Injured or broken wings can be very traumatic for birds, especially to wild species that rely on flying to survive. In this article, we will show you how to help a bird with a broken wing and how to take care of it. Whether you are a bird lover or a stranger to birds, if you want to help a bird with a broken wing, it is critical to take precautions to minimize injury and prevent additional harm.
First, you need to determine whether the bird is wild or domesticated. If you believe the bird can be rehabilitated, wrap it in a clean cloth and place it inside a box. You must ensure that the bird is kept warm and out of reach from other pets and children. After that, instead of trying to fix a bird’s broken wing yourself, you should call the veterinarian or the local wildlife rescue team for professional help.
Table of Contents
- How to Tell If a Bird Has a Broken Wing: Observing Before Acting
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Tell If a Bird Has a Broken Wing: Observing Before Acting
Sometimes fledglings leave their nest prematurely in the late spring and summer. Because they are unable to fly, these baby birds are often confused as wounded birds at this stage. Therefore, you can possibly spend about an hour observing the bird. If it can wander, flap the wings, or its parents are around, you may leave the bird for their parents to take care of it.
For large birds of prey such as falcons, eagles, or owls, they may spend hours perching on a tree, looking for prey, or consuming the food they have already devoured. This is normal, the bird is healthy and will fly away soon.
Injured birds are often found unable to fly on the ground from September to May (during the autumn, winter, and spring). You should approach the bird slowly, and you can assume that there is something amiss if the bird does not fly away within 3 meters.
If the bird appears disoriented, startled, or comatose, it might be in trauma and suffering from more ailments than simply a broken wing. If the bird is conscious and trying to flee, these are positive indications. It would help if you looked for any bleeding or wounds that help to determine the bird’s condition.
After observing and making sure that the bird is injured, follow the next steps:
Step 1: Capturing injured birds
A wounded bird will only be treated if it is captured. Because a bird with a wing injury will frequently hop and run around, it is not easy to catch the bird regardless of how it would benefit from rehabilitation or not. Negligent handling can lead to additional harm. Thus, careful handling is required and varies upon the bird size.
- Small birds can be handled with one hand: Placing your palm over its head so that the head is between your index and middle finger. Other fingers will cover the bird’s wings, securely gripping the bird.
- Larger birds should be carried with both hands. However, if you are not experienced in handling large birds, you should contact a wildlife specialist rather than catching the bird yourself.
Step 2: Taking the necessary precautions
- Put on gloves while you are handling the bird. According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, you should never pick up a wild bird with bare hands. Birds may transmit various diseases so it is better to protect yourself, even when you are attempting to rescue the bird.
- Another reason to wear gloves is that the injured birds may be frightened and strike out at you if they feel defenseless. Remember to promptly wash your hands after touching the bird.
- Do not put the bird close to your face because small birds also have razor-sharp beaks. You should always keep an injured bird at a distance from your face and eyes when handling it. Even when it is your pet bird, it may snap at you.
- Do not give food or drink to the bird. A wounded bird is usually too terrified to eat or drink, it may choke if you try to force-feed it. You should try to provide the bird the assistance it needs quickly.
Step 3: Taking care of the bird
- Wrap the bird with a clean cloth or towel. The injured bird will feel better knowing that it is being protected. The bird will stay calmer and move less, therefore not hurting itself. You need to gently cover the broken wing and keep it against the bird’s body until you meet the veterinarian or the rehabilitator.
- Gently place the bird into a box. Before placing the bird into the shoebox, you should put a towel on the bottom for more comfort. You should make sure the box has a tight lid, so the bird does not escape easily. The most important thing is that you have to create small air holes so it can breathe.
- Provide an additional heat source. Due to the bird’s fragile condition, it may require further assistance to stay warm. You can help by placing a warm or hot water bottle inside the box, but remember to check whether it is overheating.
- Keep the bird out of reach of children and pets. While you are figuring out what to do next or trying to contact professional help, place the box in a safe and quiet area so it can feel relaxing.
Step 4: Getting expert’s help
- Consult your local veterinarian or avian expert for advice if the injured bird is domesticated. Some veterinarians provide free treatment such as antibiotics or life-saving surgeries. The vets rarely house the injured bird until it completely heals, but they are willing to care and support.
- Seek assistance from your local wildlife rescue team if you found a bird with a broken wing in the wild (or the bird belongs to any wild species). The wildlife rescue team has a variety of services such as one-time medical help, lodging, rehabilitation and on-going medical services during rehabilitation.
- If you have concluded that the bird’s injury does not appear to be serious, find out more about the rescue’s euthanasia. Some wildlife rehabilitators assume that birds with broken wings can never be happy again because they can not fly like they used to be.
Meanwhile, others feel that birds can still be happy after healing from broken wings. Maybe it was the feeling when Don Francisco sang “Bird with broken wing”, a song about healing and deliverance.
It is debatable whether wild birds that cannot regain their fly ability should be euthanized or given refuge. However, we believe that this should be examined case by case, or at least on a specific basis. For instance, waterfowl seldom fly and generally do not depend on flying to escape from predators. Thus, they can be moved to a safer lake or pond.
Even though you are not encouraged to fix an injured bird wing yourself, in the rare case when you cannot reach any vet or wildlife rescue team, check out the video from Robert Family Racing Pigeons on how to bind a broken wing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the broken wing heal itself?
A badly damaged wing cannot heal itself, it must be cared for at home or by a veterinarian. To heal faster, a damaged wing should not be touched often.
How long does it take for the broken wing to heal?
Treating a bird’s broken wing is not as simple as fixing a broken wing fallen order from the Star Wars Game. The healing process depends on the size of the injured wing. Larger birds’ broken wings heal more slowly. Typically, it takes one to three weeks for the birds to recover. You should often take the bird to the local vet during this period.
We hope you find this article helpful in guiding how to help a bird with a broken wing. First, you need to catch the injured bird gently, then wrap it carefully and put it in a shoebox. Next, while contacting the wildlife specialists, you need to ensure that the bird is kept warm in a safe and quiet area.
If you have any questions or want to share your experience about helping a broken wing bird, feel free to leave comments in our discussion “Found a bird with a broken wing” below!
Besides, you also can refer more to our other articles that are related to bird behavior:
- Ways to save a baby bird from dying.
- Find a baby bird and what to do with it.
- How to know if a baby bird is dying?
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.