Kingfisher - Jayne Kirkby

Image by Jayne Kirkby

An unusual sight awaited Nature’s Home reader Jayne Kirkby as she arrived at work one morning. This kingfisher was sitting on a windowsill with its head tucked under its wing. As Jayne approached it fluttered a little but dropped to the ground and couldn’t seem to move any further. It clearly needed help – particularly as it was in a courtyard surrounded by two storey building on all sides, and there was no access to food or water.

So Jayne made some holes in a box, popped the bird inside and after calling the local vets, took it in to be checked. A couple of hours later the bird had made a full recovery and was released.

Kingfisher - Jayne Kirkby

Image by Jayne Kirkby

It’s possible that the kingfisher had collided with a window and stunned itself. Birds fly into windows for several reasons: they may be trying to get away from a predator, or are confused by the reflection in the glass.  

Birds on the move at night can also get dazzled by urban lighting. For example, woodcock, migrating in the dark, often turn up in unexpected places during the autumn because of this. People have found them in streets and city gardens, when they should ideally be in the countryside! The best thing to do if you find a disorientated woodcock – if it’s not injured – is to give it plenty of space to recover and resume its journey when it’s ready.

Woodcock - Ben Andrew (

Image by Ben Andrew (

If you do find an injured bird here are a few points to remember:

- Being handled and treated is a very stressful experience for an injured bird and before you attempt to catch it, you should consider the benefits of treatment weighed against this.

- Catching an injured bird can be difficult, and careless handling may cause further injury. Handling must be firm but gentle. Small birds up to blackbird size can be held in one hand. Place your hand over the bird so that its head fits between your forefinger and middle finger. The rest of your fingers will naturally wrap around each wing, holding the bird firmly.

- Medium-sized birds are best held with two hands, one over each wing. Handling large birds requires great care because of risk of injury to the handler. Unless you are used to handling large birds, it is best to call an expert rescuer to the bird rather than try to capture it yourself.

- Once the bird is caught, examine it quickly and place it in a well ventilated covered box to wait for treatment. Darkness reduces stress and is likely to be the best first aid you can give the bird. It is also the best treatment for shock.

- An injured bird should always be passed onto the RSPCA in England and Wales, SSPCA in Scotland, USPCA in Northern Ireland, an independent rescue centre, or a vet so it can receive appropriate treatment without undue delay.

- Birds which have been caught by a cat should always be taken to a vet as a matter of urgency because of the high risk of septicaemia, which is fatal within around 48 hrs.

There’s more advice here: if you find an injured bird

As a conservation charity we do not have the facilities or expertise for treating injured birds ourselves. Therefore if you find an injured bird please contact RSPCA in England and Wales, SSPCA in Scotland, USPCA in Northern Ireland or an independent rescue centre or a local vet, so it can receive appropriate treatment as quickly as possible. To find your nearest independent local rescue centre please go to Help Wildlife.

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