Photo of Kite

Rescue and Care of Birds

Birds of prey are our specialist species for rehabilitation. Ring for advice or assistance as soon as possible.

Many species of birds come into care, mostly as young fledglings or as a result of collisions with cars.

Species which require specialised care are the Raptors which include Eagles, Falcons, Hawks and Owls.

Concussion is the most common injury from window collisions, followed by fractures of wings. Some birds such as swift parrots, may fly into mesh perimeter fences like those around tennis courts. Other less common injuries are birds getting caught up on barbed wire fences, being electrocuted on power lines or being found in the mouth of a pet cat or dog.

What you can do for an injured bird

Place an injured bird in a box and keep it warm, quiet and dark. if it is concussed, sometimes it will recover and be able to be released in a few hours.

If a wing is obviously broken or torn, take the bird to professional care as soon as possible.

To discourage window collisions, leave the windows dusty, hang blinds/curtains, grow plants in front of them to stop reflections, or stick posters or stickers on the glass. Grow non-invasive native climbing plants over fences or cover them in hessian or shade cloth.

Native animals and birds that have been bitten by cats will need to see a vet and receive antibiotics as soon as possible. Bites may be hard to see, check for blood or saliva around the bird's neck or wings. Tail feathers may also be missing.

If you find an apparently abandoned chick or fledgling, stop and listen to see if parent birds are close by calling to it. Sometimes they will continue to feed and protect their young even when they are on the ground. Parent birds do a much better job of feeding their young than a carer can, so this option is always worth a try.

Try returning the bird to its nest. This is not always possible, particularly if the nest is sixty feet up a tree! Watch the bird for a while, to make sure it doesn't fall out again.

Sometimes, parents will throw a chick out of the nest, probably because they know instinctively that it is sick or too weak to survive. Whilst this may seem heartless to us, it makes good sense to nature. The parent birds are flat out feeding young, and they haven't got energy to spare on a chick that won't make it. In some cases, the other chicks will eat the weakling.

Swamp Harriers nest on the ground and fledglings can wander away and be found on roadsides. Do not pick these birds up unless they are obviously injured. The parents will continue to feed them and will do their best to protect them. If they are on the side of a busy road, try shepherding them under the fence back into a paddock.

Be careful of your own safety when stopping to assist.

Sea birds can sometimes be blown inland, or fledglings can be blown out of nests during storms. Whilst the animal is disoriented or concussed on the ground it is vulnerable to attack from predators.

Birds should be returned to where they were picked up. Some, like kookaburras, belong to family groups or others like owls have established hunting territories, and it is kindest to return them to familiar surroundings.

Birds with badly broken wings are usually euthanased as they cannot fly properly and this will limit their ability to avoid predators or to find food. Many birds, however, do quite well with only one leg. It is important to leave these decisions to vets or expert carers, as there are many things to consider when rehabilitating birds.

It is an offence to keep birds of prey without a permit.

Swamp Harrier Chicks, photo courtesy of Peter Tonelli Goss Hawk photo