First aid and emergency care for the avian casualty

Helping sick and injured domestic and wild birds

source: Glen Cousquer
In Practice vol 27 no 4, April 2005
starts p190, 12 pages long

Vets often get phone calls about injured birds, and need to provide clear advice and calm the caller, because distress upsets the bird. Some birds can injure the public, and need collection by specialists. Others can be caught with a cloth or net, and put in a dark box with ventilation at the base, so overhead shadows don't overstimulate the bird. First aid may be needed for respiratory distress or bleeding. Vets need to record the location where wild birds are found, so they can later be released there. Some birds, like herons, can stab, others, like falcons, can bite. Birds can be held in a folded towel and hooded if necessary. Domestic birds often suffer from infections, malnutrition and egg binding. Sick birds need their condition stabilised before clinical examination, for example breathing difficulties with oxygen cages and dehydration with fluid therapy. Wild bird casualties tend to be dehydrated, and fluid is essential before solid food. Vets may need to immobilise limbs, and give antibiotic therapy, though intramuscular injections can damage muscles. Birds in shock, such as oiled birds, need darkness, quiet and warmth. Warm water is necessary for crop washing in birds that have been poisoned, and the proventriculus and ventriculus may have to be flushed, if lead shot has to be removed. Oiled birds may need astringents and adsorbents, such as preparations including activated charcoal, to prevent the absorption of poisons from the intestine. Glucose or other nutrients are recommended when birds are not given food.