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A Guide to the Rehabilitation of Barn Owls and Other Raptors

a Bio-Diversity Products Website


"Help! There is an owl on the ground!"

Capturing and Transporting a Barn Owl

Issues Relative to Wildlife Rehabilitation

What to Do In a Wildlife Emergency

Locating a wildlife rehabilitator in your area

Tips for Handling Injured Raptors

by The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

  1. Always contact a professional. DO NOT attempt to rehabilitate the bird on your own. Contact the Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory and turn to their page How to Locate a Wildlife Rehabilitator to find a center in your area. Other appropriate agencies would be the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; your state's Fish and Game, Natural Resources or Parks Department; your local sheriff's office.
  2. NEVER feed an injured bird. The dietary needs of raptors are more delicately balanced than many people realize. Even the best imaginable steak will not provide the bird with what it needs. Also, most injured birds are suffering from dehydration, and attempting to feed or water the bird may kill it, as it is probably not yet able to digest solid food or even plain water. Often, when an injured bird arrives at the Raptor Center, it is given a special fluid therapy for several days before we attempt to feed it.
  3. Handle the wild bird only if necessary. The less you handle it, the more likely it will be to survive. If you must handle or move a bird, be extremely careful. Wear heavy gloves if possible. We recommend that you wrap the injured bird in a blanket, towel, coat or other cloth for protection. Gently fold the birds wings back against its body.
  4. The best way to transport a bird is in a cardboard box with plenty of ventilation holes cut in it, particularly near the base of the box. The box should be only slightly larger than the bird, and ideally, the bird should be carefully wrapped in a cloth for protection. The less room the bird has to move around, the less likely it is to cause injury to itself. The birds wings and feathers are very vulnerable to damage if the bird panics and begins to thrash about in a confined area. For this reason, we recommend that you DO NOT use wire cages.
  5. Provide the bird with a calm. Quiet environment, but DO NOT keep the bird any longer than is necessary to get it to a veterinary professionally trained to treat birds of prey. The bird should be kept warm, dark, quiet place. Darkness has a calming effect on birds and quiet is important because of the bird's extremely sensitive hearing. Extra care should be taken to keep the bird away from children and pets.