You don’t have to be a “professional” to save a bird’s life!
Many birds just need a little help getting out of a tight spot. Here are some items to keep in your car that will enable you to be ready when you stop to check out a bird that is acting oddly.
Eye protection – goggles or sunglasses – is highly recommended. You will be dealing with a wild animal that may struggle. Also recommended are nitrile or latex gloves, at a minimum, or a sturdy pair of work gloves for more protection.
A fishing net can be used to trap a bird on land or to scoop an incapacitated bird from the water. Ideally a net hoop of 30 inches would be large enough to capture a pelican; however, get a net that you feel comfortable managing. There are many net options, including folding nets and collapsible handles. Make sure the mesh size is not so large that a smaller bird could wiggle out of it. You don’t want to have to catch it a second time!
Old towels are useful both to corral the bird (if it is mobile) and to calm it by covering its head after you’ve captured it. Rolled-up towels also help to support the bird in another good-to-have-around item, a sturdy box, or even better because it can be broken down when not in use, a pet carrier.
An inexpensive option for transporting a bird (although it takes up more storage space) is a lidded plastic bin with a few small holes in it. People often throw these bins out, but with a quick cleaning, they are a fantastic re-purposed solution.
Many times, however, you can help the bird without needing to transport it to a rehab facility.
Highly recommended and well worth the price: Mini-bolt cutters cut through fish hooks as if they were butter!
But if you are strong like bull, you can use diagonal cutters.
Be sure to check for multiple fish hooks (under the wings, in the feet/legs, etc.).
Bandage scissors cut through fishing line that is tightly wrapped on the bird’s body, and the angled blades help to prevent sticking the bird with the pointed tip while removing the line. You can use a knife or regular scissors, but be very careful not to cut the bird!
If you can remove all hooks and/or fishing line from the bird, and the bird seems otherwise in good health (alert, good body weight), then point the bird away from you, let go, and step back so it can move away.
If the bird is thin or lethargic or seems otherwise unhealthy, pack it up in your carrier or box and take it to a licensed rehab facility. In Pinellas County Florida, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary (SSS) in Indian Shores is the most comprehensive facility. SSS also has a satellite drop-off in south Pinellas County at All Seasons Landscaping & Nursery on Pasadena Ave. If you can take the bird to the main facility, please do, to expedite the bird’s care. Call SSS at 727-391-6211.
If you are not in Pinellas County, please call Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-3922 for a list of rehabilitation facilities in your area.
Thank you for being a bird rescuer!!!