Wollemi's picture

Our local vet treats injured or ill native birds for free. He also gives advice on good handling and feeding methods and gives you a choice to care for the bird or for him to give it to wires.

So far I have taken many birds to him, and have only felt competent looking after two of them, a baby galah with a chest infection, and very very young baby lorikeet. The galah's parents came every day to feed the baby in a secluded spot in the garden when time came for him to go he flew off with his parents.

The lorikeets parents came to feed him only once. They visited daily for a few weeks then occassionally for a couple of weeks. they haven't visited for two weeks now. Now we face the issue of do we return this lorikeet to the wild where he may not be accepted by his family or other lorikeets... or do we keep him and continue to care for him? He has just reached fledgling stage. I had calculated his age at about five to six weeks when I found him, and fledgling stage is about 10 - 11 weeks. We have had him for about 8 weeks so my original calculations were out by a long shot. He would have been only two weeks when I found him in the yard.

advice on survival rates of birds found so young surviving in the wild would be helpful... we do have a lot of lorikeets that visit the yard but I also know they can be viscious to birds they do not know...

Regards

Cheryl

One Beak
One Beak's picture

Hi Wollemi

If that vet is in Sydney I would love a contact number.

Most vets will treat injured wildlife for free as part of a Government program. However I have not had Much luck with local vets. I have taken four lorikeets in for treatment and unfortunately all had to be put down. It seems if they deem the injury will not enable them to fend for themselves in the wild they get put down. 2 of the ones I have taken in were quite seriously I'll and I understand that was best for them, but the other two were runners, who I would have gladly cared for. It broke my heart that they were put down.

Karen
Karen's picture

I had an experience where I took an injured lorikeet to the vet, and they just took him from me and killed him.  No options, nothing.  When I spoke again to them, to see how he was, they tried to tell me he would have to be put down, but when I said I'd take him to another vet and would come and pick him up, they had to admit they'd killed him.  I don't believe they even examined him.  The little fellow came for help and I felt I'd betrayed him and was dreadfully upset.  I really laid into them saying I should have at least had the option of taking him elsewhere for another opinion at least.  They finally informed me I had no say, they had the only say on the subject.  I took it further to the Dept. Wildlife, but I was doing no more than venting really as it was too late anyway.  This was years ago, but I never quite got over the trauma of what they did.  One problem is that most vets are not avian vets, and the bottom line is, they don't know how to treat injured birds unless its very basic, so they will kill them.

Cheryl, I have been lucky enough to find carers that will wait until they have a small flock of recovered birds then release them as a flock.  Many such birds will not be able to fend for themselves and will seek out any human willing to feed and "adopt" them.  I've seen a flock of about a dozen that all turned up in my backyard, and it was obvious they were used to people to some degree.  About half were killed by cats, and a couple by cars.  The few that survived are now bringing in their babies to visit.  Life isn't that easy for them out there.  I generally just leave the cage door open when I think they are recovered, and let them come and go as they please.  There are enough wild birds here that visit and get to know any caged bird I have so they are not total strangers when they are released.  Eventually they will find a mate and I may not see them again, or they may drop in once in a while for a visit.  I do note though that the females are more readily accepted into a flock.

Karen
Brisbane southside.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

This is another very sad event, that upset me immensely. Yesterday in Gembrook I saw this beautiful Flying Fox hanging on a powerline, (not that that would have mattered to him). It was clearly alive, but one of his wings seamed to be injured. The local vet was just around the corner, but not in. The vet nurse(?) was as useless as a brick, stating what do you want me to do, I can't help it. When I told her you could ring Wildlife Victoria, or one of the local carers. She said, I can give you the number. I've got that number, so I left and rang everyone I could think of. Questions: is it insured? Yes I think it is. Can it fly?  I don't know that. on and on this went around and around in circles. We will send someone out to have a look, but we don't know when. Anyway, it might fly off, when it gets dark.

No, it didn't !!! This morning it was still hanging there, DEAD. I have failed this beautiful animal, I am so sorry.

M-L

Karen
Karen's picture

I remember trying to get help for a swan once.  Though no one came, fortunately the swan survived.  It does feel like you've let them down, even though it was in fact the system (or lack of it) that failed.  I ended up ringing around Dept. Wildlife, local vets, RSPCA, for any info I could keep on tap for any future event.  Even the police and fire brigade if you can't get any answers.  In the end, the only supportive people I found were wildlife carers.  By calling them in, you may find they have contacts themselves for rescuing birds and animals.

So the little flying fox could either be a sad story, or a catalyst to get information for the future and to share with others.  You could end up having the tools at your fingertips to save the next creature you encounter that is in trouble.

Karen
Brisbane southside.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Thanks so much, I do have all those numbers, I have had a few experiences with all the possible help you could think of.  You are right, most likely help comes from Wildlife Carers. One came out for a Koala that was very malnourished and had a Baby. (Wildlfe Victoria left me in the bush next to a tree in the dark , waiting for them in my car for 2 hours. They never turned up). A Wombat with mange, blind and deaf, nobody came to shoot it, I found a nice neighbour who did. Do people really care? I'm not so sure anymore? Too many bad experiences.

M-L

Karen
Karen's picture

Too many people don't have any feeling for bushland creatures, this is true.  But wildlife carers are a different breed, and in them I've found more help than anywhere else.  I can't compare much though as we don't have bush here as such, just parks and the odd reserve.  Even vets can be tough.  No money helping a wild animal.  Easy to wring the slender neck of a helpless bird.  Wildlife rangers, well, I've had my run in with them trying to play their power games with threats.  Its a hard world but if more would stand up against the hardness, maybe something might change.  I live in hope.  You are on the side of right so never feel guilty.  Everything dies.  Its giving it all a purpose that makes the life worthwhile.

I will never forget Sam, the koala.  While she was worth money via donations to those that cared for her, she lived.  When the funds ran out, strange how she didn't last.  I'm afraid I find her death suspicious despite the "reasons" they gave.  A lot of people will never forget Sam.

Karen
Brisbane southside.

Correa
Correa's picture

If you feel strongly about helping birds and wildlife, consider joining the tree project and help re tree private land.  My daughter and I just raised 7 boxes of indigenous trees and bushes, that's 336 plants destined for habitat. : ) Plus she wreckons I just offset our carbon footprint for a year!  Included were manna gums a great source of food for koalas.

Woko
Woko's picture

'on ya, Correa. What's the name of the project, by the way?

Correa
Correa's picture

Thankyou Woko, just google TreeProject.  My daughter works for Landcare Victoria and she got me into it.  It is a bit or work but very satisfying.

Correa
Correa's picture

I just remembered here is my daughter with some of the boxes, they are ready to go to the coordinator.  (2 boxes around the corner in the shade to stop them growing so well!).

Araminta
Araminta's picture

That's great Correa, Your daughter is doing something for the environment. I have done a lot for the environment, don't want to list any , but I have been part of groups long before other people even thought of doing something. Makes me happy to see though, that after being an Activist for so many years, (including getting arrested and laughed at), some of the things I faught for 20 years ago are now maintsream.Organisations like Friends of the Earth,, Green Peace , the Wilderness Society etc. (all of those I have been an active member off).  The problem of certain organisations that have written it on their flags to help injured wildlife, repeatedly not to turn up to rescue animals, has nothing to do with planting or propagating trees, (although that is very good!!), it is neglecting suffering wildlife.

Tell your daughter, what she already knows, I thank her from the bottom of my heart, for working to achieve what I faught for so many years ago.

M-L

Araminta
Araminta's picture

That's great Correa, Your daughter is doing something for the environment. I have done a lot for the environment, don't want to list any , but I have been part of groups long before other people even thought of doing something. Makes me happy to see though, that after being an Activist for so many years, (including getting arrested and laughed at), some of the things I faught for 20 years ago are now maintsream.Organisations like Friends of the Earth,, Green Peace , the Wilderness Society etc. (all of those I have been an active member off).  The problem of certain organisations that have written it on their flags to help injured wildlife, repeatedly not to turn up to rescue animals, has nothing to do with planting or propagating trees, (although that is very good!!), it is neglecting suffering wildlife.

Tell your daughter, what she already knows, I thank her from the bottom of my heart, for working to achieve what I faught for so many years ago.

M-L

Correa
Correa's picture

I always knew you were a wildlife warrior Araminta!   Great to hear of your bravery, I doubt I could have been so pro active. Well done you!

Woko
Woko's picture

Your daughter looks very proud of your joint efforts. And rightly so. It is extremely satisfying to raise boxes of seedlings that are going into the ground somewhere to create wildlife habitat & increase production on farms.

I've often wondered if there were organisations in other states the equivalent of Trees for Life in SA. Victoria obviously has one in TreeProject. Great stuff! It does my heart another power of good.

Wollemi
Wollemi's picture

Here I am a couple of years later getting back to this thread!

Wow, in that time I have joined a wildlife rescue group, met some mighty wonderful people, and had experiences good and bad, from my experience so far I can say that wildlife rescue groups have to abide by policies as laid down by the National Parks and Wildlife which are not always easy policies to follow, but in the long run many of them make hesense.

The government contributes no money to the rescue rehabilitation and release of native animals.

The rescuers and carers do what they do often at their own expense and while public donations to organisations mean some costs are kept at a minimum it is still very expensive and time consuming for the volunteers.

Sometimes when you ring a rescue service about an animal the response will be quick and good, other times it will take a long time, no carers are authorised to rescue an animal from powerlines. That can only be done by the relevant power company and only if they have the staff to do it. So if you see an animal on powerlines you can ring the power company and tell them their product has injured an animal and you want them to do something about it. Let them know you have a picture of it and you do not understand why all powerlines are not underground where these sorts of injuries would not happen.

When you see a flying fox on a powerline there is a chance it is a mumma and she may have a baby on board. So even if mumma has died she may have a live baby that can be taken into care and released when it has healed and reached the appropriate age.

If there is not baby visible it may be tucked up onder mums wing or it may have dropped on the ground below so please do look on the ground below. Mums carry there bubs for between 3 and 5 weeks after which time they leave them in the colony atnight when mum goes out to feed.

If you ever find a bat, whether a microbat or a flying fox please do not handle it there is a slight chance it may have a disease that can be passed to humans so please call a wild life rescue group, or rspca and in the meantime if the bat you have found is tangle in barbed wire or fruit netting you could drape a towel or something similar over it to protect it fom the sun, dehydration and stress are huge killers of wildlife.

again if there is a bat on barbed wired or in fruit tree netting then there might be a baby on the ground beneath it or lower in the tree. Do look for the baby and likewise shield the baby from the sun if you can.

The vet that I referred to in my earlier post is a vet in Richmond, NSW.

I hope I have helped give some better idea of the situation and if you want to help native wildlife planting native gardens always helps, supporting organisations that do what you know is right is another great way to help, and you can always ring your local wildlife rescue group and find out how to join.

Papillon garden
Papillon garden's picture

Hi, I came across a fledgling minor 'mickey' bird this morning that had been bumped by a car. It had only just happened so I stopped and rescued him from the middle of the road - no obvious 'blood' but he was moving his legs just unable to fly away or walk, so I took him to local vet in a ventilated cardboard box (always keep in car for this type of thing). Vet gave him the ok, i.e no visible signs of injury ie broken wing or leg and suggested I return him to where I found him so the parents can get back to him. I did this, released him on the footpath near a property but near the base of trees.. he seemed to be walking one-sided but keen to move away from me so I sat in the car and watched him (petrified he'd end up back on the road). He managed to jump up into a small bottle brush shrub that was next to gutter and sat on one of the lower branches. Definitely doesn't seem able to fly, just jumps up in air and flaps wings but can't take off... I left him in the tree and went back a few hours later - he was still there, eyes closed, but stretches legs and wings on occasion. Doesn't seem to be making a noise so I'm unsure if parents can find him. He's now on a higher branch but no sign of parents. Not sure whether I should leave him there or try to catch him (risk him flying back on road). If I leave him, he might end up back on road anyway.  Am at a total loss as to whether to leave to mother nature or intervene. It will be dusk soon... so I'm a bit paranoid about cats etc. Any advice greatly appreciated.

Papillon garden
Papillon garden's picture

Hi, I just saw this post and I'm inclined to agree with you - not a lot of people do care and it pains me greatly knowing this. I see (and I now keep a diary) road kill and injured animals EVERY single day out where I live - I'm constantly taking them to the local vet for appropriate action (where alive or dead). It's the least I can do.  What's amazing is often animals are outside houses - houses that people drive into morning and night and not once do they attend to the injured or dead wildlife on their property. It's sick. but I'm heartened knowing there are others out there like me from what I see on forums like this.  We can't make a difference to all of the animals but we can make a difference to some of them.

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