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How to help an Injured bird tips in one place

Among birds, those most susceptible to various diseases are the ones feeding in large groups – great examples are birds in the finch family like Pine Suskins, goldfinches and House Finches. They are also the most common factor of spreading the infection to other birds due to the frequent migratory behavior of these species. As some diseases do not always result in death, in those cases transmission to other birds is much more common.

The symptoms of avian conjunctivitis are red, swollen, watery eyes which in severe cases might become so encrusted that the animal becomes unable to see. However, even though swollen eyes are the primary symptom, this disease is an infection of the respiratory tract. Sick birds also have trouble feeding and it is common to find them under the feeder where they are looking for food.

The salmonella bacterium is responsible for most cases of food poisoning in humans, salmonellosis. When birds are in question, the infected animals present as tame and quiet, at times standing still for days. Their feathers might be ruffled and they might shelter their head under their wings. After the symptoms worsen, birds might start dying in a matter of hours. The bacteria are mostly present in feces, so the primary method of transmission is through direct contact with feces or by ingesting food or water contaminated with feces. The illness can spread to household pets such as cats if they catch birds or even to humans if they handle contaminated materials without proper care, so it is necessary to follow proper hygienic standards.

 House Finches are very susceptible to the virus of the avian pox. Infected birds present with warty lesions covering areas of the body without feathers, such as the head, legs and feet. The primary method of transmitting the virus is through direct contact with other infected birds, but it is also transmittable by ingesting contaminated food or water or through contact with contaminated surfaces such as perches, feeders or birdbaths. Another method of transmitting the disease among birds is by insects, particularly mosquitoes. This disease can cause problems with seeing, breathing, feeding or perching.


Some Advice for Preventing Problems with Disease at Feeders

Dirty feeders or ground feeding areas increase the chance of spreading disease as well as the possibility of mold which can cause the birds to become ill. Several strategies will help you prevent the possibility of disease.

- Replace one large feeder or feeding station (which means many birds crowding at the same place) with several feeders spaced wider apart.

-If your feeders have rough surfaces or are cracked, making them hard to clean, consider replacing them. Also, make sure that no rain water collects in the feeders.

-If your feeders feature small openings to allow birds to poke their heads inside and you’re seeing cases of pox among the birds, remove these feeders or clean them more frequently.

-Scrape the ground underneath the feeder to remove feces and old rotten food. You should place the feeders above solid surfaces like concrete, making it easier to clean regularly. 

-Never feed the birds with moldy or rotten seeds.

-In case you notice diseased birds around your feeder, remove it and thoroughly clean it.

-If you notice more than three diseased birds, try to disperse the birds to stop the infection from spreading. Remove your feeder for a couple of weeks and clean it well before putting it out again. If necessary, repeat several times.

Some Advice for Preventing Problems with Disease at Birdbaths

If you leave your birdbath unattended, it can quickly cause diseases.

• Change the water every couple of days and remove regurgitated seeds.

• In case you have many birds using the bath, change the water more frequently (placing the birdbath close to a faucet will make it easier to refill and clean).

• A few times every month scrub the birdbath with a strong brush to remove algae buildup and possible bacteria (rinse and thoroughly dry the brush after each use). Never use chemicals in a birdbath for any reason because it could poison the birds.

Some Additional Advice:

-Stop squirrels from taking seeds and leaving them on the ground.

-Chose to feed birds (nuthatches, jays, chickadees) which make less mess while feeding. Birds of the finch family are especially susceptible to spread of disease, as they gather in large flocks and eat at the feeder (as opposed to those which carry food away).

-Put out shelled peanuts, hulled seeds or suet to eliminate extra waste on the ground. (Remember: Shelled nuts quickly turn rancid).



Sick and injured birds have several urgent needs which must be provided if you want to save its life. Most important of those needs are heat and fluids. To begin with, you should place the injured bird in a container, such as a shoebox, which you have lined with a towel and made holes for air. Place half of the container on a heating pad set to a low setting so as to provide the bird with warmth. Heat is of the utmost importance to a bird which has lost its ability to maintain body heat because of illness. The symptoms are fluffed up feathers, closed eyes, listlessness and the bird being cold to the touch.

Other ways to warm up a sick bird include wrapping it in a preheated towel (you can microwave it for a minute) or placing it on a cloth wrapped plastic bag filled with warm water. The bird must be closely monitored and if it opens its beak to breathe, that is a sign it is too hot and you should move it away from the heat source.

The next step is to hydrate the bird. You should heat a source of quick energy like Pedialyte or Gatorade (sugar water will do; 1 part sugar to 5 parts water). If the liquid is hot to your touch, it means it is too hot for the animal. In case the bird is too ill to drink, use an eye dropper or your finger to place drops along the side of its beak. The liquid will leak into the beak and the bird will swallow. Continue giving it liquid until the bird shows it’s had enough, by turning its head or spiting the liquid.

Any sick or injured bird you might find will almost assuredly be dehydrated and you should provide it with fluid hourly for the first few hours. This will vary depending on how much the bird will drink at a time and how sick it is.

Stress is of great concern when dealing with sick or injured birds, because it can easily lead to their death. TAKE AS LITTLE TIME AS POSSIBLE TO ASSESS WHAT IS WRONG AND TRY TO HANDLE THE BIRD ONLY WHEN NECESSARY. If the bird is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the wound with a cloth until the bleeding stops. It usually takes just a few minutes. Take care not to press to firmly, as that could prevent clotting.

If at any time the bird starts to breathe through an open beak, set it down at once. When you handle the bird, take care not to put pressure on the underside of its body. Birds lack ribcages which protect vital organs, so the keel bone positioned on the underside of the bird’s body could press against its heart.

Injured birds should always be handled by gently grasping them over the top of their shoulders to stop them from flapping their wings and at the same time supporting their feet. If the bird has injured its wing or leg, handle them with extra care because those injuries are painful. As quickly as possible check their head, eyes, beak, wings, legs, feet and vent (under the tail) for any obvious injury or defect. The bird’s left and right sides should be identical in appearance. If any part looks different on one side, for example if one eye is slightly swollen, that means something is wrong. The vent hole should be totally clean, so if there is any feces around the vent the bird is probably sick.

Following your assessment and initial treatment the bird should be kept in a warm, quiet and dark place until it can receive further treatment. Most sick birds will need specific treatment for their injuries or illness.

Sick & injured birds questions and Answers:

Q: I placed a bird in a box so it can rest but when I checked on it an hour later, it flew away.

A: A bird can sometimes be lightly stunned by some sort of impact (with glass for example)  and will be capable of flying away after a short rest period.


Q: I found my cat carrying a bird it had caught, but I found no evidence of injury on the bird. What should I do?         

A: If the bird has been exposed to a cat’s saliva or claws, it definitely needs antibiotics. Without the treatment, the bird could appear uninjured for several days but then suddenly die from an infection which had been brewing. 

You can find bird  Vibactra Plus - All-Natural Antibiotic and Anti-Parasitic For Pets (1oz) here.

Application instructions for antibiotics:

1. Retrieve the injured bird 

2. Put the bird on a table, holding the head by gently grasping its neck where it joins the lower jaw

3. Take the syringe with the medicine in your other hand and place the tip gently into the side of the bird's mouth

4. Depress the syringe; squirting the medicine into the back of the bird's throat

5. If any medicine leaks from the bird's beak, wipe it away.

6. Return the bird to the cage, or holding box

7. Observe it for signs of stress

Repeat the procedure 2-3 days and then release the bird after it looks ok.


Q: Can I get parasites from touching a wild bird?

A: As a rule, a parasite that lives on a bird doesn’t want to live on a human. Birds have a higher body temperature than we do. Washing will get rid of anything that may briefly crawl on you. Another option is to wear gloves or use a towel when picking up the bird.


Q: Are there any diseases I could catch from a wild bird?

A: There is almost no chance of you catching a disease from handling a wild bird in Tahiti, for example. But, if you keep birds as pets, you should avoid keeping a wild bird with them to prevent them possibly catching some disease

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