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Birds – General

Birds are the most common rescue Hunter Wildlife Rescuers are asked to do.

The most common reasons for rescues include domestic animal attacks, hit by cars, accidents –

such as flying into windows, power lines or netting, being blown from their nest.


 Baby birds, where possible, need to be left with its mother.

 Remember not to endanger your life or the life of others


Catching and handling birds is a source of stress. Watch the bird for a few minutes to see if

you can see where it may be injured; also see what its escape areas may be.

Catch the bird by throwing a towel or net over it. Most birds become quiet when they can no

longer see. Be quiet and slow with your movements. If you can corner the bird, then capture

becomes easier. It is better to make one definite throw than 10 half-hearted attempts, causing

the bird to stress and flap. It may be quicker to work in teams where possible.

 Capture as quickly as possible to reduce stress.

 Distract the bird’s attention to catch it.

 Leather gloves reduce sensation and are not recommended.

 Cover its head.

 When you hold a bird so it is comfortable, it will relax and stop struggling.

 Keep the bird upright and do not

compress the chest.


Magpies during the nesting season (between June and December), should be left in the

area for a number of reasons, the eggs or young may die from exposure or starvation,

other magpies are likely to take over the nest and if the nest has been removed any other

Basic Rescue Training will try to use the location. Magpies may be held on back with feet up. A towel

over the feet may help to scoop them up.

Parrots have very strong beaks and claws. They are best handled from inside a big towel. A

firm grip of their head or neck as if you were holding a cup will prevent bites. Two people may

be needed to handle the larger parrots.

Small birds need to be handled gently to prevent injury to themselves. Hold your hand in a

pistol grip. The thumb and index finger hold the head, the others support the body.

Pigeons/doves drop feathers when handled. A firm hold over the flight and tail feathers or the

shoulders may reduce feather loss.

Birds in swimming pools should be herded into a corner and netted, place immediately in a

warmed box.

Special Situations

There are some special situations in which the NATF has organised with other volunteer

groups to use their assistance when retrieving injured wildlife. An example would be birds

caught in high trees. In this case we generally ring another organisation to provide assistance or tree removal companies to help.

Oiled birds

Oiled birds should be placed in a well ventilated box, to avoid breathing the fumes

as much as possible and try to find out what kind of oil it is, some chemicals are quite

dangerous to humans and can cause eye irritation and respiratory problems. Do not attempt

to wash the oil from the bird unless trained to do so as it is too easy to destroy the feather

structure. Contact your coordinator, or an experienced

carer, immediately you receive an oiled bird – no matter

how small the oiled area may be.


You will be asked to go and pick up baby birds in the

hundreds in baby season. Many of these rescues are

unnecessary and should be assessed and maybe

discussed with your coordinator. It is very rewarding to

place a baby back with its mother, no matter how much we

would love to raise that baby it should be placed back

where it belongs. Some birds raise their babies on the

ground and this should be considered before interfering.

Baby birds, where possible, need to be left w