Injured Birds

If you find an injured bird, make sure it is really injured before you act. Often the bird is simply stunned. It may fly away in a few minutes if you leave it alone. Birds often become stunned by flying into glass windows.

If the bird has a broken wing or other serious injury, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center. Be VERY careful around Hawks and Owls. Their sharp claws and beaks can do a lot of damage! Do not handle them yourself. Do not give an injured bird food or water. Keep children and pets away from the injured bird.

To transport the bird to a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, you may place the injured bird in a box with air holes or in a paper bag lined with soft tissues.

Please do not contact us for help with injured or nuisance wildlife – we’re not the experts! However, we’re happy to provide you with information to point you in the right direction.

Here are some links to help you find a Wildlife Rehabilitation center in your area:

  • Wildlife Rehabilitators Directory – USA.
  • Animal Sanctuaries and Wildlife Reserves.

Collisions – Towers and Buildings

Scientists estimate that between four and ten million birds collide with man-made towers each year. Most deaths occur during migration in inclement weather.

The collisions involve primarily night-migrating songbirds such as warblers, thrushes, vireos, tanagers, cuckoos, sparrows, etc.

Tall towers are necessary to provide cellular phone service and wireless Internet connections. New towers are being constructed at an alarming rate. Today, there are over 50,000 towers over 200 feet tall in the United States.

Tower warning lights that blink white or red seem to be less effective than white strobe lights.

To a much lesser extent, birds collide with wind turbines. Studies in California showed that 66% of the collisions involved raptors.

Diseased Birds

House Finch eye disease is the most common bird ailment you may encounter. The West Nile Virus and Lyme disease are much more of a threat to humans.

House Finch Eye Disease

Cornell Lab of Ornithology initiated a House Finch Disease Survey in 1994 to track the occurrence and distribution of ‘House Finch Eye Disease’. Actually the cause of the ‘disease’ is a bacterium called , Mycoplasma gallisepticum which typically causes respiratory ailments in domestic birds.

In House Finches, the disease is restricted to the eyes and sinus cavities. Recognizable symptoms are eyes that appear runny, crusted and swollen. The birds may also appear weakened or blinded. Other species besides House Finch that have been identified with the disease include American Goldfinch and Downy Woodpecker, both common feeder birds.

If you would like to participate in the House Finch Disease Survey or want more information, contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850; (607) 254-2483. Cornell has a special web page devoted to the disease.

To reduce disease potential, keep areas under feeders clean and occasionally wash feeders with bleach solutions and rinse. If disease appears epidemic, stop feeding immediately to curtail its transmission.

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus was first discovered in 1937 in Uganda. It has emerged in recent years in temperate regions of Europe and came to North America in 1999. the virus presents a threat to public, equine, and animal health. The most serious manifestation of the virus infection is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds. Infectious mosquitoes carry virus particles in their salivary glands and infect susceptible bird species during blood-meal feeding. The Center for Disease Control has a great deal of information on this disease.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by small deer ticks. Birders walking through grass can easily be infected. More than 100,000 cases have been reported since 1982. The Center for Disease Control has a great deal of information on this disease.

Bald Cardinals

Cardinals (and Blue Jays) may appear to have lost their head feathers in the summer. This reveals the dark skin beneath. This is just part of the bird’s annual postbreeding molt. All birds replace their feathers periodically. The loss of body or head feathers is seldom that obvious. Birds just look a bit ragged. But sometimes, for unclear reasons (feather lice may be implicated), cardinals drop their head feathers all at once. This might seem pretty traumatic, but the birds appear to take it in stride. And the feathers grow back well before cold weather arrives.