Bird Help

Contact Us

If you find an injured bird, please call us at 734.761.9640, and leave a message. Please do not bring a bird to the Center without speaking directly to a staff member first.


Geographical and Species Limits of our Services

We wish that we could help every bird that needs our aid, but our limited energy and resources force us to erect certain limits. Therefore, we have a cap on invasive species so that we can accept more native species. We do take pigeons, domestic or non-domestic. We will accept the occasional small waterfowl, such as a mallard or gull, for triage.

Our primary mission is to help Washtenaw County songbirds, but we will accept birds from outside our county. We specifically refer injured and abandoned waterfowl to the Howell Nature Center – 517.548.5530 or All Species Kinship in Battle Creek – 877.596.7776. We refer injured and abandoned raptors to Howell Nature Center or Dr. Kevin Smyth in Garden City – 734.748.4577.

In an emergency, we can give advice and short term aid for large waterfowl or raptors, but we are not equipped to handle their long-term rehabilitation at our Center, nor do we have the space.


Head Injuries

Buildings are the major cause of injury or death for migratory birds. Lights should be turned off at night. Put collision prevention products on your glass windows to deter collisions. It is important to place these products on the outside of your windows! Move bird feeders to within three feet of a window. An injured bird may be inactive or look puffed up. Collision-case birds are often under a window or beside a road. These birds need medication immediately. Keep the bird in a dark box and in a quiet area while you call for help. Do not offer any food or water unless instructed to do so. It is important that these injured birds come to the Center immediately to be given oxygen therapy and any medication needed, to prevent brain swelling or further injuries.

If you have found a deceased bird, you can contact the Detroit or Washtenaw Safe Passage organizations, which monitors collision birds and collects data on these cases.


Cat-Caught Birds

Although the bird may not appear to be injured, all birds that have been in a cat’s mouth need antibiotics. If not treated they die a long slow death in the wild from infection caused by the bad bacteria in a cat’s mouth. Puncture wounds from the cat’s teeth are often invisible. For your health and the welfare of your cat, please keep house cats inside. Using a harness leash or a catio option is safest and best for all.


Fledglings

With the exception of a very small number of birds such as swallows and swifts, songbirds leave the nest unable to fly. They remain on the ground for 5-10 days until their wings become strong and they are able to flutter onto branch stems and bushes for safety. During this time they fall prey to dogs and cats, children, well-meaning adults, cars, lawnmowers, etc. Fledglings should be able to walk or hop, and they should be covered with feathers. Watch the bird quietly from a distance for 4-6 hours. If during this time the parents arrive and feed the baby, all is well. Keep cats and dogs inside, and ask your neighbors to put theirs inside. Please be respectful of nature and let the wild be wild unless assistance is truly needed. The best place for a fledgling to learn is outside in nature with its parents monitoring close by.

Three fledgling robins in nest.
Three fledgling robins in nest.

Hatchlings and Nestlings

Finding a little pink hatchling or small nestling on the ground is a traumatic experience. If the nest can be found and the bird does not appear to be injured, returning it to the nest is the best option. You can make a pretend nest by using a Tupperware dish with holes poked in and some natural materials (such as leaves and grass) if no nest is seen. Place it in the closest spot to where the bird was found and high up if possible due to predators.

If the bird is very weak or cold and is not opening its mouth to be fed, you should not return it to the nest. The parents will only feed young that open their mouths and beg for food. Call for advice immediately.


Inconvenient Nests

Good nesting spots are scarce. Try not to remove old dead trees if they do not pose a risk, especially during nesting season. Almost all birds, eggs, nests, and nestlings are protected under federal law. Please do not remove eggs or birds from a nest – IT IS ILLEGAL. It is also illegal to rehab a bird in your home without the proper permits if it is a protected species. Call the Bird Center and we will try to give you an estimate of how long the nest will be occupied with eggs and active birds. Check all nursery trees to be sure that yours does not contain a nest. It happens more than you would think! If a tree must be removed during the spring and summer, watch it for some time to be sure that it does not harbor a nest. Again, we can give you an estimate of when it would be safe to remove the tree.


Pesticides

With the exception of doves, all songbirds are feeding their young the soft squishy insects, grubs, and worms that you or your lawn company may be trying to eradicate! Help your health and that of children, pets, and birds by eliminating pesticide use. Bat boxes are an excellent way to help reduce mosquitoes in your yard. It is also helpful to change out water baths to prevent stagnant water.