Birds - Detailed Info

Songbird Babies

Most baby birds (that are uninjured) in Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres never required care. Please seek help, before intervening, if you are unsure if a bird is in trouble. This will prevent you from unknowingly committing a 'birdnapping', and eliminating an otherwise healthy bird's chances for a natural upbringing by its parents.

Birds essentially have NO SENSE OF SMELL. They do not care if you touch their babies, in fact would far prefer you pick up and replace a wayward nestling than not.


Many birds are ground nesters, not tree or bush nesters. It is not only common for a nest to be at or near the ground, this is normal for many species. Fledgling (mostly or fully feathered birds, as yet unable to fly) birds also spend time on the ground, often several weeks while gaining strength in their wings. Leave them alone, they are fine, if you watch carefully you will most likely see mama and papa bird feeding the  fledgling(s). Please do not 'birdnap' a perfectly normal bird. Please keep cats indoors, or restrained via leashes or enclosures when outside. The toll cats exact on the young, flightless birds is horrendous, unnatural (yes I did say unnatural, cats ARE NOT a normal or rightful predator of wildlife), and completely unnecessary. If a plague, oil spill, or toxic waste dump was putting our bird populations at risk no one would tolerate this, so why would anyone think it was 'okay' for pets to attack, maim and kill them.

Impact Injury

This is normally a result of being hit by a car or flying into a glass window. Generally the bird appears groggy, and often appears unfrightened and is unable to stand or fly.  In the same way you cannot keep a toddler in a crib, a baby bird cannot remain in the nest forever. its parents will still continue to care for it on the ground, until it is old enough to care for itself.

If you witnessed the impact, or it is obvious from the location you found the bird that this is the problem, get a cardboard box just large enough to hold the bird, and punch it full of ventilation holes (this prevents over heating). Carefully place the bird inside and close it, securely, to prevent the bird from escaping once it 'wakes up'. Put the box in a very quiet, dark place (cool area in summer, warm area in winter) and leave the bird completely alone for an hour. In the meantime contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and explain the situation as fully as possible. Often after an hour the bird is fully recovered and can simply be set free, if after three hours it has not fully recovered it must be taken to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as it will require long term care, medication and other treatments.

Birds run into windows as they do not 'see' the glass. This can be prevented in several ways.

If you have blinds do not completely retract them, instead use the rod to simply 'tilt' the slats.

Do not open curtains or blinds on windows that are directly opposite or in line of sight of each other, the birds see this as a clear corridor and will continuously be running into them.

Place decals, wind chimes and other affixed or hanging objects in front of large picture windows, this breaks up the glass and makes it visible to the birds.

Parasite Infestation

This means the bird has picked up some sort of parasite (worms, flukes, other nasty creepy crawlies that get onto or into the bird) that has either impaired or made it impossible to feed and care for itself. These birds are usually grounded, often bedraggled, with ruffled or damaged feathers, and often will not try to escape or show fear when approached.

Get a cardboard box just big enough for the bird, and punch it full of ventilation holes (to prevent overheating). Place the bird inside and either contact a Vet Clinic or a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. This bird will most likely require medication, rest and feeding until it can regain its strength.


This bird will also appear much like a bird with parasites, and may well have parasites. An emaciated bird is one that is literally starving.

When you actually pick up the bird to place in the cardboard box you will feel that its breastbone is extremely prominent - there will be a large ridge poking out from the centre of its chest from just below the throat to just above the belly. On either side of the breastbone there will be very little, if any 'meat', the muscles will have wasted away. This bird will need immediate specialized treatment if it is to survive, get it to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as soon as possible. DO NOT TRY TO TREAT OR FEED THIS BIRD, it requires very specialized care, without professional treatment it will die.

Cat Attack

Once a bird has been in a cat's mouth it will most likely contract pasturella, and without antibiotic treatment die. Even if the bird appears to be unharmed within 12-36 hours, if there was ANY blood/saliva contact the bird will die. Please do not 'let go' these apparently uninjured birds that your cat has brought in, please get them the medical treatment they need from a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

CONSIDER PUTTING A 'BIB' ON YOUR OUTDOOR ROAMING CAT. Bells do nothing to protect birds and other wildlife from the predation of cats. Purchase or make a bib for your cat's collar. These are made from the same material as most 'mouse pads', a slightly tapered rectangle or triangle that hangs (the narrow part) from the cat's collar to just below the cat's knees. The wider part at the bottom should be 3-5 inches across, depending on the cat's size. When the cat crouches down preparing to spring the 'bib' lays out in front. When the cat's front paws shoot forward to pounce they encounter the 'bib', tripping the cat and allowing the wildlife both warning and time to escape.


These are owls, hawks, falcons and eagles, also known as Birds of Prey. Raptors can be dangerous to handle with their beaks and talons. When handling Raptors use several layers of thick blankets or towels, and often the addition of welding gloves or other heavy leather gloves is a very good idea. A suitable cardboard box is often not handy when dealing with these larger birds. Ideally a large plastic dog kennel (NOT METAL this will damage feathers) is the best container, but a large 'Rubbermaid plastic tote' or clean garbage can is a great substitute, just be sure that it is well ventilated (CRITICALLY IMPORTANT if you intend to use the lid that comes with the container) by using a pillowcase or sheet over the top and secure it with bungee cords, tape, or rope. Contact and transport as soon as possible to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Ducks, Geese and other Water Fowl

This basically includes anything with webbed feet. The young of these birds will imprint almost immediately on anything that moves, including you!

Ducklings (baby ducks)

These downy yellow/brown/black balls of fluff commonly get lost as they will follow anything that moves. Duckling mum's WILL NOT accept another's babies, and in fact will KILL another's babies. DO NOT attempt to reunite these babies unless you are completely certain you know who mum is. Ducklings are extremely fragile - stress, improper feeding, lack of heat will kill them in a matter of hours. Do not handle them beyond placing in a small ventilated cardboard box with non raveling bedding to snuggle into to keep warm. Contact a Vet or Wildlife Rehabilitator with the utmost urgency if you want the baby to survive.

Goslings (baby geese)

These downy yellow/brown/grey/black balls of fluff commonly get lost as they will follow anything that moves. Often you will find a mama goose in the vicinity (fortunately they cannot count), and it is easy to pop the baby in with any family of geese where the babies have the same coloration and size as your "lost" baby.

If you are certain there are no 'like' families around after 30 minutes of searching, then as quickly as possible get the baby to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. They are very fragile, and when alone they lose body heat rapidly. Time kills these little guys, do not delay, seek help immediately.

This basically includes anything with webbed feet. The young of these birds will imprint almost immediately on anything that moves, including you!

Injured Adult Water Birds

Ducks, Geese and Swans are often injured by unleashed pets, wild predators, and humans either shooting or hitting (sticks, rocks, cars) them. As with Raptors, be very careful if you choose to tackle a large goose or swan, they have very powerful wings and have been known to break a human leg with their wings. Unless the bird is literally unable to escape, capture is often impossible. A goose with a broken leg will still fly away as soon as you get too close. A duck or swan unable to fly will often stay near or in the water, again making capture difficult or impossible. They are best contained in the same manner as the Raptors, cardboard boxes, Rubbermaid totes, large dog crates or kennels (plastic ONLY, anything metal or wire will damage feathers) and lastly a clean garbage can. Contact and transport to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Keep in mind that flightless birds ARE NOT always injured. Geese (and all other birds) must periodically 'moult' their feathers and grow new ones. For unmated yearling Geese this can be as early as June, for females that had a clutch to rear this could be as late as August. One parent will be capable of flight throughout the raising of the babies. Often the large Canada Geese decide to do their 'moult' in the oddest of places, parking lots or other expanses of concrete in particular. If possible, shoo it to the seclusion of grasses/bushes, if it is a hazard or in danger it may need to be moved to the nearest lake/marsh area.


Elizabeth's Wildlife Center

Mail only to P.O. Box 15015
Sevenoaks, Abbotsford, B.C.
V2S 8P1

Open daily 9am-5pm
(604) 852-9173
Call for drop-off location