Found an Injured Raptor?

Call Teton Raptor Center's Injured Bird Hotline
307.200.6019

What to do if you find an Injured Raptor from Carrie Ann Adams on Vimeo.

If you are in the Jackson Hole Area, call TRC's Injured Bird Hotline. We check the hotline messages between 9am and 7pm, 7 days a week.


If you are located outside of the state of Wyoming, you are required to contact your state Game and Fish Agency before the bird can be transported over state lines to TRC, and in some cases, there may be a closer permitted wildlife rehabilitator in your area. If you are in Idaho, visit https://idfg.idaho.gov/offices to find your regional office.

Our team is specifically trained in rescuing wild raptors. If you are unable to reach a TRC staff member, your local Game and Fish Agency can also help rescue raptors. If you already have possession of the bird, keep it in a dark box lined with a clean towel or sheet, and keep the box in a quiet and warm room. Do not attempt to feed or give water to the injured raptor- this can do more harm than good. We will get in touch with you as soon as we can. If possible, write down as much as you can about the circumstances involving the injured bird, including specific location and nearby objects, such as buildings or animals.

Teton Raptor Center is legally permitted by federal and state laws to rehabilitate raptor species. We are unable to treat songbirds, waterfowls, shorebirds, or any other non-raptor species. If you have an injured non-raptor species, contact your local Game and Fish Agency or veterinarian. To identify the injured bird and determine if is a raptor, see our page on All About Raptors or visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website.

If you find an injured raptor, special steps are needed to protect it and yourself. The following steps will ensure everyone's safety:

  • Never feed an injured raptor. Raptors have very specific dietary needs and even the best meat available may be inappropriate for a raptor. Often injured raptors are suffering from dehydration and/or emaciation, so food or water may kill it.
  • Handle the raptor only if absolutely necessary! The less contact it has with people, the more likely it will be to survive. Stress is deadly for these birds.
  • If you must handle a raptor, wear long, heavy gloves and use a blanket or towel to cover the bird. Gently fold the raptor's wings against its body into a normal, relaxed position.
  • Place the raptor in a cardboard box with small ventilation holes cut near the floor of the box. The box should be slightly larger than the bird. Less room to thrash around means less chance of the raptor causing itself injury.
  • Cover the bottom of the cardboard box with a clean towel or sheet, DO NOT line with hay or straw because this can expose the raptor to fungi that may lead to deadly lung infections.
  • NEVER use a wire cage, transport raptors in the open bed of a truck, or leave the raptor in a place where temperatures could reach extremes.
  • Provide the raptor with a dark, quiet, and warm environment. DO NOT keep the raptor any longer than absolutely necessary and always keep it away from pets and children.
  • Remember, even a seriously injured or seemingly incapacitated raptor can be potentially dangerous. Even if you are trying to help the bird, it will be frightened and may perceive you as a threat. Raptors can be quite unpredictable. Be particularly wary of the beak and talons.

Injured or Just a Chick?

Great Horned Owl Fledglings

Great Horned Owl Fledglings

Just because you find a raptor on the ground, it does not mean that the bird is injured and in need of help.
It is normal for chicks of most raptor species to leave the nest before they can fly. Some raptors also nest on the ground or even under it. Unless the chick shows signs of injury, its greatest chance of success in the wild depends on leaving it where it is to develop normally under the care of its parents.

Fledglings
A fledgling is what we call a young raptor that has left the nest but it still not old enough for full flight. The parents find and feed these grounded fledglings for several days as they develop their flight abilities. Many species of raptors have a prolonged adolescent period where, even though the young are old enough to fly, they are still supported by their parents. This is the time period that the young gain valuable hunting experience because they are still fed by the parents when they are unsuccessful hunting on their own.

Should you call Teton Raptor Center?
With very few exceptions, leaving a fledgling raptor alone is the best option for increasing its chances of survival. It can be difficult to distinguish between a young raptor that is too young to fly and one that is injured. It is not always easy to identify a fledgling. Fledglings can look like adults except that they might have a ragged or fluffy appearance. They are full-sized at this stage but have not grown in all their adult feathers. If you see blood or an open wound, the bird needs help. Please call our Injured Raptor Hotline: 307-200-6019.

Nestlings

Additionally, with the exception of ground nesting raptors, it is not normal to find a chick that is featherless, or covered only in down, with its eyes closed. If you know where the nest is, and it is safely accessible, it is okay to attempt to put a chick at this age back in its nest. Otherwise, please call our Injured Raptor Hotline at 307.200.6019 before moving any young raptor that is not in apparent danger.

‚ÄčThis young chick is still covered in down. If you see a chick like this that isn't in a ground nest, it may be in danger.

‚ÄčThis young chick is still covered in down. If you see a chick like this that isn't in a ground nest, it may be in danger.

FAQs

Q: What happens after you receive an injured raptor?

A: After receiving an injured raptor we start a treatment plan based on its injury or illness and consult with our veterinary advisor. After thorough treatment and rehabilitation, we always hope to return our patients to the wild! See our current patients and most recent releases.

Q: How do birds arrive at Teton Raptor Center?

A: We receive calls on our Injured Raptor Hotline and either a staff member or volunteer will either go rescue the bird or meet an individual who has the injured raptor. We also work with Wyoming Game and Fish and Idaho Fish and Game to transport injured raptors to our center. Sometimes, volunteers bring us birds from hundreds of miles away through the Raptor Rescue Network.

Q: Can I help?

A: Yes you can! If you are interested in helping TRC rescue and transport injured birds of prey consider donating or volunteering.

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