Injured and Orphaned Animals
Care Of Orphaned Birds
First, anyone who finds a baby bird should watch for a while to see if the baby is truly alone. Not all babies need to be rescued. They may be ready for flight and mama bird may be close by. (Keep kitty indoors.) If it has no feathers or is truly abandoned, attempt to locate the nest.
If the nest is found, the baby bird should be returned to the nest. Remember that birds do not have a true sense of smell, so the myth that birds will reject a baby bird if touched by a human is not true. A baby bird which has been touched by a human, however, does make it easier for a predator (cat, raccoon, etc.) to find. If a nest cannot be located and the bird is "rescued", the first important step is to provide warmth to the baby bird. A hot water bottle or low heating pad or even hot water in a glass bottle will do.
If the bird you have found has hit a window or been caught by a cat, place the bird in a box in a quiet place for about 10 minutes. If the bird does not waken or fly away, call a rehabilitator. Second, baby birds do not support themselves very well, so creating a nest-like situation helps support their bodies while feeding. Create a nesting situation so the baby bird has a place to rest its head.
Nests need to be kept clean, so create the nest with something easy to clean (plastic berry boxes) and have tissue ready to clean up waste sacs. Paper, cotton and cloth catches easily in the bird's toenails so it is not the best material to use. Rough paper towels are okay, grass clippings are damp and cold against baby bodies and should not be used.
A rehabilitator should be called immediately to care for birds which are orphaned. See the section below for a rehabilitator near you. Taking care of injured birds and wildlife should be left to people who know how to do it best. The steps above are designed strictly so that the bird has a chance of survival while you wait for a qualified person to take over.
Ever wonder why birds seem to throw themselves at your window?
Birds such as cardinals and robins will dash repeatedly at their reflections in windows. Such actions are usually because the individual bird, usually a male, mistakenly perceives another bird in the reflection of the window. It is territorial behavior for the bird to fight off the "intruder". This behavior, if continued over a period of weeks or even an entire season, can be annoying to people, but is usually not fatal to the bird.
On the other hand, when a bird strikes a window in free-flight, it does so with such velocity that the results are significantly more serious. Sometimes the bird is merely stunned or sustains superficial injuries from which it may recover, but in over half of all recorded incidents the impact results in death. This is most common during spring and fall migration, but can happen at other times of the year. Birds cannot readily distinguish the presence of a pane of transparent glass from an unobstructed space or passageway. Glass will reflect the most when it is darker inside than it is outside.
Many people are unaware that birds are being killed at their windows because the victims are small, frequently fall behind shrubbery, and more often than not are eaten by predators. Some birds bang into windows because they think they see another bird in their territory, some birds fly into windows because they don't see the window. Other birds fly into windows because they are being chased by predators. What ever the reason, you can make your windows safer. Here are some other steps for making your home windows safe for birds:
- With the exception of window feeding shelves, feeders and bird baths should be located a safe distance away from windows.
- If feeders are close to the window move them to within three feet so if the birds "flee" the feeders, they have not built up much speed.
- Window screens are a great deterrent but are not practical for many picture windows.
- Decals, including cut-outs of raptors, and leaded glass decorations are only moderately successful.
- Vertical exterior tape stripes not more than 10 cm apart are a good deterrent.
- Interior vertical blinds with the slats half open will cut down on some casualties.
- Windows can be soaped to camouflage them. Shade trees planted outside the window should cut down on some of the reflection.
If you find a banded Pigeon, you can call (800) 755-2778. For all other banded birds, call (800) 327-BAND.
For more information about injured and orphanded animals, visit The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory. To find an Indiana wildlife rehabilitator near you, view the PDF file on the DNR website HERE.
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