I’ve found a bird that has been hit by a car / I’ve just hit a bird with my car.


If you see a bird that has been hit by a car or you have hit a bird with your car, the best thing to do is to pull over somewhere safe or if it is safe on the road you are on then you can safely position your car with its hazard warning lights on to warn other road users, just as long as it doesn’t endanger you or other road users.

Then call your nearest Wildlife Rescue organisation so that they can attend and help you with the bird, only attempt to pick the bird up yourself if it safe for you to do so.

If it is safe then approach the bird quietly and check to see if it is still alive. If the bird is alive then you can pick it up with an old towel, blanket or jumper. It is very important to keep birds away from your face when handling them as birds will peck at anything shiny, your eyes being an obvious target. Also watch out for the talons on birds of prey (kestrels, owls, buzzards etc.) - these are very sharp and dangerous! Try to gently cover the bird up as much as you can to reduce stress, then place it somewhere dark and quiet (a box in the boot of your car or a pet carrier if you have one to hand).

Please do not talk to or stroke the bird as it will cause them a considerable amount of stress. Wait for Wildlife Rescue to arrive or alternatively you could take the bird to a nearby veterinary practice and ask them to refer it to a wildlife rescue organisation. 

If you are not comfortable picking the bird up then please just wait with the bird until Wildlife Rescue arrives to collect it. If the bird is dead and it is safe for you to pick it up please place it somewhere safe such as the side of the road, it will attract other species of wildlife to it (crows, foxes, badgers, owls etc.) it is safer for them there and reduces their risks of being hit by a car. 

How do I catch an injured bird?


Before attempting to capture a wild bird please observe and assess the situation first and remember your own safety is important. It is best to contact your local Wildlife Rescue first for advice as some birds do not need intervention and some birds can be very dangerous to capture on your own without the correct equipment (such as swans, birds of prey, herons etc.). If that is the case please follow your local Wildlife Rescue organisation's advice and act accordingly.

If the bird is obviously injured and is simple enough to catch then please follow the steps below: 

  • Get a container such as a shoe box, cardboard box or cat carrier. Ensure the container has ventilation such as small holes in the lid of a box. Also get a towel, blanket or pillowcase but ensure there aren’t any small holes or frays as this can cause damage to a bird’s feet & legs.
  • Have your container close by waiting ready & open.
  • Look for any obvious injuries and be careful not to further damage the bird when handling it. Approach the bird quietly with your towel, blanket or pillowcase and attempt to capture the bird from the direction it will naturally fly to.
  • Place the towel, blanket or pillowcase over the bird.
  • Wrap the bird carefully in the towel and place it into your waiting container.
  • Then place the container somewhere warm, dark and quiet. Keep it away from domestic pets and please do not stroke or talk to the animal as this will cause it a lot of stress.

After you have followed all of these steps you can take the bird to your local Wildlife Rescue or wait for them to arrive to collect the bird.


What do I do if my cat catches a bird?


If your cat catches bird or you see a cat catch a bird please pick the bird up using the steps we have given in the FAQ ‘How do I catch an injured bird?’ Once it is in your container please call your local Wildlife Rescue.

It is very important to bring these birds in for treatment because cats have a bacteria called ‘pasteurella multocida’ in their saliva and once this enters a bird's blood stream it can cause septicaemia which will prove fatal. An antibiotic must be administered to them quickly. Even if visibly you cannot see any obvious wounds there may be small tears in their skin that the bacteria could have entered through. If it is left untreated the bird could die within 48 hours, so it is very important not to re-release these birds or wait a few hours to see how they are. The sooner they receive treatment the better their chances are of survival.


I have found a racing pigeon, what do I do? 


Racing pigeons are classed as ‘pets’ because they have owners, which is why many wildlife rescues will not take these birds in for rehabilitation. 

Seahaven Wildlife Rescue usually take in and treat around 15 injured or sick racing pigeons per year with the permission of the owners or with a transfer of ownership. Many racing pigeon owners we have approached have been very helpful, paid for veterinary treatment and have come to collect their own birds.

If you find an injured racing pigeon it is a good idea to call your local wildlife rescue and to check to see if they do take them in or not. You can also take them to your local bird friendly vet who can provide them with basic first aid treatment and who will likely contact the owner.

It is common for racing pigeon owners to stamp their telephone number on the wing feathers or put their telephone number on a ring around the bird’s leg.  There will also be an identification number on a ring on the bird’s leg.  You can telephone the owner of the bird or you can trace the owner using the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (External Link). They will usually contact you back within 48 hours, however we strongly advise that on speaking to the owner that you check what will happen to the bird on its return. Unfortunately some racing pigeon owners do not want their birds back or they say they will be culled upon return - in this case there are some rescue centers that have the facilities to integrate the racing pigeons with wild feral pigeons so that they can be released into the wild without returning home, but you must have the owner’s permission to do so.

The best thing for the bird if the owner would like it back is for the owner to come and collect the bird in person or that they have a courier come and collect the bird - this ensures the bird’s safety.  We would advise against releasing the bird to fly home if it is injured or sick and  releasing an unfit bird could be a breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

If you see a racing pigeon that doesn’t appear to be injured and able to fly then it is to be presumed fit and well. In this case it is best left alone where it can decide to return home or it may even join up with the flock of local pigeons and live a wild life.


There is a bird trapped in netting / caught under netting, what do I do?


We receive many calls to birds tangled and trapped in netting on roofs of buildings.

It is very important in these scenarios to contact your local Wildlife Rescue organisation straight away and to stay on the scene until they arrive. Please do not attempt to free these birds yourself as many birds tangled or trapped in netting can be dehydrated, suffering from ligature wounds, very stressed and very weak depending on the period of time they have been tangled up.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are happy to help us rescue these birds when they are trapped in impossible hard to reach places!

Any netting left on the bird after the rescue will need to be removed by the Wildlife Rescue.

Birds trapped underneath the netting however are the responsibility of the land owner. This is mostly due to poor maintenance of netting on buildings such as tears and holes - the birds get in but they struggle to get back out again. If you spot any birds trapped underneath netting then please notify the landowner about this as many can be unaware that there are birds trapped. If you see any birds with their legs caught in the netting or hanging upside down then contact your local Wildlife Rescue immediately as the bird will need urgent help. 

Under the Animal Welfare Act the landowner must provide trapped birds with food & water until they can arrange for the bird to be freed. In some cases they can cut the netting themselves to free the bird or they can arrange for Wildlife Rescue or the RSPCA to attend and free the trapped birds. Once the birds have been released the landowner should then repair their netting to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

end faq

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