Frequently Asked Questions  
What Should I Do if I Find a Baby Owl or Injured Owl?

  • If you find an injured Barn Owl - please contact a skilled specialist such as a registered raptor rehabilitator, or a veterinary surgeon.
  • If you need a local “wildlife rescue” centre, please telephone Raptor Rescue on 0870 241 0609. They can give you advice on your nearest raptor rescuer and rehabilitator. Their website gives advice on rescue technique. See notes below.

    Or contact the R.S.P.C.A. or your local Wildlife Trust. who may be able to give you the number for your local bird of prey rehabilitator.

    Important - Please note the following
    In common with most other wild creatures, birds of prey fear man more than anything else. Any raptor which allows itself to be picked up is very ill and probably close to death. Unnecessary handling will only jeopardise its chances of survival.
    Injured birds of prey require immediate, specialised care and any delay in administering this attention could seriously reduce the possibility of the bird making a full recovery.
    The successful rehabilitation and re-release of wild raptors requires specialised knowledge and proper facilities. Raptor Rescue has a countrywide network of rehabilitators who have the necessary experience and are equipped to handle injured birds of prey.
    The following rescue technique would be suitable in most circumstances, however these are only guidelines and we should stress that each case is different and should be treated on its merits.

    1. Obtain a cardboard box of a suitable size to accommodate the bird to be rescued. Ensure that the box is well ventilated.
    2. You will require a towel or blanket large enough to completely cover the bird. 3. Position yourself between the bird and any possible hazards, such as roads, rivers or ditches.
    4. Approach the bird slowly, but positively. Place the towel or blanket over the bird. 5. Expect the bird to struggle when first covered. Quickly restrain the bird under the covering.
    6. Once it has calmed down, ensure that the bird is completely covered. 7. Using both hands, pick up the bird complete with towel or blanket and place it into the box.
    8. The box should then be put in a quiet, dark and warm position. Resist any temptation to look at the bird, as this can often do more harm than good. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED THE CASUALTY.
    9. Contact specialist assistance such as Raptor Rescue, a local veterinary practice, the RSPCA or DEFRA.

    Beware ‘helpless’ young birds.
    Often young birds are perfectly fine, and should be left alone. Do not go near injured or apparently helpless baby birds unless you are sure you are safe, and that it is necessary action.

    Tawny Owl babies are often seen on the ground in summer, where you should leave them alone! They are able to call their parents and even climb trees to safety. Adult Tawny Owls can attack and severely injure humans. Beware!

    Occasionally young Barn Owls get out of boxes before they can fly (get our advice on box designs) and Barn Owls will not feed their young on the ground, as some birds do. In this situation it is often necessary to return the baby Barn Owl to its nest site. Not always simple! If a grounded flightless owlet Barn Owl is returned to the nest quickly, it is usually certain to survive. Checking nests requires a licence, so do not return to the nest again to check! Let the owls get on with it.

    Young owlets that have been without food for a long time may be dehydrated and drained of energy, and so a vet or rehabilitator would give them saline + glucose. Normally they get all the water they need from their food.

    Be Safe
    Handling raptors requires special care because the talons can cause serious injuries. Experienced people use thick leather gloves for handling birds of prey, and have had training. (Is it really sensible for you to have a go?). Advice must be given to inexperienced handlers to ensure that the legs are restrained at all times, either by completely enclosing the bird in a thick towel or blanket or, for short journeys, firmly holding them. Daytime-flying birds of prey are easier to catch in low light and this could be used in certain circumstances e.g. a bird trapped in a building, an injured raptor roosting in a tree.

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