What to do if you’ve found, sick, injured, or baby wildlife

Helping Urban Animals

Finding an injured animal can be an alarming experience, especially when children are present.  Occasionally, however, our desire to help animals can put them in even more compromising positions.  So remember, before you touch or move an animal have a game plan for how to best meet its needs.  This guide will provide information for the following situations:


Birds and Windows

Birds flying into windows

Accidents with windows are a common bird emergency.  If the bird is upright, but clearly stunned and does not appear to be able to fly away, use a soft cloth to gently pick the bird up and place it in a paper bag.  Close the top of the paper bag loosely, allowing a little light to flow in.  The idea is you want to provide the bird protection from eyeing predators, but what it to see a clear exit once it’s ready to fly away.  Place the bag in a safe place, under a bush for example, and refrain from checking on it for two hours.  After this much time if it has not yet flown away, it’s time to call a rehab center. 

Birds flying through windows

Another common problem is when birds fly through open windows.   In this case, turn off the lights and open all your windows, the natural sunlight will help guide the bird outside.  If you have some birdseed (or for hummingbirds their feeder), place it on or near a window seal to help lure it outside.  As always, remain calm, and take care not to try and heard the bird outside, this will likely cause the bird to fly in any number of confused directions!

Birds attacking windows

In the springtime birds are busy preparing for young and many bird species become aggressively territorial.  Because most species of birds cannot distinguish themselves from their own refection, you may notice birds attacking windows or other reflective surfaces.  Although it’s unusual for a bird to be so aggressive it injures itself, if the activity is troubling the best solution is to prevent the reflection.  Put a cloth or piece of paper on the outside of the window, or use grimy soap to create streaks across the surface. 


Bats in Your Home

Bats play a critical part in our ecosystems, and sadly, their populations are in decline due to habitat loss and the deadly White-nose Fungus.  Finding one in your home may seem scarier than finding a bird, but less than 1/10 of 1% of bats carry rabies and infected bats are rarely aggressive and usually die quickly.   If it's necessary to handle a bat, use a thick glove and grab it by the scruff of the neck to prevent bites.  Place it on a tree branch and check back the next day, if it's still there it's likely sick, so keep a safe distance and let nature take its course.  Most of the time, however, a bat in your home should be handled the same way as a bird, open the doors and windows and wait quietly for the bat to find it's way out.  If the bat you've found is sick or injured, cover it with a container and call Fish and Wildlife.

If you've discovered bats roosting in some part of your home remember, they have probably been living there peacefully for a while-this is not an emergency.  Rabies can only be spread via salvia-blood interactions so breathing near bats, or touching their fur will not transmit the disease in the unlikely event one is infected.  If it's summer, the bats will likely have young, so if you're willing, wait until fall to seal off access otherwise you may trap young inside, while preventing their mothers from coming in.

Finding Babies

David Craig

Dave Craig explains to a group of Awesome Academic Adventures students that, while the baby Scrub jay they found was alone on the ground, its parents are nearby and will continue to care for it until it reaches independence.

In the spring, there are many baby animals born.  You must be sure the baby you found is injured or orphaned.  Wildlife rehab hotlines can guide you in this determination.  There are many situations in which they can help you reunite a baby with its mother.  We cannot stress enough that most babies are still in the care of their parents even if they appear to be alone and away from a home/nest.  

If you have found an animal the best first action is to call a wildlife rescue hotline.  Refrain from searching for tips online and NEVER feed an animal before you have talked with an expert.  Many babies have special diets and can become very sick if fed the wrong food.

Determine if the baby mammal or bird you’ve found is in need of help:


Caring Temporarily for an Animal

If you have an injured or orphaned animal in your possession and you cannot find an open rehabilitation center, please follow these instructions until the animal can be transported to one.

  • Put the animal in a pet carrier or cardboard box with a lid and air holes.  Provide a soft blanket or old sweatshirt to provide a place hide in or something to grasp if it’s a bird. Please do not use a towel as claws can get tangled easily.
  • If you have a baby bird or mammal, the baby cannot absorb the heat in the air around it.  If you have a heating pad, put on low in the carrier over ½ the bottom.  Or you can heat water in a soda bottle, screw the lid on tight, wrap in a towel and put in the carrier and snuggle the baby up next to it.
  • Place in a dark room with no noise.
  • When transporting to us, please do not talk loud or have the radio on
  • Please give no food or water
  • STRESS WILL KILL – WILD ANIMALS DO NOT KNOW YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP.  THEY THINK YOU ARE A PREDATOR AND YOUR SMILE IS BIG TEETH WAITING TO BITE.

Resources to Contact

Some wildlife rehabilitators have constraints on the kinds of animals they can accept.  Generally speaking, most rehabbers cannot help adult deer, raccoons or possums.  On the other hand, baby animals and birds (including adult owls and raptors)are welcome at most rehabilitation centers. 

The following list will help you determine who to contact:

Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center: (503) 540-8664

  • Hours: April 1st-October 31st 8am-8pm all week
  • November 1st-March 31st 8am-6pm all week
  • A note from TRWC:  Turtle Ridge cannot take injured or sick adult deer, squirrels raccoons or possums.  These animals can be very dangerous and should be left alone.  If an animal is posing a threat to people (it’s near a school, trapped in your home, etc) or has been fatally wounded you can call Turtle Ridge who will contact Fish and Wildlife services. 

Salem Wildlife Rehabilitation Association: (503) 856 8242

  • Hours: April 1st-October 31st 8am-8pm all week
  • November 1st-March 31st 8am-6pm all week
  • A note from SWRA :  Although they cannot take adult raccoons, possums or deer, they do accept adult squirrels.  There are many seasons when they leave their call number on 24/7 for late night emergencies so it’s worth giving them a call even after hours. 

Department of Fish and Wildlife: (for injured, sick large and/or dangerous wildlife): (541) 757-4186


Salem Friends of Felines: (a no-kill shelter strictly for cats): (503) 362-5611

  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm

Willamette Valley Human Society: (503) 585 5900

  • Hours: Mon/Thurs/Fri 12pm-7pm, Sat/Sun 12pm-6pm

Salem Emergency Vet Clinic: (503) 588 8082