What to do if you find an injured bird

April 7, 2016 7:36 pm

Saving Little Collared Doves


As I’ve mentioned before, I volunteer at my local wild bird rehabilitation centre and I have trained to be part of the meds team. This means I treat and fix up the birds that come in to the sanctuary, everything from giving them antibiotics to strapping broken legs. Its a rewarding job even if it can be very stressful at times, especially when Spring hits and baby season begins. Today I found a young collared dove at the side of the road that was in need of help. I will be giving some pointers on how to know what to do if you find an injured bird

Collard dove

When I got off the bus today I saw a young collard dove sitting on the pavement, everyone was walking past him and even letting their pet dogs come up to him.

Step 1.

If the bird is hunched up and not moving on the ground, then something is probably wrong.

I went over to the bird careful not to startle him, but encouraging him to fly. He just waddled along, not attempting to fly away.

Step 2.

If the bird is fully feathered and can’t fly, something is probably wrong.

Carefully I picked the bird up by placing both hands over the wing; thumbs over the wing, hands wrapping around underneath to support the feet.

Step 3.

Check over the bird. Are there any signs of blood? Are there feathers missing? Is the bird limp, not moving much?

In this little guy’s case he had small puncture wounds to the bottom of his back and under one wing and feathers missing from his tail. He was also missing a couple of flight feathers. These signs all point to being caught by a cat.

Collard dove injuries

Step 4.

Put the bird in a dark box with a towel in the bottom to stop him sliding around. Keep him warm and find your nearest bird/wildlife rehabilitation centre. Failing that, your local vet should be able to help or point you in the right direction.

With cat bites, although the wounds can looks quite small, they will need medical attention right away. Cat saliva can lead to septicemia and can kill a bird very quickly if the wounds are not cleaned and antibiotics are not provided. The quicker we can get antibiotics in a bird the better the rate of survival.


Little Bill has been with us for a week now.  He has scabs where the cat bites where and no signs of septesemia. He has gotten a little ear infection but this has almost gone now. So all he has to do now is learn to eat like an adult collard dove and grew some new tail feathers and he will be good to go 🙂

Update 2:

Little Bill has now been released with 2 other collard doves. He is having loads of fun sun bathing in the garden 🙂