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First Aid for Birds

Unconscious, lying on the road or pavement.

Can you see any wounds or blood? 
If it is bleeding from an open wound, make a compress from a clean, folded tissue.
Hold it to the wound for a short while until the flow slows or stops.
Pick the bird up gently in both hands or by using a small cloth.
Fold the wings by the side of the body and put the bird on a cloth in a closely fitting ventilated box.
If you only have a large box, fill up some space with crumpled sheets of newspaper to prevent the bird moving around.
A carrier bag with a folded newspaper base inside will do if nothing else is available.
Large birds can be put into a bin liner with a newspaper base for a short journey, as long as it is ventilated.
Keep the bird quiet and in the dark to minimize the effects of shock
Take it to your nearest Rescue Centre or a sympathetic vet as soon as possible.

Bird brought in by a Cat

Very young, few feathers
Check for scratches and puncture wounds. Clean with warm saline solution if necessary.
Keep warm in a woolly hat or glove while you half-fill a hot water bottle and wrap it in a towel.
Put the chick in its woolly nest on top of this. If the bird is very cold, put a crumpled facial tissue or
some soft loo paper over it, to keep in the warmth.
When warm, give a few drops of Rehydrating Fluid on a fine brush or cotton wool bud.
Depending on size, it will need to be fed hourly or hourly for the 12 daylight hours. 
All small birds (apart from pigeons and doves) eat meat when young so if it will take some time to get the
bird to a Rescue Centre, you can give a couple of small feeds once the bird has thoroughly warmed up and rehydrated.

See  How to Rear Rescued Birds  for more details

Young Fledgling
Almost fully feathered, just starting to fly
Check for lost feathers and wounds. Clean minor injuries with warm saline solution and dab dry.
Put the bird into a small, ventilated container and keep dark and warm for about 2 hours.
Air under the skin
Birds sometimes develop an air bubble under the skin after a mauling from a cat. This needs to be carefully punctured by
a trained professional and the bird given a course of antibiotics for 3  too 5 days.
The air bubble can recur, so you need to keep a close watch on progress.
Homoeopathic AIL 30 or 200 can be added to feeds, together with Arnica and hypericum, to assist healing.
Unconscious, lying under a window
It has flown into the window and may be concussed.
Don't leave it outside, it will be in danger from passing predators.
Pick the bird up gently in both hands or by using a small cloth.
Is it still breathing?
Check the body for wounds, especially broken bones.
Gently feel the legs and wings to find out if there are any suspicious lumps or obvious injuries.
Injured?
Take to a Rescue Centre or vet staight away.
Fold the wings by the side of the body and put the bird on a cloth in a closely fitting ventilated box.
If you only have a large box, fill up some space with crumpled sheets of newspaper to prevent the bird moving around.
A carrier bag with a folded newspaper base inside will do if nothing else is available.
Uninjured?
Give it some time to recover.
Leave in a warm, dark, quiet place for 2 hours.
Can you hear it moving around?
If you hear a lot of activity, take the box outside and lift the lid cautiously.
(This is where a friend would be useful, in case the bird needs to be recaptured.)
If the bird is really lively and makes a dash for the opening, let it out and see how well it flies.
Can it get into a low tree or shrub?
Once it is off the ground, it will be safe from predators and should recover fully in time.
Do not let the bird out if it seems dazed.
Give it another couple of hours then offer water and a variety of food.
Do not release a garden bird at dusk or in darkness.  Transfer to a larger box if necessary and offer food and water.
Release in the morning if it has fully recovered, otherwise take to a Rescue Centre
Injured wing
Bird running about, unable to take off.
Catch it and take to a Rescue Centre in a box with a secure lid.
Large birds such as magpies are difficult to catch as they usually jump over fences
Smaller birds can usually be cornered; dropping a cloth over them sometimes help
Injured leg
Birds with injured legs are very difficult to catch if they are still able to fly
Some birds (pigeons) can be lured into a humane trap by offering food
Water birds in parks can sometimes be caught by luring them close with food
Report birds with leg injuries to a local Rescue Centre, they may be able to help


Can't take it to a rescue centre straight away?

Clean any superficial cuts with cotton wool or gauze swabs and the following:
If you can't get to a rescue centre straight away, clean wounds by washing away any surface dirt and
cleaning the area with dilute saline solution or better still, Hypercal solution.
Hypercal solution:
4 drops Hypercal tincture
1 teaspoon warm water
Mix well and apply to the injury with cotton wool.

Saline solution: 
Half a pint of warm, boiled water
Half a teaspoon of salt
Stir to dissolve and use to clean any scratches or cuts.

Leave the bird to recover in a quiet, warm place for 2 hours.
If it begins moving about and you are familiar with handling birds, make up some emergency rehydration fluid.
Emergency Rehydration
1 tablespoon warm, boiled water
1 pinch sugar or drop of honey
5 tiny grains of salt
4 drops Bach Rescue Remedy if possible
1 tablet homoeopathic Aconite 6 or 30 if stocked.
Mix together well, then dab a drop at a time on the side of the bird's beak.
Use a cotton wool bud or tiny artist's paintbrush and try to give 5-10 drops.
Put the bird back in the box to rest and try more drops after another hour.

If the bird becomes increasingly lively
Make room in the box for a small heavy dish of water and one of food.
What should I feed to the bird?
See:  Bird foods   or try small amounts of the following:
finely minced peanuts or sunfloweer seeds
breadcrumbs soaked in water and squeezed dry again
small mixed seeds
chopped, soaked currants, sultanas etc.
mashed up meaty catfood
crumbled cat biscuits
If you are not sure what kind of bird it is, this will offer plenty of choice.
          
See also:       Homoeopathic remedies          Top of page       Return to First Aid      Return to index