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What to Do With Orphaned or Injured Wildlife


Injured Bird Info Line:  (502) 238-5438


The Louisville Zoo no longer has a native wildlife program.  Please contact Fish and Wildlife at 595-4039 for a list of rehabilitators in your area.  All birds are protected by the state and federal wildlife laws.  It is important to get them into the hands of a  licensed rehabilitator for proper identification and care.

If you find a baby bird fully feathered hoping around on the ground watch the bird for  a while to see if mom is taking care of him.  Please keep dogs and cats away.  If no parent comes around in an hour or so, bring the bird in and place it in a box lined with paper towels with a lid and ventilation holes and put in a warm quiet place until you can get help.  If a nest has fallen out of a tree and has small nestlings in it try to put the nest back and watch to see if mom continues to feed.  If no signs of the parents after a while, bring the babies inside and put in a warm quiet place.  A low watt bulb overhead will keep babies warm.  Also a heating pad set on low can be placed under the nest with a towel between the nest and the heating pad also for warmth.  Monitor the heat as baby birds can overheat very quickly.  Signs of overheating are panting with open mouths and straining of their necks.  Do not allow other adults, children and pets around the birds.  Wild birds of all ages stress out very quickly.

Do not attempt to feed the babies right away.  Warm them first, then offer water by dropping it on the end of their beak with your finger – never use a syringe or eyedropper to give water or food,  It will cause the baby to choke.  Never give mild or earthworms to baby birds.  Different kinds of birds eat different foods and not all are worm eaters.  A good basic food is dry dog or cat chow soaked in water till moist and small pieces can be broken off and fed to the bird.  You can also offer a small piece of grape.  3 – 4 pieces of food a feeding is usually enough.  Small birds need to be fed every hour or two.

For adult birds that are injured, keep in a secure container in a quiet place inside – place a shallow dish of water and some soaked chow and bits of fruit, also some bird seed in case the bird is a seed eater.

For ducklings – if mom is trying to lead ducklings to safety, try to help by monitoring traffic, etc.  If you find orphan ducklings, place in a deep box lined with an old towel with a 100 watt bulb overhead or heating pad placed under the box with a towel between the box and pad for warmth.  Monitor heat so they are comfortable.  Ducklings do not need water to swim in, believe it or not they can drown.  They just need a shallow dish of water and some duck or chicken crumbles for food.  Do not give chick starter as this medicated and will make ducklings sick.  These foods can be purchased at a store that carries farm animal feed like Feeders Supply.

This is general information – it is very important to identify the kind of bird you have so it can receive the proper diet.  Remember all birds are protected by federal law.