Oiled Birds

We’ve all seen the images of sea birds covered in oil following shipping disasters. But this a potential hazard facing birds further in land as well.

From time to time rivers and lakes can also be affected by pollution. This isn’t always cause for concern. There is a phenomenon known as “urban run off” which occurs after heavy rainfall. Essentially, the rain washes the oil from the roads down the drains and into rivers. The water then gets the tell tale light reflecting film on it and looks like it is severely polluted. In fact this level of contamination is unlikely to cause the birds any real harm.


When to Intervene #

In the following circumstances please notify both a local wildlife rescue and the Environment Agency

  • There’s a strong smell of oil or other chemicals coming from the water
  • You can see oil on the birds’ plumage
  • The birds look waterlogged or are sitting low in the water
  • The birds look generally unwell

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.

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Updated on May 6, 2024