Baby Birds of Prey & Owls

helpwildlife.co.uk provides a directory of around 400 wildlife rescues in the UK who can help with wildlife casualties

Young tawny owl - geograph.org.uk - 1405657

 

 

 

 

 

This page covers babies of species such as kestrels, sparrowhawks and owls.

 

 

 

 

 

When to Help

Tick If the bird has been attacked by a dog or hit by a car
The bird will need to be assessed for injuries and is likely to be in shock.
Tick If the bird has been caught by a cat.
It doesn’t happen often that a cat brings in such a prize, but any bird bitten by a cat needs antibiotic treatment within a few hours or it may develop fatal septicaemia.
Tick Any bird with an obvious injury
Any visible wound or apparently damaged wing, leg or beak will need treatment.
Tick A lone fluffy chick at the bottom of a tree.
In most cases, placing the baby back up in the tree out of danger is the right approach here. However, baby Barn Owls need to be placed back in the actual nest or the parents won’t continue to feed them. If you’re unsure what species you’ve found this link is very helpful – https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/picking-up-a-live-owl/find-young-barn-owl/

If in doubt, observe from a distance and contact a wildlife rescue for advice before intervening.

Cross A fledgling bird out of the nest.
If the chick is largely feathered it is probably just taking its first few practice flights. Only intervene if in immediate danger and then try to simply place it in a safe place. As above, it’s fine to handle the baby to move it to safety.

Capture

Birds of Prey are unlikely to peck you but can do damage with their powerful feet and sharp talons, even when young. Cover the bird with a thick towel or similar to protect yourself and minimise stress to the bird. Have something ready to put the bird straight into before you catch it if possible.

Containment

Place the bird in a large, sturdy cardboard box or cat carrier. If using a cardboard box, ensure the lid is secured to prevent escape and make sure to provide air holes. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away. Please minimise your contact with the baby as much as possible as they imprint very easily.

Care

If the bird has been caught by a cat, then you must seek urgent help. The bird will need to be given antibiotics within a few hours of being bitten or it may develop fatal septicaemia. Some wildlife rescues are available 24/7 for this sort of emergency and we try to give some indication of availability on our listings. You could also contact local vets – although they will not have facilities for the long-term care of the bird, they may be willing to provide a one-off dose of antibiotics. Some may even do so free or at a much-reduced price.

Do NOT attempt to feed the bird without first seeking expert advice based on the age and species of your casualty. Never attempt to force feed water to a bird as it is very easy to drown them and never offer cow’s milk, worms or alcohol.

It is likely that the bird will be shocked or weakened so supplementary heat can be very helpful here. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the bird can get away from the heat if it wants to. If the bird begins to pant, remove the heat source immediately.

NB – this advice is designed to cover the first hour or so. If you are not able to get the bird to a wildlife rescue within this time, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.

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