Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
South Vermont Hill Road, Holland, N.Y.

Common Injuries to Birds

Drooping/Dragging or Unsymmetrical WingsA Bird's Wing Will Drag or Droop, If It is Broken!

Birds with broken wings usually have an obvious injury. One wing will droop much lower than the other. When looking at the bird, the wings are NOT symmetrical. Many times the wing will actually be dragging or twisted. Ask yourself where was the bird found? This can help determine if it is truly a broken wing. Birds found in or close to the street, next to buildings and windows or attacked by a pet are highly suspect for this type of injury. There may or may not be obvious bleeding. It probably will not be able to fly but may be able to flutter and run if a wing is broken.

Many people mistake fledgling birds for those with broken wings. If the bird is hopping about and other birds are feeding it, it is a fledgling bird. Leave it alone. Fledgling birds will "beg or gape with an open mouth" for food and cannot yet fly.Fledgling Robins...Birds at this Stage of Development Are Often Mistaken for Birds With Broken Wings!

Head injuries may keep the bird from flying also (See "I Found A Bird That Struck an Object"). Birds with broken wings need assistance as soon as possible. Bird bones begin to calcify quickly after an injury. If a birdís bone heals incorrectly, it will be unable to fly. This bird needs to be captured and transported to a wildlife rehabilitator for help. Call a wildlife rehabilitator for help and instructions as soon as possible.

I Found A Bird That Struck An Object

Birds that Strike Windows

Many times birds hit windows because they do not see them. This often causes head injury, broken wings and death. Birds of Prey like the Cooperís Hawk will fly straight into picture windows in their attempts to snag an easy meal of songbirds at a nearby bird feeder.

Birds that have head injuries are sometimes mistaken for birds with broken wings because they are dazed and will not fly when approached. Birds that cannot fly due to head trauma, may or may not have to be brought in. Sometimes, placing the bird in a warm, dark box punched with air holes for a couple of hours is sufficient for it to recover and then to be released. If it is a large bird, placing a box with air holes over the top of it will also work. Or if the weather is acceptable (and the bird is not directly in the rain or sun or other elements), leave the area for a little while with children and pets and again wait for the bird to recover on its own. Often the bird has just knocked himself senseless for a short period of time and soon will fly off. If the bird is bleeding from the beak or its pupils are dilated or it has an obvious injury it will, of course, need assistance. Call a wildlife rehabilitator for specific advice and instructions as soon as possible.

For help in identifying birds in need of rescue, please visit the website, which provides excellent field guide information.

Return to Your Walk Through the Woods
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Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator If You Find A Bird With A Broken Wing!

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Messinger Woods
Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 508
Orchard Park, New York  14127

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