Found a Bird?
Dos and Don'ts
- Always exercise caution when rescuing wild birds. The easiest way to grab a bird on the ground is to throw a towel or cloth over it and gently pick it up.
- Put a towel in a box, place the bird on the towel, close up box, and allow for air.
- Keep the box in a warm, quiet area away from children and pets.
- Keep the bird warm with a heating pad set on low. Diseases and illnesses will often lower a bird's body temperature, worsening its condition.
- If a baby bird opens its mouth to beg, you can feed it wet cat or dog food or dry food soaked in water until spongy every time it begs. Stop when it stops begging or when you can see the food in the back of its throat.
- PLEASE bring the bird to us ASAP, as it will need a properly balanced diet and may need life-saving medical care.
- Please do not send an email for a wildlife medical emergency. We are not able to send or reply to emails because our volunteers are feeding hundreds of baby birds every 20 minutes; providing medical care to our existing and new arrivals is a constant and neverending activity, 7 days a week, year-round.
- Do not give the bird water with an eye dropper, as it can aspirate the fluids into its lungs, which can later develop into pneumonia.
- Do not give birds milk.
How to Know If a Bird Needs Help
A bird needs immediate medical attention if it:
- has ingested lawn chemicals, fertilizers or other toxic substances
- has hit a window or building
- has been hit by a car
- has been attacked by a wild or domestic animal
- is having difficulty breathing
- is showing neurological symptoms (including eyes ticking to the side repeatedly, severe head tilting, tremors, convulsions and paralysis)
- is having difficulty flying or walking
- is unable to get away from you
- is having any issues with vision or inability to open eyes
- is covered in oil, sticky substances or is stuck to a glue trap, fly tape or other sticky trap
- is comfortable with humans (it may be a pet or may be otherwise unable to survive on its own)
Why Can't I Keep It?
As much as your children may want to keep the bird and as much fun as it may seem, there are many reasons why we discourage them being kept as pets.
It's bad for the animals
- Wild birds need very specifically formulated diets and can develop crippling nutritional diseases without it.
- The bird may have an injury or illness that may not be noticed by someone without avian veterinary expertise and may lead to death without proper medical treatment.
- If not rehabilitated properly, the bird may become extremely comfortable with humans, domestic pets, and other situations. These animals may pose a nuisance or hazard to humans which can, in turn, easily become a risk to the animals' safety as well. They may even become unable to survive on their own if they become too reliant on human contact for feeding, shelter, and protection.
It's against the law
- Almost all wild birds are protected by The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law, as well as state and local laws. These laws protect wild birds, their nests and eggs from killing and/or unlicensed possession.
- According to federal law, wild birds can only be kept for up to 48 hours by unlicensed persons with intent to relocate to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
What if I have already been caring for a wild bird?
If you have been caring for a wild bird, you should bring it to an avian wildlife rehabilitor as soon as possible. We understand your good intentions but the average american home is not the place for a wild bird. The sooner the bird can be given a proper diet and medical care, the better its chances.
Texas Parks & Wildlife
Texas Parks & Wildlife / Law Enforcement
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Blackland Prairie Raptor Center