Guidance if you find an injured bird

Our RSPB Stockport local group predominantly organises indoor talks and outdoor activities for people who are interested in nature. We do not have the facility to take action to help birds that might be in distress. Here is the link to the RSPB page for advice and contacts if you find an injured bird.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/if-you-find-an-injured-bird

The RSPCA offers this advice for Sick or injured birds:

Because bird flu is still affecting many birds across the UK, it is very important to take precautions to keep yourself safe as it can affect humans too. If you do find a sick bird and appears to have bird flu, avoid contact with the bird – including feathers and waste.

How to tell if a bird is sick or injured

Wild birds will hide signs of pain when people are around, so it’s often not easy to tell if they need help.

If you’re not sure, then take pictures or videos of the bird and contact a vet or wildlife rehabilitator (https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/rescuecentre) for more advice. 

The Garden Wildlife Health website (https://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org/garden-wildlife/#birds ) has pictures and videos of sick garden birds which may be helpful to compare with a bird you’re worried about.

Signs to look out for

  • You can see obvious wounds or bleeding
  • If a bird has been caught by a dog or cat, there’s a risk it could develop an infection. So, they always need to be taken for treatment, even if you can’t see any obvious wounds
  • The bird doesn’t move when you approach them – it’s normal for healthy adult birds to rest on the ground, but they should still try to walk or fly away if someone approaches them
  • The bird’s feathers look fluffed up, but remember they will also do this during cold weather to keep warm
  • The bird can’t hold their head up straight or keep their balance properly, or their head and neck looks twisted
  • There’s swellings or crusty growths on the skin, usually seen on the face, legs or feet
  • The bird is panting or breathing fast, and you’ve seen them doing this for at least two hours. Panting is a normal way for birds to cool down if they’re too hot, but it can also be a sign of disease

How to help a sick or injured bird

If you find a bird that you suspect to be sick or injured, you should first check whether it is an adult or baby. It’s very common to find baby birds on the ground in spring and summer. If you find a baby bird, keep your pets away and follow baby bird advice.

Found a baby bird out of a nest

During the spring and summer months, it’s very common to find baby birds on the ground. Birds take far better care of their babies than humans can, so if you find a baby bird, keep your pets away and follow our advice below.

Bird flu warning

Due to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) currently in place across the UK, some baby birds can’t be handled. Please follow our bird flu and baby bird advice to check which species can be handled and what to do. (https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/diseases#babybirds)

If the baby bird has no feathers

Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or only a few. Nestlings won’t survive long outside the protection of the nest, and where possible nestlings should be re-nested and left in the wild.

If you can’t see a nest in the surrounding trees, or it’s fallen down or been damaged, then you can make a replacement nest to put the nestling back into. This could be as simple as a basket or plant pot with some nesting material inside, securely attached to the nearest tree. If the bird is injured, the quickest way to help is to contact your local wildlife rescue centre or vet.(https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/rescuecentre)

If the baby bird has feathers

Fledglings nearly have all their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly, so it’s normal to see them on the ground. Keep your pets away from them, leave the fledgling alone and monitor it, as the parents are usually nearby and feeding the bird.

Even if you have already confined a healthy fledgling, you may still be able to return them to their parents. If they’re in immediate danger, place them in a sheltered spot a short distance away.