Found an Injured Water or Shore Bird?

If you have found an injured Heron, Duck, Gull, Pelican, or other water or shore bird, AWC will try to help you get the bird to our rehabilitation clinic at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, AL.

Bird Intake Hours

11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Wildlife Helpline

(205) 663-7930 | ext. 1

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

Capture & Confine:
What to Wear & Tips

  • Protective Gear: When attempting to handle a large water or shore bird, wearing thick leather (welding) gloves and other protective clothing is essential. These birds often use their long, sharp beaks defensively, which can cause serious injury.
  • Additional Safety Measures: Considering the potential for these birds to aim at sensitive areas, including the eyes, wearing extra padding like a heavy jacket and, if available, safety goggles is advisable for added protection.

Capture & Confine:
What/How to Do

  • Calming Technique: Covering the bird’s eyes with a large towel or blanket can calm it and prevent it from seeing your actions. this approach also facilitates safer handling.
  • Secure Handling: Approach the bird slowly with the towel or blanket, then drape it over the bird to obscure its vision. While wearing protective gloves, gently but firmly take control of the beak to prevent bites. Use the other hand to scoop up the bird, folding its wings against its body, and support its weight by cradling its legs and body. Care must be taken to not obstruct the bird’s nostrils; if possible, insert several folds of the towel between the beak to ensure it can breathe easily. Handle the bird quickly yet gently to minimize stress.
  • Immediate Housing: After capture, place the bird into a sturdy, appropriately sized cardboard box. Cardboard is preferred because it offers a sense of concealment and reduces the bird’s awareness of its surroundings – which has a calming effect.
  • Bedding: Ensure the box is lined with soft bedding like shredded newspaper, clean pine straw, or old clothing, and cover the box with a towel to further buffer against stressful stimuli like light and noise.
  • Feeding and Watering: Do not provide the bird with food or water unless instructed by an AWC staff member, as improper feeding can be harmful.

Box Size & Transportation

  • Appropriate Box Dimensions: The size of the box should correspond to the bird’s size. especially important for long-distance transportation.

Suggested Box Sizes

Small Birds (e.g., Bittern)

18″ x 18″ x 18″

Medium Birds (e.g., Gulls)

24″ x 24″ x 24″

Large Birds (e.g., Herons, Geese)

36″ x 36″ x 36″