When to Help Garden Birds

Garden birds refers to the sort of birds you might find visiting your garden e.g. sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, tits, finches, crows, magpies, woodpigeons etc. This article provides advice on when to help adults of these species – for advice on when to help a baby garden bird, please see here.

Garden birds often need help after cat attacks or flying into windows.


When to rescue #

Birds caught by a cat or dog
Any bird caught by a predator will need to be checked for injuries and given antibiotics. Bacteria on the cat’s teeth can cause fatal septicaemia if they get into the bloodstream.

Birds hit by a car
They may be lucky and escape major injury but it’s best they go to rescue for treatment for shock at the very least.

Any bird with an obvious injury
Such as a dropped wing, leg injury or obvious wound. The bird will need specialist treatment and rehabilitation.

An adult bird which can be easily approached
All garden birds should naturally be fearful of people. If an adult allows you to get close and cannot or does not try to escape, there is a serious issue and the birds needs help.

A grounded swift
These red-listed birds cannot easily take off from the ground. Sometimes they just need help getting air borne again but it’s best that a rescue checks them over first in case there is a medical reason why they ended up grounded.

A bird with visible growths around its face or legs
The bird may be suffering from trichomoniasis or pox, both of which are fatal without treatment.


When to take other action #

A bird which has flown into a window
There’s detailed advice about this scenario here.


When to leave alone #

A bird which looks ‘scruffy’ around the head and neck area

Many species moult at the end of the breeding season (late Summer/early Autumn) which can leave them looking pretty tatty. This is normal, though, and nothing to worry about.

Finding Help #

You can find details of rescues in your area by searching our directory. If you're unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, we have information about sources of bespoke help. We also have articles with detailed, practical advice about capturing an animal, providing short term care, contacting a wildlife rescue, and getting the animal to them.

Updated on May 28, 2024