How to Assist a Bird with a Fractured Wing

Video how to help a bird with a broken wing

It can be difficult to determine when it’s appropriate to intervene in the natural course of events. While it’s often best to let Mother Earth maintain its balance, there are instances where you can make a meaningful difference. If you come across an injured bird with a broken wing, there’s a chance that you can help save it without disrupting nature’s harmony.

Before delving into the ways to assist a winged creature in distress, it’s important to first ensure that the bird is truly injured. Some animals feign injury to divert attention from their nests. If you’re certain that the bird requires aid, it’s time to take action.

Identifying a Broken Wing in Birds

To ascertain whether a bird is genuinely injured, take a moment to assess the situation. Determine if you’re observing a fledgling in the early stages of learning to fly. At first glance, it may appear that the young bird is hurt, but it’s likely just testing its wings.

Certain species of birds spend extended periods sitting, sometimes even on the ground, without necessitating intervention. After observing for a few minutes, approach the bird cautiously and gauge its reaction. If the bird attempts to fly away but fails to take off, it likely requires your assistance.

Can Birds Recover from a Broken Wing?

Yes, a bird can lead a long and happy life after its wing has healed. During this time, one of the main threats the bird faces is predators. This is where you can play a role. A bird unable to escape on its own needs a secure space, and you can provide that. However, it’s essential not to domesticate the animal, as it is not a pet. Additionally, be mindful of inadvertently breaking any laws (more on that later).

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Natural Healing of a Bird’s Broken Wing

Similar to how our bodies are designed to heal after a fracture, most birds can recover from minor wing injuries without external intervention. Often, it is starvation or predation, rather than the injury itself, that poses a threat to their lives. However, a severe fracture will require human assistance, including surgery, to facilitate proper healing and prevent infection.

Timeline for Healing a Bird’s Broken Wing

You may be surprised at how swiftly a small bird can heal once you provide it with the necessary care. In some cases, they may be ready to fly again within a week. For more serious injuries, the recovery process may extend up to a month, during which the bird’s flight muscles may have weakened. Consequently, rehabilitation will be necessary. Regrettably, certain breaks may be so severe that recovery is impossible, and in those cases, it is humane to euthanize the bird (always consult an expert for this procedure).

Assisting a Bird with a Broken Wing

Now that you’re prepared to take action, it’s important to understand how to assist an injured bird. Keep in mind that there may be legal considerations to bear in mind, peculiar as it may sound. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, among other regulations, may prohibit the removal of certain birds from the wild, even with the intention of providing aid. Before taking in an animal and caring for it, ensure that you conduct proper research on the relevant legal requirements. Once you’ve done that, follow these four steps to aid the bird:

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Step 1: Call a veterinarian or a rehabilitation center.
Locate a local facility with ample experience to guide you through the process, from initial assessment to complete care. It’s crucial to determine the severity of the injury and whether surgical intervention is necessary, both requiring a veterinarian’s expertise.

Step 2: Capture and transport the bird to a safe location.
Injured birds are prone to shock, so exercise caution and avoid actions that may frighten or startle them. It can be helpful to wrap the bird in a towel to prevent further harm and ensure it stays warm and comfortable. Prepare a small cardboard box with adequate ventilation holes to facilitate transportation.

Step 3: Stabilize and bandage the wing.
Place the bird’s wing against its body in a natural position, taking care not to exacerbate the injury. Then, gently secure a bandage around the wing and body to immobilize it. Sometimes, all the bird needs is some gentle tending and rest to recover.

Step 4: Release the bird back into the wild.
If the wing is only strained, there’s a chance the bird will be able to resume its normal activities quickly. However, it may take several weeks of rehabilitation for a full recovery. To prevent the bird from becoming too domesticated, encourage it to feed from an outdoor feeder on the ground whenever possible.

A broken wing in birds can be caused by various factors, such as collisions with cars, windows, or encounters with cats and dogs. Tailor your care approach based on the specific injuries sustained. For instance, if you notice cat scratches, you may want to prioritize treating those wounds (avoid using chemicals). Remember, an injured animal is often fearful, so wear protective gloves and exercise caution to avoid scratches or bites while aiding the bird’s recovery.

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