How To Rescue A Raptor

How to: Raptor Cover

Volunteer Anne Steinert and CRC staffer Mathias Engelmann capture a Peregrine Falcon under the dome at One Wells Fargo. Photo by Michele Miller Houck

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Help! I found an injured raptor. What do I do?

Is it really a raptor?  What is a raptor?

To browse raptor species and check to make sure your bird is a raptor, browse our Raptor Directory.

Is it a fledgling or nestling?

Please see this page for more info on young raptors. 

Is the raptor injured? 

Determine that, in fact, the raptor is injured. If the raptor does not fly away when it is approached by humans and it does not have food (raptors may not fly away from people if they are protecting their food or babies), then it is more than likely injured. Be prepared to follow the capturing instructions that are listed below.

How to capture/handle an adult injured raptor:

Items you need: thick towel or blanket, leather work gloves, safety glasses if available, a box or plastic dog kennel.

  1. Protect yourself by wearing heavy gloves and safety glasses.   Raptors have a strong beak and sharp talons, and even a severely injured bird can be dangerous.  Remember that they are wild birds and they do not understand that we are trying to help.  They will defend themselves because we are one of their few predators.  
  2. Throw a towel or blanket over the bird to reduce its visual stimulation.  Darkness has a calming effect on raptors.   It will also help you to contain the bird.  Then, gently fold the bird's wings into its body with your two gloved hands.  
  3. Place the bird into a transport container and remove the towel.  The best way to transport a raptor is in a plastic dog/cat kennel or in a sturdy cardboard box with the top closed. Avoid bird or wire cages, as these can cause feather and soft tissue damage.  The container should have plenty of air holes for ventilation and should only be slightly larger than the size of the bird. Too much room and they will be too mobile and could injure themselves.  Too little room and they could do serious damage to their feathers.
  4. Do not feed the bird.  Most injured birds are suffering from dehydration and emaciation and feeding them could weaken them more or potentially kill them.   
  5. Place the bird in a quiet, dark environment.  Have as little contact with the bird as possible because any human contact or interaction is extremely stressful on the bird.
  6. Call our hospital at 704-875-6521 x 125 or another wildlife rehabber in your area for further instructions.

Please do not keep the bird any longer than necessary. Do not attempt to rehabilitate the raptor (or any wild animal) on your own. Raptors are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and it is illegal to keep raptors without proper permits. The sooner the bird receives medical care by a licensed rehabber, the better the chances of successful treatment. We are capable of caring for their medical, nutritional, and housing needs.  

If you find a baby raptor (nestling)... More info.

If you find an injured songbird... More info.

If you find other injured wildlife... More info.