If you're a pet owner and your animal gets sick, you know right away that your vet is there to help. Sometimes, though, you might find an injured or unwell wild animal and be unsure of what to do. Although there are relevant charities that can help, they're often very busy, with limited resources, so you can also call on your local veterinarian in this situation. If you're going to do this, though, it's important to know how to handle the animal safely.
Birds tend to be the most common injured animal people find. This is because they're prone to flying into power lines, windows and vehicles, and also get attacked by domestic cats and dogs. Follow these tips if you find a wild bird in need of medical help.
Contact the vet in advance
As early as you can, call your vet's office to let them know you've found an injured bird. They can give you extra advice, and may need to recommend a different vet if they're too busy or don't have the expertise needed to treat a wild bird. Since it's an emergency, you may be able to get an appointment quickly if you call up with enough time.
Handle with care
Birds are delicate creatures, and they may also attack when frightened, so careful handling is important for both of you.
Wear thick gloves if you have some, and scoop the bird up gently rather than grasping it. If it's a large bird, watch out for the powerful wings, as they can easily hurt you in a panic.
Handle the bird as little as possible to avoid further injury and stress.
Wild birds have very specific diets, so don't feed them anything unless you're an expert in the needs of the particular species. The wrong type of food can cause poisoning or make the bird's condition worse, and it will be fine without food for a little while.
Prepare a quiet place
The bird should be placed into a box or pet carrier with a soft towel or blanket for warmth, and make holes for ventilation if necessary. Keep it in a dark, quiet room, and leave it in peace. Make sure any household pets are kept well away from where the bird is resting.
Transport the animal carefully
When it's time to go to the vet's, transport the bird in the same container it's resting in so you don't need to move it again. It's helpful to have someone with you to keep the carrier steady in the car, and when you arrive at the vet hospital, wait outside until it's time for your appointment. This helps avoid the noise and stress of the waiting room.