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Bird Rescue Assessment

Whenever a wild bird is rescued, you can be sure that it will be having some form of trauma and you will have to consider:

  • what sort of bird is it ?
  • what does it eat?
  • has its food supply run out and it is starving?
  • where does it normally live? 
  • is it injured? keep checking as it may have more than one injury or problem.
  • is it sick? 
  • is it too young or can it just be placed back into the nest or onto a branch?
  • is it dying of old age?
  • has it just had a hard time following a storm or suffering heat exhaustion ?
  • is it diseased?

Some birds become lost in migration and get into trouble when they land in locations where they can’t get going again. (e.g. shearwaters and grebes landing on wet roads because they look like waterways).

The birds can react in many different ways. Some will behave friendly as if it were a pet, some will lie doggo, while others panic and go crazy. Speak quietly and operate in a steady manner. Do not have loud music or noise that will distress the birds.

Wrapping the bird in a towel or the like will stop it beating its wings and keep the feet under control so it can be further examined.

Safety first....make sure of your own safety, don’t you become a victim too.

Some birds can lash out with beaks and claws. Make sure you’ve had your tetanus shots.

Start your paperwork now - record the date and where it was found, by whom, its weight and any other information which you might need later on.


Assessing a rescue by phone call

Often this is quite a task as it is sometimes difficult to determine just what species of bird has been rescued. When talking to the caller try to make sure that you really do know what has been rescued. Here are a few hints to help you make an accurate assessment:

  • Where did you find it ?
  • How big is the bird, compare with commonly known species (sparrow, chicken,)
  • What colour is it?
  • What type of beak? Short and thick or long and skinny?
  • What sort of tongue? Honeyeaters have a long thin licking tongue.
  • What sort of legs and feet ? Long or short legs, webbed feet, toes, claws, etc.
  • Are the claws very sharp and does the bird hang on tightly?
  • Any other special attributes
  • Has it got any feathers?

Having worked through these questions, now to find out what is wrong:

  • Do you know what happened to the bird (cat attack, hit by car etc)
  • What appears to be wrong ?
  • Can it fly ? (Penguins & Emus excepted)
  • Can it stand up and walk properly ?
  • Can it grip with its feet to hold onto a perch ?
  • Is it properly balanced (do the wings seem to hang the same) ?
  • Is there any blood on it and can you see where it is coming from ?
  • Feel its chest, is it plump or does it feel like a razor blade ?
  • What colour is its droppings ?
  • What do the feathers look like, is it puffed up and the bird very sleepy ?
  • Check the eyes, is it blind ?
  • Were there any adult birds nearby which could help to identify the species?
  • Listen to the breathing, any problems?
  • Any other special things that you can see ?
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