How to Rescue an Injured Bird

How to Rescue an Injured Bird

Please note that HWC only accepts native species.  To see a complete native species list, click here.  Please contact us at (808) 884-5000* during business hours if you need assistance identifying the bird. You may also email us at Please attach a photo of the bird to your email.

You may also contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife office on your island for information about native and non-native wildlife.  Contact information for specific DOFAW offices can be found here.

For your safety, we recommend you call HWC at (808) 884-5000* during office hours for instructions.  For off-hours, we have provided the steps below.  

*Our area experiences occasional power outages, which affects our phone and internet systems. If our phone lines are down, call our wildlife backup cell (808)443-1641. Please note that this phone is a backup only and may be off at other times.  

1. Find and prepare an appropriate-sized container.

  • Use a cardboard box, plastic tub or dog/cat carrier large enough for the bird to comfortably sit or stand in.
  • Place a clean, soft cloth with no strings, loops or holes on the bottom. A T-shirt is a good example.
  • Make sure there are air holes in the lid.
  • For small birds, you can use a paper bag with small ventilation holes and with a paper towel on the bottom.

2. Use caution and protect yourself.

  • Cover the bird with a lightweight towel, t-shirt, or small sheet, depending on the size of the bird.
  • A bird with a long neck and beak should be handled very carefully as they may attempt to strike out and stab. In this case, safety glasses should be worn, or call Hawai’i Wildlife Center for advice.
  • In the event of an injured raptor (hawk or owl) the feet and talons (sharp nails) are dangerous in addition to the beak. Great caution should be used to prevent injury to you. If possible, call HWC immediately for instructions.

3. Gently pick up the covered bird and place it in the prepared container.

4. Do not give food or water to the bird and do not leave any in the container or bag.

5. Secure the lid of the box, or roll the top of the paper bag closed and secure with a paper clip or tape.

6. Place the container/bag in a quiet and dark place, away from people, animals and loud noises.

7. Wash your hands if you handled the bird without gloves.

8. Contact and deliver the bird to HWC as soon as possible during business hours. If it is after hours keep the bird in the container in a dark, quiet, and warm area until the next morning.

In Hawai‘i as in most states, it is against the law to keep any wildlife without appropriate rehabilitation permits, even if you plan on releasing them.