Handy hints on caring for birds

Fauna Rescue of South Australian Inc. is South Australia's largest wildlife organisation caring for our sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.


  • Rice water is very good for birds with diarrhea.
  • Crops in seed eaters that are slow emptying - massage gently and keep bird warm. Only feed glucose & water until the crop empties.
  • Magpies and Ravens have a tendency when they first come in of regurgitating their food. Place small amounts of food in beak and hold beak closed, gently massage throat area to encourage swallowing.
  • Use small D cup feeders as this prevents the birds from bathing in their food. Especially with honeyeaters & lorikeets.
  • Tiny featherless birds must still be kept warm while feeding. Sit them under a warm desk lamp to feed.
  • Birds not gaping is a sign of dehydration. Syringe a few droplets of glucose and water over the birds beak, allowing the bird to lick the droplets themselves. Noisy miners and magpies are prone to stop gaping if dehydrated.
  • If magpies and ravens are reluctant to hand feed, try placing a black sock over your hand. This often puts the bird at ease and starts gaping for food.
  • Do not feed junk food to birds. You will end up with unhealthy birds and this has also been linked to deformities in chicks.
  • Also see feeding granivores, insectivores, nectivores, lorikeets, water birds and raptors.

Releasing birds

  • Never release a bird unless it is self feeding and has built up its wing muscles.
  • Before releasing birds during breeding season, you need to take into consideration the birds which are in your area.  In some areas you can release earlier but others you may need to wait until breeding season is over. Speak to your coordinator about when is the best time to release.
  • Do not release birds that are not common in your area.
  • Never release in extreme heat or bad weather.
  • Always release birds in the morning to give them the whole day to explore and adjust to their surroundings.
  • Do not clip bird’s wings if they are to be released. It takes too long for them to grow back and you may miss your window of opportunity for release.

Cage, aviary and environment

  • Provide low branches in cages for injured birds.
  • Don’t use fluorescent lighting to heat birds. Use normal or coloured globes.
  • Noisy miners must be creched together when very young. (Still in nest size) After this stage putting noisy miners together can cause fights and even death.
  • Aviaries need to be placed where they get the morning sun but should have afternoon shade.
  • Baby birds need sunlight. Place cages outside to get the morning sun.
  • To keep aviaries cool in summer you can place leaved branches or brush fencing material on the roof.
  • Doves & Pigeons need to be given small twigs and sticks in their nest to prevent foot deformities.
  • Magpies need things to play with like small sticks, leaves, empty toilet rolls & coloured pegs. They love to play.
  • Lone ducklings/plovers can be given a fluffy toy or feather duster to cuddle up to.
  • Cover lorikeets/honeyeater & tawny frog mouth cages with a sheet, especially if against wall or curtains as they squirt their faeces out the side and back of the cage.
  • Don’t put larger birds of prey like magpies, owls or hawks next to smaller birds. The smaller birds will immediately sense danger and panic, often flying into the wire and injuring and/or killing them in the process.
  • Keep birds away from the main traffic areas in your house/garden. Keep away from other pets such as dogs & cats.
  • When putting the ducklings/plovers enclosure out on the lawn to graze make sure you cover it with something such as shade cloth to prevent Ravens & birds of prey coming and taking them.
  • Check towels for loose threads as they can become wrapped around the feet or neck of birds.

Behaviour and handling

  • Lorikeets do have very runny/squirty poos. This is normal.
  • Noisy miners hunch their back and flutter their wings at you as a greeting. This is normal behaviour.
  • A baby raven is almost as big as its parents but still has blue eyes.
  • Check all birds for mites/flat flies. Check with coordinator for how to treat the bird should they be carrying any “wildlife”.
  • When stick feeding keep a strong hold on the stick to prevent the bird swallowing it. Preferably use extra long wooden skewers.
  • Always use gloves when handling parrots and lorikeets. Even if they are in shock and “appear” tame as they can suddenly turn and give you a nasty bite.
  • Feather plucking in a parrot is usually a sign of stress and/or boredom.
  • In summer we receive calls from the public about groups of lorikeets rolling around under fruit trees. This nearly always turns out to be caused by the lorikeets eating the rotting fruit. In fact they are literally “drunk”. Tell the callers to place them in a box. Keep them warm, dark & quiet and provide plenty of fluids. In other words treat as you would for a hangover. The birds can normally be released again in a few hours.
  • Birds with broken beaks need to be euthanased. Their tongues dry out and crack causing the bird pain and difficulty with feeding.
  • When handling Ravens, Magpies & Birds of Prey give them a small branch to grip on to with their claws. This prevents them holding on to you.





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