Contact a South Dakota Game, Fish and
Parks Wildlife Conservation Officer, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee,
or another wildlife expert. Please do not attempt to rehabilitate birds on your
Some tips for handling injured
Please do not attempt to rehabilitate a raptor on your own. Always
contact a licensed professional. If you are unsure of who to notify contact an
appropriate agency in your area, such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS), your state's Department of Natural Resources or Department of Game,
Fish and Parks, or your local sheriff's office.
If you must handle or move a bird, first cover the bird with a
blanket or towel to reduce its visual stimulation, and protect yourself by
wearing heavy gloves and safety glasses. Then, gently fold the bird's wings
into its body with your two gloved hands and gently but firmly lift the bird
into a transport container. Remember: Even a seriously injured raptor is
potentially dangerous. Wild birds do not understand that we are trying to help
and will defend themselves. They are quite unpredictable, and you should be
especially aware of their sharp beak and talons.
The best way to transport a raptor is in a plastic dog or cat
kennel, or a sturdy cardboard box. Avoid bird or wire cages as these can cause
feather and soft tissue damage. The carrier should have plenty of ventilation
holes and should only be slightly larger than the size of the bird. The less
room an injured bird has to move around, the less likely it is to cause more
injury to itself. However, if a container is too small, a bird can sustain
extensive wing and feather damage.
Never feed an injured raptor unless you have been instructed to do
so by a licensed rehabilitator. The dietary needs of raptors are more
delicately balanced than people realize. Even the juiciest steak imaginable
will not provide a raptor with what it needs. Also, most injured birds are
suffering from dehydration, and attempting to feed them or give them water
orally may worsen their condition. If a bird has not eaten for a while, its
digestive system shuts down and it cannot handle any food. At The Raptor
Center, these patients are given a special fluid therapy for a day or two to
jump-start their systems before any type of food is provided.
Handle an injured raptor as little as possible. Stress resulting
from human contact can reduce a bird's chance of recovery.
Until the bird can be transferred, provide it with a dark, quiet,
calm, warm environment. Darkness has a calming effect on birds. Extra care
should be taken to keep the bird away from children and pets.
Do not keep a raptor any longer than is necessary to get it to a
veterinary professional, raptor rehabilitator, or state/federal wildlife