Found an Injured Raptor?

If you have found an injured raptor, AWC will try to help you get the bird to our rehabilitation clinic inside Oak Mountain State Park


11:00 AM to 4:00 PM


(205) 663-7930 | Ext 1

If the raptor is already confined, please keep it in a warm (not hot) quiet place, and call our Wildlife Helpline immediately for further instructions.


What to Wear & Tips

  • Protective Gear: It is crucial to wear thick leather (welding) gloves and other protective clothing when handling a raptor to guard against their talons & beaks. These are their primary defense weapons, capable of piercing through skin and muscle to the bone.
  • Extra Padding: For additional safety, especially when dealing with species such as Great Horned Owls, Vultures, and Ospreys, wear heavy jackets or extra padding. Certain species are more notoriously known for twisting around and biting the person holding them.
  • Visual Covering: Utilizing a large towel or blanket to cover the raptor’s eyes can significantly calm the bird and prevent it from seeing your movements – making the handling process smoother.

What/How to Do

  • Approach with Caution: With a towel or blanket held up as a screen, slowly approach the raptor. This helps to calm it and makes it easier for you to manage.
  • Safe Handling: Gently, but firmly, grasp the raptor from behind, securing the wings against its body while ensuring its legs are extended forward, away from you. Use the towel or blanket to cover the bird during this process for added safety and stress reduction.
  • Immediate Containment: After securing the bird, place it immediately into a sturdy, appropriately sized box to minimize its stress and perceived threats. (Box size requirements given below).
  • Create a Comfortable Environment: Use cardboard boxes for containment as they offer a sense of hiding and reduce awareness of surroundings, soothing the bird. Ensure the box is dark, as this naturally calms most birds.
  • Bedding: Support the bird inside the box with bedding like shredded newspaper, clean pine straw, or old clothes. A towel over the box can serve as an additional layer to mitigate stress from light and noise – offering a more comforting environment.
  • Handling Sensitivity: Understand that any form of handling can be seen as a threat, causing significant stress to an already weakened animal. Proceed with gentle care and minimal disturbance.
  • Feeding and Watering: DO NOT provide any food or water unless specifically advised by an AWC staff member. Improper feeding or water can lead to further stress or health complications for the bird.

Box Size & Transportation

  • Box Dimensions: The size of the box is crucial, particularly for long-distance transportation. The box must be appropriately sized to accommodate the raptor comfortably without allowing excessive movement that could cause injury.

Suggested Box Sizes

Small Raptors (e.g., Kestrels)

18″ x 18″ x 18″

Medium Raptors (e.g., Hawks)

2′ x 2′ x 2′

Large Raptors (e.g., Osprey)

3′ x 3′ x 3′