Found an Injured Bird

What to Do If You Find an Injured Bird

Stunned Chestnut-sided Warbler found by a Project Safe Flight volunteer. Photo: Sophie Butcher
The most common reason for finding an injured adult bird is due to a collision with glass. Through our Project Safe Flight collisions research, we estimate that up to 230,000 birds collide with glass each year in New York City. With your help, some window collision victims can survive. If you find an injured bird, please follow the steps below to help save them.   


How to Determine If the Bird is Injured

If you see an adult bird on the sidewalk with its eyes closed and/or is barely moving, the bird most likely hit a window and is stunned. The following are characteristics of an injured adult bird in need of help:

  • Lying on its side
  • Allowing humans to closely approach
  • Attempting but failing to fly
  • Bloody or with apparent wounds
  • Visible broken legs or drooping wings
  • Swollen or closed eyes

Where to Place an Injured Bird

Unwaxed paper bags and cloth tote bags are great for securing birds and easy to bring along with you. Unwaxed paper bags and cloth tote bags are particularly good because the bird is less likely to injure itself if it jumps around in them, and because they are breathable, they do not need additional punched holes. Do not attempt to give the bird food or water. Binder clips can also be used to keep the bags closed. A box with a lid or towel placed over it can also be used but is less portable to bring with you.   

Volunteer Cynthia Guile encountered this stunned Ovenbird while patrolling her regular Project Safe Flight monitoring route during spring migration. Photo: Sophie Butcher "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Volunteer Cynthia Guile encountered this stunned Ovenbird while patrolling her regular Project Safe Flight monitoring route during spring migration. Photo: Sophie Butcher

How to Contain and Secure an Injured Bird

Approach the bird slowly and quietly from behind, pointed away from traffic, so as to not scare it. Birds are easily frightened and can end up trying to fly away, often into a structure and further injuring themselves. Lightly grab the bird with one or two hands over its wings and put the bird gently into an unwaxed paper bag, cloth tote bag, or box.


Where to Bring an Injured Bird

Once the bird is contained, place the container in a dark, quiet place and bring it to the Wild Bird Fund as soon as possible. Again, do not try to force feed or give water to the bird. The Wild Bird Fund is located at:

Wild Bird Fund
565 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 11024 (
Google Map).

The Wild Bird Fund is open seven days a week. There is no need to call before dropping off a bird between their office hours of 10am-6pm. You can call them at 646.306.2862 outside of those hours and leave a voicemail if needed. The Wild Bird Fund is the only wild bird rehabilitation center in New York City and provides by far the best chance for the bird to survive. If you absolutely cannot get to the Wild Bird Fund, certain Animal Hospitals located in other parts of the city may be able to take in the bird. 

Injured American Woodcock recovering at the Wild Bird Fund. Photo: MaryJane Boland "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Injured American Woodcock recovering at the Wild Bird Fund. Photo: MaryJane Boland

What to Do If You Can't Bring an Injured Bird to a Rehabber Yourself

If you have a bird that is contained in a bag or box but you are unable to transport the bird to the Wild Bird Fund or an Animal Hospital, or if the injured bird is large or a bird of prey, contact NYC Audubon at injuredbird@nycaudubon.org. NYC Audubon coordinates a volunteer group of injured bird transporters who (if available) will take injured birds that are contained in New York City to a professional rehabilitator. NYC Audubon's office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30am-5:30pm. If you have found an injured bird and need assistance outside of NYC Audubon's office hours, please contact the Wild Bird Fund at 646.306.2862 or email rehabbers@wildbirdfund.org.
This Northern Parula was found stunned in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Conservation Biologist Kaitlyn Parkins helped it safely recover at the office before releasing it back into the wild in Madison Square Park, pictured here. Photo: NYC Audubon
This Northern Parula was found stunned in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Conservation Biologist Kaitlyn Parkins helped it safely recover at the office before releasing it back into the wild in Madison Square Park, pictured here. Photo: NYC Audubon
Additional Information: What to Do If You Find a Stunned Adult Bird
Sometimes an injured bird on the ground is just stunned, meaning it is "knocked out" and just needs a safe place to rest before gathering its wits and flying off again. If the bird just seems stunned, it is important to get it off the ground so that it is not stepped on by passersby on the sidewalk, picked up by a dog or cat, or swept up by building cleaning staff before it recovers. 
 
To ensure its safety while it recovers, place it in a bag and move it to a safe, quiet place for about an hour. If you hear the bird moving around and it seems completely alert and active, take it to a safe location outdoors, such as a park, and open the bag to release it (never toss a bird into the air). Otherwise, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. 
 
In the video below, our staff gives detailed guidance on what to do if you find a stunned bird and when it is safe to release the bird back into the wild.