Injured Tawny Owl, minor collision with a car

Fit, healthy Owls and Birds of Prey will not tolerate humans in close proximity. If a person is permitted to get close to an Owl or Bird of Prey, that is an indication that it is not in good health.


If you find yourself in this situation, where there are signs that the Owl or Bird of Prey is sick or injured, there are a few things you can do to help. The first option is to contact a local Falconry or Bird of Prey Centre, or Wildlife Rescue Centre, and ask if they can be of assistance, preferably, sending someone to pick up the patient. If it is not possible for them to send someone, and you are required to transport it, then use a blanket or jacket to wrap the patient, taking care to avoid the beak and feet. Wrap the patient tightly, keeping the wings closed and tight to the body, and place on the floor of the vehicle, ensuring the heater is turned down to avoid overheating, and take the patient to the centre. Ideally, a cardboard box with air holes, or a cat transport box can be used to contain the patient.


Injured Little Owl, attacked by a Tawny Owl

If the patient cannot be transported to a centre immediately, and you are required to take it home, then it should be placed in a box and placed in a quiet dark room.


Well established Wildlife Rescue Centres, Bird of Prey Centres and Falconry Centres have the expertise and experience to evaluate and treat Owls and Birds of Prey. Provide the centre with your details, and details of where the patient was found.


If you do not have a local Falconry or Bird of Prey Centre, or Wildlife Rescue Centre, then contact your local vet. There are few vets with the necessary expertise to treat Owls and Birds of Prey, but, they should have contact details for those vets who can offer the correct advice. Again, you should provide the vet with your details and the location where the patient was found.




Despite what most people think, Owls and Birds of Prey do not have a sense of smell. Therefore, touching young birds during rescue does not affect the reaction of the parents. Nestlings (those birds which are too young to leave the nest), and fledglings (those birds which are about to leave or have left the nest), sometimes find themselves outside the nest without the strength or ability to get back. If you find one of these, and the chick is safe from predation by cats etc, then leave it. If the chick is on the ground, or in a situation where predators such as cats can get access, then lift the chick off the ground onto a branch or structure to prevent it being predated. In most cases, the adults will feed the chick and will endeavour to get it to regain the nest. Tawny Owls are well known for branching (exploring the tree surrounding the nest) before they have fledged, and sometimes find themselves isolated.


Please try to check to ensure the nest hasn’t been predated and the youngster is isolated due to escaping. If this is the case, then a local Wildlife Rescue Centre or Falconry/Bird of Prey Centre must be contacted.




Wren receiving specialist treatment

Under no circumstances should a member of the public attempt to feed or provide water to a Bird of Prey or Owl. They eat raw, unprocessed meat. Feeding a Bird of Prey or Owl which is sick or injured can do more harm than good. Also, the structure of the mouth and neck is such that attempts to provide water by someone with no experience could result in the patient being drowned.




If access to a Wildlife Rescue/Falconry/Bird of Prey Centre or local vet is not available, then contact either the SSPCA (Scotland), or the RSPCA (England). Again, those organisations do not have the expertise or experience to deal with sick or injured Owls or Birds of Prey, but may have access to a local falconer/expert who can assist.




The RSPB is not a bird welfare organisation, as such, they will not assist in cases of sick or injured brds.




“It is legal to take in and keep most injured wild birds for the purpose of looking after them and releasing them as soon as they are fit. Before taking and keeping an injured bird, check to see if it is listed in Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Injured birds of prey should be given to an experienced bird of prey keeper or raptor rehabilitator to look after. Please contact Raptor Rescue, RSPCA/SSPCA/USPCA or a vet for advice on the best course of action. As a conservation group with no welfare expertise or facilities, the RSPB cannot help with an injured animal of any kind.

Some birds of prey, such as peregrines and goshawks, have to be registered before they can be legally kept in captivity. For further information on licensing requirements, please follow the links to the Defra, Scottish Executive, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Department of Environment websites.”