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Injured or orphaned shore birds and raptors

The following information is provided NOT to encourage you to get involved in the rescue of an injured raptor or shorebird, but to provide you with some tips for your own safety if you have decided an emergency situation leaves you with no other choice.

Always try to contact the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota before approaching any raptor at (612) 624-4745. You may also want to contact Wildlife Exam at Animal Humane Society at (763) 489-2223.


If you feel you must move or capture an injured raptor, wear heavy leather gloves. Wearing protective goggles is also recommended. The main defense for hawks, eagles and owls is their talons, the sharp claws on their feet. Offering a rolled towel for them to strike at with their feet will help to keep their talons busy. Then you can secure the legs between your gloved fingers. Place a towel or blanket over the bird’s head to help decrease stress. Carefully position the wings next to its body, and gently wrap a towel or blanket around the bird. Place the bird in a well-ventilated box or carrier not much larger than the bird itself and transport it to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota.

If you do get grabbed by the bird’s talons, carefully raise its center toe to force it to release its grip. Again, remember that raptors can be dangerous and that they are protected by a variety of state and federal laws. If at all possible, just watch the bird and call the Raptor Center at (612) 624-4745 for help before you attempt to pick it up!


Shorebirds refer to the long-legged wading birds such as herons and egrets. These birds are capable of seriously injuring a person trying to capture them, and it is best to call the Wildlife Exam at Animal Humane Society (763) 489-2223 before approaching the injured shorebird.

However, here is information provided for your own safety. Shorebirds have long, pointed beaks and long, serpent-like necks. In the wild these birds fish for minnows and stab at them with accurate, lightning speed using those long, sharp beaks. These beaks are also their defense. They will strike at any shiny object. ALWAYS wear goggles and use some sort of safety shield such as a garbage can lid when approaching shorebirds. A towel or blanket over the bird’s head will help to subdue it. Always move slowly and carefully so as not to further injure the bird. Do not talk, and keep pets and children away. Any large bird is capable of injuring a person by thrashing their wings, so a towel or blanket gently wrapped around the bird with its wings close by its body will help prevent this. Place the bird into a box or carrier, well ventilated, and transport it to Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.

Animal Humane Society's Golden Valley location provides care for all wild animals except skunks. We will provide phone advice for skunk situations. Please bring your wild animal directly to the Golden Valley location. If you need further advice or assistance you may call the Wildlife Exam at (763) 489-2223.