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In my time working with wild birds, I learnt the best way to hold and handle them so they don’t suffer from overheating or damage. This knowledge has been invaluable in helping cope with little honeyeaters when they accidentally bang into windows and lie stunned on the ground below. If they are dead, they will be limp and floppy, but if they are alive, a little help will go along way.

See if you can identify the type of bird, or take a photo so you can look it up. It doesn’t matter what kind they are, still use the same handhold. Holding birds tightly in your hand can cause them to break their tiny bones, overheat or become very stressed. The best way is to make a little cage with your hands like this..

If they are unconscious, or when you first grasp them, hold their necks gently between your pointer and middle finger and then cup your palm and remaining fingers loosely around them. This way they can breathe and none of their body parts are being held.

Put them in a fairly big box in a cool spot where no pets can get them, and close the lid, and secure loosely. You can include a stick for them to grip when they awaken. Keep checking by carefully sliding your hand inside. (Don’t just open the box or they can fly out and be loose in the house!) its good to try and identify what kind of bird it is.. parrots and birds of prey might bite! So wear a glove.

If they are a nectar eating species, they would have used some energy in recovery and will appreciate a little replenishment. While you wait for them to recover in their box, make a mixture of 1 tsp of honey in 50 ml boiling water. Dissolve the honey by stirring and then cool completely in a little lid from a drink container in the fridge.

When they have resumed consciousness, take the box outside near a bush they can fly to easily, and take them out by sliding your hand in and getting them in the cage grip. Then open the box lid. Transfer them to your other hand by holding them by their legs, right close to their bodies between your pointer and middle finger of your other hand, with your palm down like this…

They will flap and wiggle but soon settle.

Offer your honeyeater some of the honey mix by dipping their beak into the honey water. Most of them will drink it with quick flicks of their feathery tongue!

Then let them go by releasing your grip.

how to help rescue birds

Well done!

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