Wild Birds of Prey

Every year, in early summer a number of hawks, owls and falcons are brought into veterinary clinics by members of the general public. Usually these are young birds, inexperienced in hunting that have recently left their parents and suffered injury by crashing into something, for example a window or an ESB cable. It is important to remember a bird of prey is dependent on its wings, its feathers and its feet in order to survive in the wild and these guidelines should be followed so as not to cause further damage to the bird if you have to keep it overnight or transport it a long distance to the vet.

1. If you have to keep it overnight then keep it in the dark, in a roomy cardboard box with old carpet in the bottom. This keeps it calm, protects its feathers and stops it slipping around.

2. Do not feed it. Birds of prey only eat raw meat from freshly killed quarry species. They often miss a day so will not starve overnight. If you feed them unsuitable food you will kill them.

3. Seek the help of an experienced bird of prey keeper or vet who specialises in birds of prey. If the bird has to endure more than a few hours inexperienced care it will certainly be damaged.

Remember: in order to keep a bird of prey you need a special licence from Dúchas, the Wildlife Service.