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05 September 2014

Friday Question from the Book of Questions If you walked out of your house one morning and saw a bird with a broken wing huddled in some bushes, what would you do?
I'm a total sucker for hurt animals. I'd be on the phone to the vet for advice about how to gather up the bird, then bringing it in for treatment, then doing all in my power to keep it healthy.
posted by bearwife 05 September | 11:39
Pretty close to what actually happened, only it was a pigeon on my porch with a head wound. I took it here, but alas it didn't survive.
posted by JanetLand 05 September | 12:41
When I found an injured wood pigeon a few years ago, I tried to catch it but it kept scuttling away until it was under some shrubs and I couldn't get to it. I had to leave for work and was convinced a cat would kill it during the day.

But when I got home, it had made its way from my back yard onto my front lawn where it was just sitting there with its damaged wing. I put it into a cat carrier and called the vet. They gave me the name of a bird rescue woman and I took it to her bird store (which was full of beautiful parrots and a few other injured and recovering wild birds).

She nursed the pigeon back to health and then released him, along with another couple of wood pigeons, in some nearby woods.
posted by Senyar 05 September | 13:57
I would take. these broken wings. and learn to fly again, learn to live and love so free.
posted by Eideteker 05 September | 16:28
Try to contain so it doesn't get killed and or eaten then call the avian rehab folks.
posted by arse_hat 05 September | 17:00
posted by Obscure Reference 05 September | 18:22
Oh, hells. Call a vet. If it looked nearly dead, I'd probably kill it, even though that makes me sound like a ghoul.
posted by gaspode 05 September | 23:07
This one actually has concrete answers. I don't know about other countries, but in the US there is a really robust network of wildlife-aid organizations. You can start with the vet, or if you don't have a vet, the library can help you find a wildlife center nearby. Another good call in the US is the nearest Humane Society or ASPCA. Wildlife centers, where they exist, are very ready for and attuned to these kinds of problems that aren't centered on domestic pets. "Wildlife center" or "wildlife rehab" are good search terms. In the US we also have the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Network which are just regular people who have been certified as volunteers who can take in and care for injured animals at their homes until such time as they're able to be set free. These folks are in every state.

Sometimes the center will ask you to catch and transport the animal to them. I did that once for a broken-wing seagull at my museum, and much earlier for an abandoned baby screech-owl that showed up on the steps of my college dorm. A brown paper bag worked for the screech-owl, he was easy to catch. We needed a bedsheet to catch the gull, and a dog carrier to put it in. Sadly, that gull was dehydrated by the time we captured it and later died.

Anyway, there is almost always a nonprofit entity that will help with wildlife problems.

We just saw a seagull with fishing line wrapped around its leg on the beach at Block Island, RI. It was limping, and we got close and the poor thing had really gotten this line knotted tightly around its leg. The leg above and below the line was badly swollen. I wrote to the wildlife center there about it, knowing they might have the capacity to trap it and help it. I didn't hear back, and I just hope the bird was OK. That kind of thing happens to so many seabirds. Ocean pollution, you suck. I wish I could have done something more to help and not sure it will ever get the help it needs. Emailing the local authorities was all we could really do. Life's rough out there :(
posted by Miko 05 September | 23:22
Honestly, I would look at it, not know whether I should do anything or what I should do, walk on, and then feel bad about it for the rest of the week.
posted by chrismear 06 September | 07:36
I would do what chrismear said, but probably not feel too bad because it's just a bird. Funny how I'd feel different if it was a bunny or cat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 06 September | 07:53
I was hesitant to say this until Chris posted his answer, but honestly speaking, I would not consider it necessary to interfere in whatever's going on in the life and death of the bird...
posted by Firas 06 September | 08:45
It probably sounds cold, but I suppose it would depend on what sort of bird it was. If it was something small and common, like a robin, starling, pigeon, sparrow, etc., I'd probably be inclined to leave it and let nature run its course. On the other hand, if I discovered something on the order of an injured red-shouldered hawk, or a barn owl on my porch, you bet I'd try to do something.
posted by Thorzdad 06 September | 09:11
When a small bird is just injured, like if it flew into a glass window and got stunned or has a messed-up wing that just got sprained, often it just needs some time to recover. In that case, if you can pick it up, you can put it into a dark covered box like a shoebox for an hour or two and let it get itself together. That will alllow it to get over the immediate problem and oftentimes, when you open the box, it'll fly away. The box is a humane thing to do because an injured bird just sitting out on a road or street is likely to be hawk food very shortly. The box gives it a safe place to recover that's dark and still.

For birds suffering from what's obviously human-caused depredation that could definitely not be considered nature taking its course, I feel a moral imperative to take some sort of action. Fishing line or hooks through the beak, for instance - that's not just nature culling the weak, it's lousy practices on the part of humans.
posted by Miko 06 September | 23:51
Toss a towel over it to capture it, bundle it into a carrier, and take it to a wildlife rehabilitator. I did this once with a pigeon that had probably been clipped by a car. I couldn't leave a live animal by the side of the road without at least trying to help. I doubt the pigeon made it (I saw blood on the towel from under the wing area), but I felt better about it.
posted by redvixen 07 September | 21:22
How many neighborhoods do you know the zip codes of? Why do you know them? || Letting go of a dream :-(