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How to Handle an Injured Raptor

The following information is provided to help you safely recover and transport an injured raptor (eagle, hawk, owl, etc.) to a licensed rehabilitation center,  such as REGI*, for immediate specialized care.  If you are looking for information on helping a baby bird, song bird, etc., please view "How to Help a Baby Bird" for more appropriate instructions.


Please Note: 

Under Federal and State Law it is LEGAL for any person to rescue or transport a bird of prey immediately to a licensed rehabilitator.
It is ILLEGAL under Federal or State law to injure or possess a bird of prey.


How to Safely Recover and Transport an Injured Raptor

Please follow these outlined instructions carefully to prevent further injury to either the raptor OR yourself.  Before you begin, please appreciate that a raptor's talons (claws) are it's main method of protection and defense.  They are very sharp and very powerful.  You must ALWAYS be aware of where they are in relation to parts of your own body.  

Your goal is to completely cover the injured bird, recover it to an appropriate box to prevent further injury, and IMMEDIATELY transport it to or seek the help of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator* who can provide the necessary specialized care.  DO NOT seek the help of a veterinarian.  Most have neither the facilities, time, or practical experience to properly handle injured raptors.

Capturing, Containing and Transporting the Injured Raptor

  1. Obtain a TOWEL, BLANKET, JACKET or any other handy lightweight item that is large enough to cover the entire bird.
  2. Note the geographic location where the bird was found.  This information will be necessary when the bird is ready for release back into the wild.
  3. Approach the bird from the rear if possible.  If the bird is alert and can follow your movements, anticipate that it will struggle when first covered.
  4. When close enough, carefully place the chosen covering over the bird.  Make sure to cover the bird completely.
  5. Quickly restrain the bird under the covering.  Be certain the legs and talons are contained and covered completely.
  6.  Before attempting to handle the bird:  BE AWARE OF WHERE THE FEET ARE!!!
  7. As the bird calms down, gather the covering together, being carefully to get the bird's wings folded against the body.
  8.  If required, the covering can be made into a sack using a bootlace or duct tape.  NEVER TAPE THE FEATHERS DIRECTLY.  EXTREME CARE must be used when the bird is transported in this manner.  If the day is warm or the covering is made of tightly woven material, the bird can quickly overheat.  The bird should be transferred to a more suitable enclosure at the first opportunity.
  9. Stop at a nearby house or business and obtain a cardboard box.  The box should be WELL VENTILATED and just large enough to allow the bird some movement, but not so large as to allow the bird to move around and cause further injury.  Do not put any wild bird in a wire cage. 
  10. CALL US AT RAPTOR EDUCATION GROUP, INC. AT 715-623-4015.  We appreciate you transporting the bird to us.  If doing so:  NEVER TRANSPORT A BIRD IN YOUR TRUNK OR IN THE BACK OF AN OPEN PICKUP TRUCK. in the event you cannot provide transport, arrangements will be made by us to pick up the bird and transport it to our rehabilitation facilities.

 

Step 1: Use a lightweight blanket or jacket to complete cover the raptor.

Step 1: Use a lightweight blanket or jacket
to complete cover the raptor.

Step 2: Be sure the raptor's talons are covered and secured BEFORE you attempt to pick up the injured bird.

Step 2: Be sure the raptor's talons are covered and secured
BEFORE you attempt to pick up the injured bird.

Step 3: Transfer the injured raptor to a  box with holes before IMMEDIATELY transporting to a licensed rehabilitation center.

Step 3: Transfer the injured raptor to a  box with holes before IMMEDIATELY transporting to a licensed rehabilitation center.

 

RAPTOR EDUCATION GROUP, INC.  THANKS YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST ON BEHALF OF BIRDS OF PREY.

* Raptor Education Group, Inc. is licensed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to rehabilitate injured raptors.