We do not rescue or rehabilitate birds at the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary!

Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary is a nature reserve that is maintained and enhanced for the benefit and health of wild birds. As such, we keep the property as wild as possible, providing a variety and abundance of trees, shrubs, native plants, grasslands, water features, and wild shoreline, all of which provides wild bird habitat and food sources.

 Unfortunately, we do not have the resources, permits, or training to be a recognized B.C. wildlife rehabilitation centre. In British Columbia wild life rehabilitation is against the law without proper permits and training. 

Read below for some guidelines for if you encounter an injured bird.

(Psst, it's actually illegal to handle or move injured wildlife, including birds!)

We just want to help our wild, feathered friends! However, handling or moving any injured wildlife, including all birds, is technically against the law, according to the Canada Wildlife Act. This isn't because bureaucracy is being a big meanie; it's actually the opposite. Biologists, veterinarians, conservation officers, and wildlife rehabilitation experts know that the best chance for injured wildlife is almost always to let nature take its course, and not human intervention. If human intervention is required, it should only be done by someone trained to do so, if at all possible.

I'm sure this bird is injured - what do I do?

The best chance for a good outcome for the bird is to leave it where you found it. We know this is often hard, as humans are hard-wired to try to help and care for living beings. However, unless you are a trained in bird handling and rehabilitation, you may inadvertently cause more harm than help the bird.

If the bird is a juvenile, parents can often be gone from the nesting area for hours each day to hunt for food to bring back. If one of their young is injured, they will know the best way to care for it and removing a baby bird from the area could jeopardize that.

If a young or adult bird is injured an you can see it is in immediate danger, such as being on a road or highway, you may decide to move it to the safest, closest place, such as off the road. Outdoor domestic cats are one of the greatest dangers to bird mortality, so you may also choose to put your cat or dog indoors for a few days (and encourage neighbours to do the same!) to give the bird the best possible chance.

Some species of birds, such as quail and waterfowl, have several young in each brood because they also lose several young each year. Sometimes, the best possible outcome for an injured bird is to become part of the life cycle, and become a good source of food for other wild birds and animals.

But it's an owl (or eagle, hawk, or osprey) - I can't just leave it!

We are very fortunate to have a raptor rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan. The South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls and Raptors (SORCO) is a rescue, rehabilitation, and release centre for raptors such as owls, eagles, hawks, and osprey. If you have found an inured raptor, please call them immediately, at 250-498-4251, ideally before handling the bird. The knowledgable, skilled, trained people there will talk you through what to do with the injured bird, and how to handle it, if it is necessary. 

SORCO has dedicated volunteers throughout the Okanagan Valley who have been trained in best practices to handle injured raptors and can relocate the bird to the rehabilitation centre. Again, if at all possible, do not handle the bird yourself.

If you are not in the Okanagan, please look up raptor or wildlife rehabilitation centres in your area and contact them for instructions.

So you already have a bird in a shoebox sitting beside you, now what?

If you are reading this, odds are you currently have a bird somewhere in your house and that is okay.  Most people are unaware that this is against the Wildlife Act and you are not the first, nor will be the last, to accidentally break these laws.  

So far you have done everything right by handling the bird as little as possible, placing it in a small cardboard box, rolling clean paper towel into a donut shape (this allows the bird to perch upright), and poking small holes in the sides of the closed box. Please do no try to give the injured birds food or water. 

Now you can choose to either put the bird back where you found it (most often the best chance of survival) or leave the box in a warm, dark area and call the SPCA, local vet, or rehabilitation centre for further instructions.

So it's been about an hour and that previously quiet bird has started kicking up a fuss, now what?

​While you were waiting for your phone to charge you started to hear some flapping and fluttering in the cardboard box. If you found the bird below a window, it was probably stunned from hitting the glass, and is now coming to. Because you have been so on point with how you've handled this illegal bird rescue already, it may be in your best interest to carefully take the bird back outside to where you found it, open the box and allow the bird to make its way back out. 

You may also choose to release the bird at the BWBS. As we are a wild sanctuary, the habitat is a safe and wild as possible within a semi-urban setting, and the bird may have  a greater chance of surviving than if it is released into a neighbourhood with roaming cats, barking dogs, toddling children, and teenage drivers. A reminder, if it is still injured we do not have the permits or resources to rehabilitate it, but will certainly welcome it here to try to recover on its own.

So it's been a couple hours and there still hasn't been much movement in the box, now what?

If it has been more than a couple hours and the bird hasn't begun flapping around, it may be seriously injured. At this point you have done all that you can to provide a safe opportunity for this bird to come back to its senses. There is a lot of information on the internet about how to treat injuries, but an untrained medical attempt can often times cause more aggravation and discomfort for the bird with no additional benefits. You wouldn't be very comfortable having someone attempt to repair your arm after reading a Wiki article. 

 We understand that the rescue attempt was made with good intentions, and you may have saved it from a miserable death, but the only real options from here is to release it into the wild or call the SPCA/local veterinarian to discuss compassionate euthanasia options. 

Releasing the bird in the safest possible location close to where you found it, or at places such as the BWBS, will allow it to attempt to recover on its own terms. The bird is much more aware of the extent of its injuries that we are and it may know how to function long enough to self-rehabilitate.

You found a baby bird on the ground and they don't look like they're doing too well, now what?

When baby birds are learning how to fly, they will fall, and that is completely natural. The parent birds know that they must let the birds flap and fall in order to learn how to fly.  If the baby has downy fluff or feathers and you can see the nest above the bird, keep still and watch for a while, you may see a food delivery from mama as encouragement. Even if you don't see a parent, it's likely best to leave the bird where it is. If there are any domestic cats, dogs, small children, or lawnmowers around, clear the area so it is as safe as possible for the wee bird.

If the bird is completely bare of down or feathers you may consider very carefully placing it back in the nest. Contrary to popular belief, parents will NOT reject the bird if you touch it, they differentiate their babies by chirps not by scent. Please do not attempt to feed the baby bird, as you will disrupt the natural learning cycle. You are attempting to give the bird the best shot possible, not to become a new bird-parent.

​So these darn birds keep flying into your window and it's starting to drive you absolutely mad, now what?

When a bird flies into your window often times it isn't trying to have a look what's in your fridge or recorded on your PVR, it is seeing the reflection of the wilderness, trees, or open area outside. If you want to divert them, hanging any string, beads, blinds or covers on the outside of the window will break up the reflection and deter the bird. It does not have to be a completely solid window cover.  Hanging something on the inside may prove to make the reflection even stronger and have an opposite effect than your intention. 

At the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary, we completely understand the impulse to help a bird or animal that seems down on its luck. Often, our well-intentioned attempts to do so may do more harm than good.  Remember, if at all possible to do so, leave the bird where you first saw it, don't attempt to handle it, and contact one of the organizations below to ask for instructions on what to do next:

South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls and Raptors (SORCO) : 250-498-4251

Kamloops Wildlife Park : 250-573-3242

BC-SPCA : 1-855-622-7722 

Vernon SPCA : 250-549-7297

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