What to do with an injured bird

By Arbutus West, on Saturday, January 20th, 2018

What do I do with an injured bird?

It’s one of the most common calls vet clinics get, that unfortunately, few vets can treat. Birds are quite a specialized field. Add into that equation any number of diseases or parasites they could be carrying into a clinic and you have a bit of a conundrum. Who do you call? How can you help? Well, there’s some good news! With so much wild terrain in BC, along with that comes a lot of amazing wildlife rescues. Yes, they can also give you advice on an injured squirrel, moose or more, but that will have to be a blog for another day…


So what do you do if you find a injured bird? Here are some easy steps to follow, courtesy of the Wildlife Rescue Association.

If you find a bird firstly OBSERVE. Any bird that has obvious signs of blood, a drooping wing, an injured leg, is lethargic or non-responsive, or has had contact with a cat or dog should be admitted to the Wildlife Hospital in Burnaby. If you’re able to drop it off at the centre – great! This frees up volunteers to nurse the animals back to health, and provide emergency care.

See instructions below on how to contain an injured bird to get it safely to the wildlife centre:

How to Contain an Injured Bird
Find a cardboard box that is large enough for the bird. A shoe box works well for songbirds
Poke small holes in the box
Take a towel or t shirt and place it quickly on top of the bird. Make sure the head is covered, this will help to calm the bird down
Scoop the bird up and place it in the box
Loosen the towel to uncover the bird
Close the box securely and leave it in a dark, warm and quiet place to minimize stress on the bird
Do not handle or look at the bird, minimizing stress is the best thing to do at this time
Do not feed or give water unless specifically instructed by Wildlife Rescue staff
Take a picture. We often ask for a picture when talking to you on our helpline. It helps to know what the bird looks like and the circumstances it is in
Call the Wildlife Helpline (9am-5pm, 7 days a week: 604-526-7275)

If the animal is a larger bird with a pointy beak or a bird of prey with dangerous talons such as a hawk or owl, please contact Wildlife Helpline for advice on how to proceed with the animal, each situation can be different and many larger wild birds can be dangerous if approached.

If you’ve found a bird outside of the opening hours, please follow the above instructions, keep the bird in a dark, warm space overnight, and go to the centre when they open in the morning.


As well as the BC Wildlife Rescue Association, there are many organisations that support injured birds of prey, local wildlife and endangered species that are found sick or injured. Take a look at the amazing work that the BC SPCA Wild ARC does  and the absolutely heartwarming story of Critter Care rescue.

Our wildlife has to fight against habitat destruction, lack of food, natural disasters and more, so it’s a wonderful thing to see people giving everything that they can to take care of our beautiful and varied native fauna.

If you’d like to do more, please consider donating your time, or money to any of these amazing causes, which are run 100% on donations.

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