What to do if you find a fallen or injured raptor:

If you find a young owl or hawk that appears to have fallen from a nest or tree and is on the ground, do the following.

Rescued Barn Owl chicks

Rescued Barn Owl chicks

First keep your distance and spend time observing the situation. Still keeping your distance, take photos. Call your local wildlife center or humane society.

Key information is critical to a successful outcome. Things to note before calling:

  • The exact location.

  • Type of tree and the placement of the nest.

  • Is the bird injured?

  • Is the bird mostly down (white fuzzy feathers), lacking mature feathers?

  • Is it in immediate danger from other animals or people?

  • Is there a nest visible?

  • Are there other siblings in the nest?

  • Are the parents present?

  • Can you identify the bird? 

If an action is advised, stay with the bird if possible until help arrives. If the bird is in danger or obviously injured and the situation requires immediate action with no help available, put the bird in a cardboard box or pet carrier and take it immediately to local wildlife center. Wear thick leather gloves, be gentle but firm and avoid contact with the talons. Should it be late at night and impossible to bring it to a wildlife center, put the bird in a quiet dark place at home until the morning. Time counts, don't delay, please take it to your local wildlife center ASAP. Do not offer food or water and do not try to handle the bird or even check on it. Leave it alone and away from people and pets while it is with you. Do not keep the bird as a pet (which is a federal violation through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act).

Nestling raptors have a higher chance of survival when re-united with their parents. If the situation dictates, (nestling is in good health and nest can be reached,) WildCare will try to reunite it with its parents. Visit our Raptor Rescue & Reunite page for more information.

A Great Horned Owl chick yawns after being reunited with its family

A Great Horned Owl chick yawns after being reunited with its family

With some raptor species, such as Great Horned Owls, being on the ground can be a part of their natural breeding cycle, with the parents continuing to feed them on the ground (sometimes for weeks). For these cases being on the ground may not be as detrimental as it can be for other species. However, being on the ground near busy human activity is not a safe place for any young raptor. 

How To Help

The Hungry Owl Project and our Raptor Rescue and Reunite program are dedicated to protecting all birds of prey. We are a growing group of devoted volunteers, but we need your help! We are always in serious need of funding to continue this program.

Please help us continue this mission by making a tax deductible donation today. Help us preserve that magic that inspires us to look up to the trees. These magnificent birds are invaluable as a part of a healthy ecosystem and their continued presence depends on us all.