Healthy animals and birds will not let humans approach too closely, their natural wariness will ensure they flee. Therefore, if a Bird of Prey allows you to get near, there is a good chance the bird is ill, stunned, or injured. The following is a brief outline of the actions to be taken if you find an injured bird.
If at all possible, and if the bird is safe from harm and predators, call a specialist organisation such as Scottish SPCA, RSPCA (England and Wales), local veterinary practice, local bird or animal rescue facility, or a local falconer who has knowledge on the treatment of injured wild Birds of Prey.
If none of the above options are immediately available, then the following steps should be followed.
Cautiously approach the bird carrying a blanket, towel, or rug. Cover the bird, taking care to keep hands clear of the feet and beak. Carefully wrap the bird in the material, try and keep the wings folded into the body, if possible, lightly grasp the legs, and place in a secure box. A cardboard box, cat basket or similar item will do, ensuring there are ventilation holes. Place the box in a warm dark space, away from human noise and contact.
Contact one of the specialists detailed above. Arrange to have the bird uplifted by them, or transport the bird to them. On no account should a member of the public attempt to feed or water an injured bird of prey. In smaller birds of prey such as Merlins, Kestrels, or Sparrowhawks, the close attention of humans can result in heart failure.
Please ensure you can clearly identify the location the bird was found, and pass that information to the specialist. Birds of Prey must be released in familiar surroundings to enable them to find known food sources.
Also ensure you provide your personal details to the specialist. Strictly speaking, all "finders" must sign a declaration gifting the specimen bird to the specialist. It is illegal to be in posession of a wild bird of prey. If the bird is retained for more than fifteen days, the specialist must notify "Animal Health", (DEFRA). If the bird cannot be released into the wild because of the injuries or condition, the specialist will decide the next step, either to euthanise the specimen, or to retain it. If retained, all details of the "rescue" must be notified to "Animal Health". In all cases, it is usual practice to notify the local "Police Wildlife Liason Officer", or, "Wildlife Crime Unit".
During the breeding season, many people make the mistake of picking up young birds which they suspect have been abandoned. This is not usually the case. Young birds often try to leave the nest before their flight feathers have fully developed. Most can easily return to the nest by scrambling up the tree. If you happen to find a young bird, and it is safe from predators like cats, leave it. If the bird is likely to fall prey to a cat, then gently lift it onto a branch, the parents will soon find it and return it to the nest. If the bird apears to have suffered injury, then call one of the specialists detailed above. They have the expertise to deal with the situation.
Despite what many think, birds have no sense of smell. Therefore, handling of a young bird will not prevent or discourage the parent birds from returning or feeding the young bird.