First be sure to carefully observe the bird of prey from afar to be sure that the bird is in fact in need of help. In the late spring many young birds will be 'fledging' the nest and learning to fly. If this is the case, mom and dad are nearby still feeding the young, and there is no need to intervene. The young birds typically only spend a day or two on the ground before figuring out how to fly.
Signs a bird of prey may be in distress include:- sitting on the ground
- if they do not fly away when you approach
- if they are 'puffed up' and/or have squinty eyes
- if their wing/s seem to hang droopily
- they have growths, masses or lumps on their feet or face
- if they have obvious wounds or look bloody
- if the bird is tangled or entrapped in garbage, twine or fishing line.
If you observe a bird with any of these signs they may be in need of medical intervention.
Restrain the Raptor If you can safely approach the bird of prey with a towel or blanket, you can gently wrap the blanket around the bird to restrain it. You can put the blanket over their eyes so that they cannot see- this will help keep the bird from overstressing. Be cautious not to squeeze the bird's body too tightly as it can suffocate. You will want to hold firmly but gently. Secure the bird's feet if you are able to, as this is their primary defence weapon. Be sure to keep the bird of prey's face away from your face. You may wish to wear a thick sweater or coat to protect your arms just in case.
Another method of restraining the bird involves putting the box over it upside down, and then sliding a large piece of wood or board underneath to contain the bird from below. you can then gently pick the box up keeping the board over the opening on the bottom.
Remember, YOUR SAFETY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. If you are not comfortable restraining the bird, please call an authorized rehabilitator and keep and eye on the bird while waiting for their arrival.
Once the bird is secured you can place it into an oversized box or crate. A solid cardboard box or crate rather than a wire crate would be best, as a wire crate can cause the bird to break feathers and delay release.
Make note of the location you have collected the bird from, as this will be important later on when the bird is ready to be released back to the wild.
Transportation: The next step is to transport the bird to an authorized wildlife rehabilitator. Try to reduce stress by keeping the box covered and keeping quiet, so don't blast your favourite tunes in the car while you drive to the rahabber.
Please DO NOT feed or water the raptor. If the bird is in a state of emaciation feeding it can actually kill it. It takes energy to digest food, and without enough energy a full stomach is a death sentence.
Wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario are authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife until they can be released back into the wild. These rehabilitators work in a range of environments, from a large facility to their own backyard.
You can find a list of wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario at:Wildlife Rehabilitators Public List
If you are local to us in the Greater Toronto Area we will be happy to take the bird into our care if you can bring it to us. We will do a general assessment of the bird and provide any required emergency treatment such as bandaging, rehydration, and pain medication before transferring the bird to transfer to a local wildlife rehabilitator.
If you have any further questions please call Amy at (289) 979-7193