Handling Wildlife – Birds of Prey
April 19th, 2015
REMEMBER you are responsible for your own safety and that of others. Even in following these guidelines you are at risk of harm and should enlist the help of a trained professional. Knoxwood will not be held responsible for any injures to yourself, others or property.
Please remember – you must never handle any wild bird or animal unless you are certain it needs help, and your sole intention is to provide that help.
If you can get close enough to a wild bird to handle it, then it usually needs some kind of assistance, with the exception of juvenile birds learning how to fly – Check out our article on baby tawney owls!
If you have found an injured bird of prey or an owl follow this procedure:
Get a sturdy cardboard box with a lid. punch at least 20 holes around the sides of the box with a pencil and a dozen in the lid. A cat carrier with small mesh will also be perfect. Line the bottom with an old towel, facecloth, teatowel or t shirt
Put some heavy duty gardening gloves on or even welders or workmans gloves if you have them- NOT the rubber kind!
If the bird is unresponsive and simply lying on the ground, gently cover the entire bird with a duster or light cloth and pick him up cloth and all and place the whole bundle into the box – birds of prey do peck/bite but this is NOT the main area for concern, their talons (feet) are the really dangerous bits!
If the bird is awake and hopping around, you will need a larger piece of cloth such as a hand towel, which you should hold out in front of you like a bull fighter but do not flap it or distress the bird. Walk up to the bird slowly, towel in front, you can get a couple of other people to help you at this stage with towels and gently encourage the bird into a corner or a shed if you are lucky enough to have one. Everyone involved should have good gloves on!
Once the bird is cornered, move slowly until you are near enough to drop your towel right over the bird and scoop him up into your prepared box.
Make sure your cloth is big enough to cover the whole bird and have lots left over, when you pick up the bird he will grab on with his talons and beak, and you want him to grip the extra towel and not you!
If he does get hold of the towel, let him keep holding on to it, and put him in the box towel and all, do not attempt to take it from him.
Sometimes the bird will flip onto his back and wave his talons in the air before you drop the towel on him. Make sure he gets lots of towel to grab and cover his head completely. You can then slip one hand under his back (LOOK OUT! your wrists are in range of his beak / talons) and gently roll him over, put another cloth over his back and head and pick him up.
If you are using a cardboard box make sure the lid is secured with string or broad tape.
Take to your nearest vet, sanctuary or falconer.