Before you do anything, call Smoky Mountain Raptor Center at 865-680-9623. One of our professionals will be able to evaluate the situation and advise of the best course of action to be taken. Please keep all of your cats and dogs in the house or on a leash until we assist you! If you cannot reach us at the phone number above you can send us a text message at the same number 865-680-9623. Emails are not an efficient way to contact us for emergencies.
BE SURE THE BIRD NEEDS TO BE RESCUED
In many cases, it may be normal behavior to be on the ground (this is called fledging). You may find a raptor that has flown into a window, been caught by a cat, tangled in fencing, or hit by a car. However, raptors on the ground may not be hurt. Well-meaning people have collected a bird of prey thinking it is injured or orphaned, without realizing that the parents are watching. Observe from a distance and outside of the parents view to see if the parents return with food.
WHAT YOU SHOULD OBSERVE
Approach carefully. A healthy bird will usually fly away or make an aggressive posture if it is eating. If it is a young raptor, it may be learning to fly. Often, the parents encourage the fledglings to find hidden spots away from the nest, reducing the chance of being taken by a predator. If the raptor appears healthy (no obvious broken wings), there are no cats in the area and the parents are nearby please leave the bird alone and if you wish to observe the wonders of their growth, do so at a distance and behind something so the parents are not more concerned about your presence than about caring for their young.
*******It is not true that the parents will abandon their young if they are touched by a human.
BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL!
If you do need to pick up the bird in order to get it help, please call us so we can walk you through the process. Handling an injured raptor can be very dangerous, not only to the bird but to the rescuer. Keep yourself safe! An injured raptor does not understand that you are trying to help. The moment you approach the bird it will usually take measures to protect itself. It may even attack you using its strong feet and talons. The bird’s strong beak can cause serious injury to a human. The use of heavy gloves and a blanket is highly recommended. Prepare a box prior to the rescue with ventilation holes with a towel or newspapers on the bottom.
HOW TO APPROACH THE BIRD
If possible, approach the bird from the rear. Carefully and quickly place the blanket or sheet over the entire bird. The raptor will attempt to grab anything within reach of its feet. You should attempt to avoid the feet by grabbing the bird firmly from behind on the sides of the body and holding its wings close to the bird’s body. Pick the bird up and place it carefully in the prepared box. Carefully remove the covering and quickly close the box top.
ONCE YOU CAPTURE THE BIRD
Do not handle or look at the bird anymore than is necessary, as it is highly stressful to the bird. Place the box in a dark, quiet place away from extreme temperatures. Do not attempt to force the bird to eat or drink. If you are transporting the bird to Smoky Mountain Raptor Center, speak quietly and do not play your car radio or drive with your windows open. Do not place the box on a person’s lap. NEVER transport a raptor that is not in a box or otherwise restrained. Once received by Smoky Mountain Raptor Center, the raptor will receive the treatment necessary for recovery to be released again into its natural habitat.
If the bird you have rescued has a broken wing it needs to be taken to UT Veterinary College as we are not equipped for this type of injury. Please call them to advise them you are coming 865-974-8387. Their address is 2407 River Dr., Knoxville, TN.