Raptor Rescue Questions
Found an injured raptor? Call us at 469-964-9696.
What to do if you find a baby raptor
1) Look for any sign of injury
If the bird is injured (bleeding, been attacked by a cat or other animal, or some other obvious injury), it needs to get to BPRC, a raptor rehabilitator or wildlife veterinarian. BPRC partners with many city animal control offices, veterinarians and other rehabilitators in the area to get injured raptors to us. Some of our local animal control partners include Plano, Richardson, Allen and Collin County. In Dallas, Eastlake Veterinary Hospital near White Rock Lake, and Summertree Bird Clinic at Inwood and the Tollway, will accept injured raptors – but they must be dropped off at their locations.
2) If you see no injury, then is the bird completely feathered?
If it is, it is probably fine. Baby birds that are learning to fly (known as a fledgling) often end up on the ground. It is a normal stage in learning for birds. It takes practice to fly (just like humans fall down a lot learning to walk). As long as it appears uninjured, leave it alone, do your best to make sure other people or animals aren’t in the area that could harm it, and then leave the area. Parent’s won’t feed or approach a baby while people are around.
3) If it has little or no feathering, then try to find the nest.
The best thing for a baby bird at this stage (known as a nestling) is being in its nest. Look up in the nearest trees or bushes. These are some examples of raptors that need to go back in their nests; Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk.
These are examples of the same species when they are old enough to be left alone (Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl and Cooper’s Hawks).
4) If you find the nest, go ahead and put the baby back in the nest.
It is a myth that birds can smell human scent and won’t take care of it (most birds have a terrible sense of smell). Wear heavy gloves (to protect you from raptor talons) gently put it back.
5) Can I make a nest?
If you can’t find the nest, or it is unreachable, you can make a substitute nest. Steps for putting up a nest basket:
- Use a small berry basket or plastic basket (put drain holes in the bottom)
- Attach it to the tree as high as possible using zip ties and rope, and as close to the original nest or as close to where the nestling was found.
- Fill it with small branches and leaves.
- Gently put the nestling(s) back
Once it is back in its nest, or in the nest you have created, leave it alone. Birds will not return if you are in the area. If you can watch from an indoor location, that is fine. Don’t worry if the parents don’t return right away. It can take quite some time for a parent to be comfortable in approaching.
The best chance for baby birds to survive is to leave them alone. In most cases, a baby bird that somebody tries to raise will die. And in many cases, if the bird survives being hand-raised, once released back into the wild it won’t have the proper skills to survive. Remember, the parents are the best teachers!
Remember: Attempting to raise a wild bird is illegal unless you have obtained the proper federal and state permits to do so.
BPRC partners with many organizations and animal control services to receive raptors. Please click here to go to our injured/orphaned page for help. Want more information about becoming a wildlife rehabilitator? Contact your state’s wildlife agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife or U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
What are raptors?
Raptors are birds of prey in the orders falconiformes and strigiformes. In English, that means eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, osprey, kites, and others.
The main feature of a raptor is a hooked beak and long, sharp talons.
Do you handle only raptors?
Yes, we are licensed for raptors only. We cannot accept or keep any other kind of bird.