It is advisable to use soft, ravel-free cloth (such as fleece, pillowcase or t-shirt) to capture the bird. This will help to protect the bird’s wings and helps keep it calm. Gently cup the bird in your hands and place in appropriate housing. Do not pet the bird with the intention of comforting. Unnecessary handling is very stressful to wild birds.
The safest place to house a wild bird is in a closed cardboard box (one with flaps you can close and no holes). Line it with a soft cloth or pine straw and keep it in a secure, warm and quiet place. Do NOT offer food or water to the bird.
If it is after AWC’s admissions hours of 8:00AM-6:00PM, keep the bird overnight in the closed cardboard box in a warm (not hot!) and quiet place away from any household pets and curious children. Do NOT cut holes in the box – there is plenty of air and bird head, wings, or feet can Do not delay in transporting the bird to our facility – any unnecessary delay in needed medical care and appropriate food/water can result in irreversible damage to the bird.
Suggested Box Sizes
Small birds (Wren, Sparrow)......................minimum size: 18" x 18" x 18"
Medium birds (Blue Jay, Robin)........................minimum size: 2' x 2' x 2'
Large birds (Pileated Woodpecker, Crow)........minimum size: 3' x 3' x 3'
Never put a wild bird in a wire cage, because it will cause extra stress and may cause additional damage to the bird.
Keep it quiet in your vehicle (don’t play music/radio). Be sure to secure the box so that it doesn’t slide around when you brake or turn. Keep the box covered with a large cloth to help keep it very dark inside, which will help to calm the bird. The noise of the car alone is very stressful, so it is helpful to the bird for you to maintain a quiet, dark trip.
Still Have Questions?
If you're unsure if the bird needs your help or have questions about handling it, please call our Wildlife Help Line - 205-663-7930, Ext. 2. You must leave a message on this line to be assisted by a trained Wildlife specialist. Specialists are busy caring for animals and monitor this line and return calls at least every hour from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. The only way to talk to a Wildlife specialist is to leave a message, and they will return your call as soon as they can.