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

The most common reasons for rescues include:

  • can’t fly e.g. injured wing
  • injured body parts, beaks or legs
  • domestic animal attacks
  • hit by cars
  • accidents such as flying into windows, power lines or netting
  • being blown from their nest
  • dangerous location – on the road


Many of the rescues for baby birds are unnecessary.

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 where there are found and can be moved to a sfer location such as a bush.

Rescue Information for the General Public

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible. Hunter Wildlife members are here to provide advice, support and assistance.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • Wild birds can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance

Injured wing


  • Cat carrier or strong cardboard box with secure lid
  • Wire cages are not ideal – stress and risk of feather damage
  • Line the container with a clean towel or newspaper
  • Container needs to be large to hold the bird but small enough to prevent it flapping around
  • Provide ventilation if using cardboard box, make tiny air holes low down on the sides of the box
  • Secure container – prevent severely debilitated/unconscious bird making a sudden recovery and escaping
  • Protect from excessive noise, vibration, extremes of temperature, wind, rain and direct sunlight



  • Use gloves/towel
  • Do not handle unnecessarily
  • Once captured do not try to calm bird by talking to it
  • Keep other domestic animals away

Short Term Care of Adult Birds


  • Container must be large enough for bird to stand up and turn around in
  • House indoors in a warm quiet area, out of direct sun or drafts
  • Keep away from domestic animals and children
  • Darken the container to reduce stress
  • Line with newspaper with towel on top for grip and warmth
  • Put a branch in the box or container if bird is a perching bird
  • Do not put water birds e.g. ducks, in water


  • sturdy cardboard box
  • cat/dog carrier
  • shower cubicle, without water, can be ideal for large, messy, waterbirds


  • The bird should feel warm to the touch
  • Small and/or injured birds will need an ambient temperature of 25-30˚C
  • If it is a large bird and looks bright and alert, room temperature should suffice
  • If the bird is cold it will be unwilling to feed


 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.



During the nesting season (between June and December), magpies 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 other birds will try to take over the location.

Magpies may be held on back with feet up. A towel over the feet may help to scoop them up.



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.





Drop feathers when handled. A firm hold over the flight and tail feathers or the shoulders may reduce feather loss.




Birds in swimming pools

Can be carefully scooped from the water.

Some birds can be herded into a corner and you can place a board/branch from a tree or towel over the edge and into the water to give them something to grip to allow them to exit the water themselves.

It is stressful to try to net ducklings who may may drown.

Carefully dry with a towel and place immediately in a box with a bottle with warm water until they are dry.

Special Situations

There are some special situations in which the Hunter Wildlife rescuers have 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.