When to Help Owls and Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey refers to birds such as kestrels and hawks as well as owls.

Whilst these pages are primarily concerned with wild animals, it is not uncommon for captive bred birds to fly away from their handlers and become disorientated so we also touch on what to do in that situation.

This page covers adult birds. If you need help with a baby bird of prey or owl, please see here.


When to rescue #

If the bird has been caught by a cat or dog
Any bird which has been bitten by a cat, regardless of species, will need rescue and treatment. There are bacteria on cat’s teeth which will pass into the bird’s bloodstream when it is bitten. Without antibiotics within a few hours of the attack the bird may develop fatal septicaemia. Any bird caught by a dog should be properly assessed for injuries.

If the bird is obviously injured
If you can see a wound, or a wing or leg is obviously damaged then the bird needs help. Survival in the wild is unlikely with an injury.

A bird has been hit by a car
This is common as they learn to fly. The baby may just be stunned but make sure it’s safe and contact a wildlife rescue for advice.

An adult bird which can be approached
An adult bird of prey should see a human as a threat and try to get away. If it makes no effort to fly off, or is unable to, then it’s in serious trouble.


When to take other action #

A bird with straps rounds its legs
This is an escaped captive bird. It probably won’t survive in the wild and, if it does, it will have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. Report the sighting to your local falconry centre.

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