facts and care advice

Birds General

Whenever a wild bird is rescued, you can be sure that it will be having some form of trauma and you will have to consider:

  • what sort of bird is it ?
  • what does it eat?
  • has its food supply run out and it is starving?
  • where does it normally live? 
  • is it injured? keep checking as it may have more than one injury or problem.
  • is it sick? 
  • is it too young or can it just be placed back into the nest or onto a branch?
  • is it dying of old age?
  • has it just had a hard time following a storm or suffering heat exhaustion ?
  • is it diseased?

Some birds become lost in migration and get into trouble when they land in locations where they can’t get going again. (e.g. shearwaters and grebes landing on wet roads because they look like waterways).

The birds can react in many different ways. Some will behave friendly as if it were a pet, some will lie still, while others panic and go crazy. Speak quietly and operate in a steady manner. Do not have loud music or noise that will distress the birds.

Wrapping the bird in a towel or the like will stop it beating its wings and keep the feet under control so it can be further examined.

Safety first….make sure of your own safety, and don’t become a victim too.

Some birds can lash out with beaks and claws. Make sure you’ve had your tetanus shots.

Phone the Fauna Rescue Hotline: 8289 0896 OR take the bird to a local vet. Most vets will not charge for surrendering an injured wild animal. 


  • Treating for stress and shock

    Shock is often the number one cause of death in injured wild birds. You need to immediately minimise that bird’s shock and stress. 

    Shock is essentially the loss of heat and fluids from the body, which is a natural response to injury. Interaction with humans causes additional stress to an injured animal and this can kill an already shocked animal.

    So keep in mind that fear, noise, and cold temperatures all contribute to the animal’s stress. It is essential to get the animal to an experienced carer as soon as possible to minimise stress and to reduce the risk of the animal going into shock.

  • General Conditions

    The condition of the bird can be assessed by the appearance of feathers and by the amount of flesh on each side of the chest keel bone.

    When the chest area is felt, if the keel bone is quite sharp and there doesn’t appear to be much flesh on the chest, then the bird is probably in a fairly run down state. We can assume that the bird hasn’t eaten for some time and /or it may be unable to eat for some reason, have parasites or worms, an injury, or have some other illness.

    Feathers should be inspected for lice and other parasites and general condition. Quite often waterbirds in poor condition are heavily infested with unwanted parasites.

    The condition of the feathers also can tell us if it is moulting, a juvenile, or have some other problem.

    Weigh the bird with suitable scales and record the results so that you are able to observe just how well your patient is progressing.


If you find a bird on the ground you should first try to ascertain:

Is the bird injured?

  • If an adult bird has been injured try to assess the injury – bleeding or a bad dog/cat attack on the bird should be seen by a vet as soon as possible. Most vets will not charge a member of the public for dropping off an injured bird.  Badly broken wings or limbs should also been seen by a vet as soon as possible.  For minor injuries like heat stress or minor cuts or abrasions please call the Fauna Rescue hotline.

Is it a fledgling learning to fly?

  • If a feathered baby bird is found on the ground, wait for up to an hour if you can to make sure parent birds are returning to feed and protect the fledgling. If the parents do not return, something may have happened to them and the baby bird will need to come into care. Returning fledglings to their nest is not recommended as they are likely to immediately jump out again. Try to avoid making the bird a human-made orphan.

Is it a baby fallen from its nest?

  • Unfeathered birds should never be on the ground – try to put it back into the nest – parent birds will not reject the baby.  If you can’t put it back in the nest the baby bird needs to come into care urgently.  Please call the Fauna Rescue Hotline 82890896

All birds if injured, sick or babies need to be kept warm until you can get help 

  • Place the bird into a towel, jacket, small box and sit it on top of a hot water bottle filled with hot tap water (not boiling), and put into a box to keep it contained. Contact Fauna Rescue to arrange a carer.


  • It is important that birds that need care are correctly identified to ensure it is fed the correct food.  For example Lorikeets should not be given seeds as they tend to damage the fine bristles on the end of the lorikeets tongue and they are then unable to lick the nectar from flowers. Identification can be difficult, however Fauna Rescue have a number of bird carers who can assist with identification of birds.


  • It is always best to contact Fauna Rescue of SA for advice on 08 8289 0896.


Injured Wildlife Hotlines

Wildlife Rescue:
(08) 8289 0896
Koala Rescue:
1300 KOALAS (562 527)
Bat Rescue:
(08) 8486 1139


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