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BIRDS ON THE GROUND

An increasingly common situation is to find in the garden or on the pavement a grounded swift, that can be an adult bird or a fledgling that has fallen out of the nest before they is ready to fly. Adults may collide with something when trying to access the nest and fall dazed to the ground. Some chicks, motivated by curiosity and imprudence, sneak excessively out of the nest and end up falling. The fledglings can also fall when they are forced to leave the nest due to the suffocating heat of the hottest days of the year. Grounded birds are condemned to death, so it is urgent to help them.​

Catch and Diagnose​

Handle the bird carefully but firmly, leaving no "room" for it to struggle in your hand, as they may damage the feathers. Do not be afraid! It will cling tightly to your hand using its nails. Check if what you have found is a stunned adult bird, an injured bird or a fledgling. The way to tell if the bird in your hand can fly (unhurt adult) or not is simple. Place the hand holding the bird at face height in a place where the bird has room to fly (ample space, as it may be difficult for it to gain height), and simply open your hand. A healthy adult bird will fly away, an injured adult will probably try to fly away unsuccessfully, and if it is a chick it will cling to your hand to keep from falling. Under no circumstances make the bird fly by throwing it up or dropping it. If it is a chick or a bird unable to fly, the bird should be handed over to SEPNA or transported to the nearest Wildlife Recovery Centre as soon as possible, in order to receive professional care.

 

WARNING: If you find a bird that needs help, the best option is always to take it to a Wild Animal Recovery Centre. The keeping and breeding of wild birds is not permitted by current legislation and you can be penalized if you try to recover it at home. You should always notify SEPNA immediately (by contacting 217 503 080) so that they can take charge of transport.

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Accommodate​

When you find an injured bird the ideal is not to hold it too long. You should place the bird in a calm environment so that it does not struggle and thus aggravate its injuries or damage its feathers. The feathers of the fledglings, which are in full development, are extremely fragile and if they are not in perfect condition at the end of the summer, the birds will never be able to make the migration they depend on to survive.


To keep the bird comfortable and safe, keep it in an airy box (a shoe box with holes works perfectly) with absorbent paper at the bottom and try to keep the box in a quiet place. As the authorities (SEPNA) are not always willing to transport the bird immediately, the box should be kept in a closed room, with little noise and out of the reach of domestic animals such as dogs and cats.​

First aid​

If it is not possible to immediately send the bird to a recovery centre and the bird has no apparent injuries (it has no hanging wings and moves them normally, as well as both legs), but seems "without energy", we should evaluate two options: hypothermia or dehydration. If you find the bird at dawn after a cold night, it may be the first case (it may have spent the night on the ground), so you should put it in a quiet (box) and heated place (inside our house) to see if it recovers. If you find the bird in the sun on a hot day, it may be dehydrated. In that case you can use saline solution, which can be bought in any pharmacy. Dip the toothpick in the solution and carefully place a drop in the corner of the beak. You will see how quickly the bird drinks. Give it several drops and keep it under observation until it is picked up by SEPNA or taken to a recovery centre. ​
 

Things you should NEVER do​

  • Even if it is hot and the bird seems suffocated: you should never wet it to cool it down... That can kill it in a few hours.

  • Never submerge the beak to give it water! If the water enters its nostrils (holes in the beak through which it breathes), the water will penetrate its respiratory system and it will have a painful death from pneumonia.

  • You should not feed it, even if it shows signs of hunger. Birds are adapted to remain several hours without eating and inadequate food can cause serious problems.

 

THINGS YOU MUST NEVER DO

Even if it is hot and the bird seems suffocated: you must never wet it to cool it down... That can kill it in a few hours.

Never submerge the beak to give it a drink! If the water enters its nostrils (holes in the beak through which it breathes), the water will penetrate its respiratory system and it will most likely die a painful death from pneumonia.


Do not feed it, even if it shows signs of hunger. Birds are adapted to go several hours without eating and an inadequate diet can cause serious problems.

USEFUL CONTACTS

 

AUTHORITIES

SEPNA | Serviço de Proteção da Natureza e Ambiente, GNR | 217 503 080

SOS Ambiente e Território | 808 200 520

BRIPA PSP | Brigadas de Proteção Ambiental da Polícia de Segurança Pública | 217 654 242

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WILDLIFE RECOVERY CENTRES

CRFS | Centro de Recuperação de Fauna Selvagem do PNPG, Gerês | 253 390 110

CRAS-HVUTAD | Centro de Recuperação de Animais Selvagens do Hosp. Veterinário da UTAD, Vila Real | 935 180 020

CIARA | Centro de Interpretação Ambiental e de Recuperação Animal, Torre de Moncorvo | 279 254 058

CRF-PBG | Centro de Recuperação de Fauna do Parque Biológico de Gaia | 227 878 120 

CERVAS | Centro de Ecologia,Recuperação e Vigilância de Animais Selvagens, Gouveia | 919 457 984

CERAS | Centro de Estudos e Recuperação de Animais Selvagens, Castelo Branco | 963 957 669

CRASM | Centro de Recuperação de Animais Selvagens de Montejunto | 910 024 789

CRAS-Lx | Centro de Recuperação de Animais Silvestres de Lisboa |  218 170 200

CRASSA  | Centro de Recuperação de Animais Selvagens de St. André | 925 403 833

RIAS | Centro de Recuperação e Investigação de Animais Selvagens, Olhão | 927 659 313

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DID YOU SEE A SWALLOW, MARTIN OR SWIFT ON THE GROUND?

What should be done?

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