WSU Raptor Club | Finding an injured Raptor

If You Find an Injured Raptor...

Finding an injured raptor can be overwhelming. Before attempting anything, it is critical that you make sure the bird is clearly injured. Young birds when learning to fly, get away from their nest and sit on the ground to rest. They may return to their nest or be taken care of by their parents on the ground. Please make sure something is VISIBLY wrong, such as the bird is having trouble walking or cannot fly, before capturing a bird because it may be completely healthy. Do not attempt to capture an injured raptor unless you feel comfortable! Contact the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711 if you have any questions or concerns. And please, use extreme caution!!

Alaska Air generously donates round trip air transportation at NO COST for raptors to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for treatment, rehabilitation, and release back to native habitats. Injured raptors anywhere within the Alaska Air service area can be quickly and conveniently flown to us so we can provide the proper care. If you have a bird you would like to transport via Alaska Air, please contact Dr. Nickol Finch at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to make arrangements.

    An adult should grasp the raptor with both hands using the blanket or thick jacket, making sure to keep the wings folded in. Wearing thick, leather gloves will provide the most protection if at all possible. Use caution because the raptor will try to defend itself by using its talons and is capable of injuring you in the process.

    Place the raptor in a cardboard box or a hard plastic animal kennel (not wire!) large enough for the bird to stand up in. If placing in a cardboard box, please make sure to provide the bird with small holes cut near the bottom. NEVER place a raptor in a wire cage because the wire damages their feathers. Keep the box in a quiet, warm, dark place, away from other animals or danger. If a box is not available, hold the raptor firmly in the blanket or jacket until turning it over to a veterinarian for proper care. Keep its head covered and maintain a secure hold of its feet. 

    DO NOT attempt to offer food as if the bird is dehydrated it may not be able to digest it. Attempting to feed the bird may kill it! Water may be offered and is often readily accepted by dehydrated birds.

    Alert them that you have found an injured raptor and get approval to transport it to a veterinarian for further care.

    Helping injured birds of prey is not an easy thing, but many times it provides these birds with a second chance. Also, when bringing in an injured raptor, we ask if you would like to be present in the case that release of the animal is possible. This is a wonderful, exciting opportunity, of which you will be notified of and invited to participate in.

CAUTION: All native birds are protected in the United States under the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 - even those species that have a designated hunting season. It is ILLEGAL to harass, catch, possess, or house raptors without special permits. Violations of this law, including the shooting of a bird or even owning a feather from a bird, are extreme and involve high monetary penalties or even imprisonment. Do not risk it!!

Do not attempt to care for an injured raptor! Raptors require a well balanced diet and many die because people take them in and try to care for them. Please turn any raptor over to a licensed rehabilitator IMMEDIATELY for proper care.

Washington State University