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Injured Raptor (hawk, eagle, owl)

Please Note:

Under Federal and State Law it is LEGAL for any person to rescue or transport a bird of prey immediately to a licensed rehabilitator.

It is ILLEGAL under Federal or State law to injure or possess a bird of prey.

How to Safely Recover and Transport an Injured Raptor:

Your goal is to completely cover the injured bird, recover it to an appropriate box to prevent further injury, and IMMEDIATELY transport it to or seek the help of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who can provide the necessary specialized care.

DO NOT seek the help of a veterinarian. Most have not the facilities, time, nor practical experience to properly handle injured raptors.

Please follow these outlined instructions carefully to prevent further injury to either the raptor OR yourself.

Even though it will batter you with its wings and may bite, appreciate that the talons are the most dangerous part of the bird. They are very sharp and powerful. Control the feet as soon as possible.

Capturing, Containing and Transporting the Injured Raptor:

Obtain a TOWEL, BLANKET, JACKET or any other handy lightweight item that is large enough to cover the entire bird. Note the geographic location where the bird was found. This information will be necessary when the bird is ready for release back into the wild.

Approach the bird from the rear if possible. If the bird is alert and can follow your movements, anticipate that it will struggle when first covered.

When close enough, carefully place the chosen cover over the bird. Make sure to cover the bird completely.


Quickly restrain the bird under the covering. Be certain the legs and talons are contained and covered completely.

Before attempting to handle the bird: BE AWARE OF WHERE THE FEET ARE!

As the bird calms down, gather the covering together, being carefully to get the bird's wings folded against the body.

If required, the covering can be made into a sack using a bootlace or duct tape. NEVER TAPE THE FEATHERS DIRECTLY.

EXTREME CARE must be used when the bird is transported in this manner. If the day is warm or the covering is made of tightly woven material, the bird can quickly overheat.

The bird should be transferred to a more suitable enclosure at the first opportunity.

Stop at a nearby house or business and obtain a cardboard box.
The box should be WELL VENTILATED and just large enough to allow the bird some movement, but not so large as to allow the bird to move around and cause further injury.

Do not put any wild bird in a wire cage.

CALL a rehabilitator or ROAR (in Iowa City 319-248-9770).

We appreciate you transporting the bird to us.

If doing so:

NEVER TRANSPORT A BIRD IN YOUR TRUNK OR IN THE BACK OF AN OPEN PICKUP TRUCK.

In the event you cannot provide transport, arrangements will be made by us to pick up the bird and transport it to our rehabilitation facilities.

Note the location of the bird so it can be returned to its territory when possible.

Adapted from materials of the RAPTOR EDUCATION GROUP, INC.



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