The Top 3 Tips To Saving A Bird’s Life
There are many ways that birds may end up in desperate need of help. Cats, cars, and windows are just some of the ways that birds are injured, and there are also natural hazards such as ferocious storms that knock youngsters out of nests. When you find a bird in need of help, what you do within the first few minutes can make a huge difference to its odds of survival. These tips are listed in order of priority.
#1: Warmth If a bird’s too cold, it will quickly die.
- Place the bird in a cardboard box or similar, with a towel placed underneath them for added comfort.
- If you have a hot water bottle or container that will hold warm water – NOT boiling, but the hottest you can get from a hot water tap – wrap this is a towel (just one layer of towel around it) and place it under the bird.
- Baby birds need to be kept warm 24/7 so for convenience their box/container can be placed in a hot water cupboard. You can also use an electric heat pad or a 25-40 watt globe fitted to a small lamp.
- Check regularly to make sure the bird isn’t too hot. Wings held out from body and panting would indicate they are too hot. A birds body temperature is around 40°C
- If a bird needs to be warmed up urgently and you’re nowhere near hot water etc., then cupping it inside your hands or if larger, cradling it in your arms holding it against your body, may literally save its life.
WARNING….WATCH OUT FOR SHARP BEAKS AND CLAWS!
#2: Shelter and quiet Injured or sick birds will recover more quickly in a calm environment
- In step 1, we’ve outlined some advice for creating a warm, sheltered area for birds to rest in.
- If possible, place the box/container well away from noise e.g. TV, radio, dogs barking etc. The birds will be very frightened and may be in shock. Shock can kill, and any loud noises may increase their shock and fear.
#3: Fluids and food This may be needed if you can’t get a bird to a rescue centre quickly
- We often get calls from people trying to feed a bird before doing anything else. In fact, warmth is the top priority (see step #1) but sometimes, if you can’t get a bird to a rescue centre quickly, you may need to try to give it water or feed it.
- Fluids first, then food. Birds need to be hydrated before any attempt at feeding them. Also, before feeding, make sure they’re warm to your touch, as they won’t be able to digest food properly until their body temperature is normal.
- Feeding: it’s important to correctly identify your bird before feeding any food.
- Food for birds should be warm and ready to digest. Don’t feed birds milk, as they are lactose intolerant!
- Allow birds to clear their crop before re-feeding (remember, the younger the bird, the more often they need to be fed i.e. a nestling out the egg needs to be fed every 10-15mins).
- Syringe / Droppers can be used for giving fluids or food to very small or very weak birds.
- Stick or finger feeding is an option too: make sure the stick has a blunt end – the handle end of a teaspoon works well – place the food on the end of the stick, or hold the food and place it into the bird’s mouth. Not too much at a time. You may need to use your other hand to ease the beak open.
Please note – if given fluids or food incorrectly the bird will die. The bird’s best chance of survival is in the care of those who know and understand their needs.
A big thank you to Wild Bird Care Charitable Trust for providing this article!