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What should I do if I find an injured bird?

A Brown Creeper with head trauma.
(Photo: Geoff Robinson/FLAP)

When a bird hits a building it needs a quiet, dark, safe place to rest and recuperate. If you find a bird on the ground by a building, gently place the bird inside an un-waxed paper bag or a small cardboard box. Handle the bird as little as possible. Make sure that the bag or box is closed. If you’re using a cardboard box, poke a few air holes so the bird can breathe. Use clean tissues or paper towels, rolled into a donut shape, as a perch for the bird to sit upright. Never feed the bird or give it water.

If the bird recovers after one hour, you will hear it fluttering inside the bag or box.

Take the bird to a park, a ravine or another open area far away from windows and buildings. Slowly open the bag or box and let the bird fly out. You have just saved the life of a migratory bird.

If the bird remains unresponsive after one hour, has swollen eyes, a chipped or cracked beak or broken bones, take it to your local wildlife rehabilitation facility.

How NOT to release a bird! Right click on image and select 'Show Controls' to play again.
(Video: Big Bend Birds and nature)

What should I do if I find a baby bird?

Some tiny birds, such as wrens and warblers, look like baby birds even though they are mature. If you find a bird sitting under a window and it does not move when you approach, most likely the bird is an adult bird that has hit the window. Follow the above instructions on what to do when you find an injured bird.

If you find a featherless baby bird, and you know where the nest is, place the baby bird back in the nest. The parent birds will not smell your scent and reject the bird. If you cannot find the nest, make one out of a small basket or flowerpot lined with leaves or dry grass. Place the substitute nest close to the area where you found the baby bird, and watch for parents to come back to feed their baby.

If the baby bird is feathered and has just left the nest, it may be on the ground waiting for its parents. The best thing to do is leave the bird for the parents to care for and feed. If you believe the bird is in danger from roaming cats or other predators, place it high up on a tree branch where it will be safe. If you are still concerned (perhaps the parents have not returned for a long time) contact your local wildlife rehabilitation facility for advice.

birds keep tapping and pecking at my window. What can I do to discourage them?

Many people become alarmed or annoyed when a bird taps or pecks at their window in the spring. When a bird pecks at your window, it is fighting what it perceives to be an intruder. The bird doesn't understand that it is attacking its own reflection; it is simply defending its territory. This territorial reaction may be so strong that the bird exhausts itself or sustains mild abrasions, but the behaviour usually doesn't result in fatal injury.

Both males and females birds may exhibit this behaviour, especially those species that nest close to our homes such as American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Chipping Sparrows, and Song Sparrows.

Here are some tips on how to stop birds from tapping at their reflection in your window:

  • Cover the outside of your window with netting or fabric to obscure the bird’s reflection.
  • Shine a lamp out through the window during the day to create a bright glare and mute reflection.
  • Cover the outside of your window with CollidEscape