What to Do If You Find an Injured Bird
The most common reason for finding an injured adult bird is due to a collision with glass. Up to 230,000 birds collide with glass each year in New York City!
The following are characteristics of an injured adult bird in need of assistance:
- Lying on its side
- Allowing humans to closely approach
- Attempting but failing to fly
- Bloody or with apparent wounds
- Visible broken legs or drooping wings
- Swollen or closed eyes
If you have determined that the bird needs assistance, approach it from behind, cup your hands around it, and gently place it in a box or unwaxed paper bag. Paper bags are particularly good because the bird is less likely to injure itself if they jump around in the bag, and because unwaxed paper is breathable, it does not need additional punched holes. Do not attempt to give the bird food or water.
Now that you have the bird secured, it needs to get to a professional bird rehabber. See our list of animal hospitals and rehabilitation centers in New York City and information on our injured bird transporter volunteer group. We also encourage you to report birds injured by collision to our crowd-sourced bird collision data collection tool and database, dBird.org.
￼This Northern Parula was found stunned in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Conservation Biologist Kaitlyn Parkins helped it safely recover at the office before releasing it back into the wild in Madison Square Park, pictured here. Photo: NYC Audubon
What to Do If You Find a Stunned Adult Bird
Sometimes an injured bird on the ground is just stunned, meaning it is "knocked out" and just needs a safe place to rest before gathering its wits and flying off again. If the bird just seems stunned, it is important to get it off the ground so that it is not stepped on by passersby on the sidewalk, picked up by a dog or cat, or swept up by building cleaning staff before it recovers.
To ensure its safety while it recovers, place it in a bag and move it to a safe, quiet place for about an hour. If you hear the bird moving around and it seems completely alert and active, take it to a safe location outdoors, such as a park, and open the bag to release it (never toss a bird into the air). Otherwise, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
In the video below, Senior Conservation Biologist Kaitlyn Parkins gives detailed guidance on what to do if you find a stunned bird and when it is safe to release the bird back into the wild.
For additional advice during business hours, you can contact our office at 212.691.7483 x312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Having photos of the bird available will help our staff to provide appropriate guidance.