Spring is a busy time for wildlife with many species in the UK having their first cubs, chicks or kittens
of the year between February and May. This also means that we all have to be extra vigilant and
know what to do if we find a wildlife casualty.
What do you if you find an injured bird
If you come across an injured or orphaned bird – and this first part applies to all species, including
mammals – please do not intervene! Your first action should be to make sure there are no more
dangers present, clear any pets from the area, then call Secret World Wildlife, or local wildlife rescue
or vets if we are not available. Secret World Wildlife Rescue takes in casualties from all across the
south-west of England, but we are happy to help with queries from anywhere in the country.
An animal doesn’t show pain in the same way that a human does. Some don’t even make a noise.
You may not be able to tell if an animal is in pain, so avoid moving an animal that is obviously
injured, if possible.
Babies don’t always need our help. Mum might be nearby. Well-meaning rescuers sometimes bring
fledgling birds to us who may not have needed rescuing.
First check whether the baby bird is obviously injured. You can usually do this without picking it up.
It’s best not to touch the young bird if possible. There are some species which we would particularly
advise against touching, like baby jackdaws who will be fledglings for a while and stay with their
parents for some time.
If the baby bird has obvious injuries then please call Secret World, or your local wildlife rescue centre
or vet, as they may want to take it in for treatment. If you’re concerned about its immediate safety
(perhaps your cat is watching close by) then get pets away or cover the bird with a box or plant pot
while you’re calling for help.
Be a WildLifesaver: remove immediate dangers, but avoid moving injured or baby birds if possible.
If the bird is featherless then it may have come out of the nest too early for some reason. If you can
see the nest and there’s no immediate danger, pick the bird up carefully using a cloth or towel and
place it back in the nest.
Keep an eye on it, and if the parents don’t return within an hour or two please call Secret World, or
your local wildlife rescue centre or vet, for advice.
If the bird is a fledgling it is unlikely to have been abandoned. Fledglings may spend a couple of days
hopping around on the ground after leaving the nest, before flying. We get a great number of
‘rescued’ fledgling birds who would have been better left where they were.
The little bird’s parents might be right nearby. If it’s in danger, move it to safety if needed, and try to
keep pets away for a few days while the youngster learns to use its wings. If it’s injured, call for
Be a WildLifesaver: call for advice when you need to
You may be advised to contain a wildlife casualty (such as a bird or small mammal) while you’re
waiting for help to arrive. There are a few steps you can then take to make your casualty
Carefully place the animal in a box with non-slip bedding like a clean towel, which will help it stay
warm. Use a box with a lid so it can’t escape – and remember to put holes in the top to allow your
casualty to breathe!
Keep your casualty somewhere warm, dark and quiet. If the container is clear, cover it with a towel
or blanket as this will help keep the animal calm. Remember this is going to be a stressful experience
Don’t worry about feeding your casualty. You may be advised to leave a small shallow dish of water
in the box/container, but this may depend on the condition of the animal and whether help is going
to arrive quickly.
Be a WildLifesaver: if you need to contain an injured animal, remember – warmth, dark, quiet