I found an injured bird. What should I do?

A bird hit my window and it’s just sitting there. Does it just need to rest?

If a wild bird lets me pick it up, is it being friendly?

Don’t cats kill more birds than windows?

Don’t wind turbines kill more birds than windows?

Are tall building more dangerous to birds?

Why don’t birds learn to see glass?

Do birds hit windows because they’re drunk on fermented fruit?

What does Safe Wings do with the birds it finds?

Does Safe Wings receive government funding?

Can I get sick from touching a bird?

I’ve only seen one bird collide at my home. Does that mean my windows aren’t a problem?

Everything has to die, right?

Why should I care if birds die from collisions?


I found an injured bird. What should I do?

If you suspect that the bird hit a window, see our instructions here. If it’s a baby bird that fell out of its nest, or any other type of injury, consult the Wild Bird Care Centre.


A bird hit my window and it’s just sitting there. Does it just need to rest?

No. A stunned bird usually has a concussion, may have other injuries, and is very vulnerable to predators. To greatly increase its odds of survival, pick it up as soon as possible, before it tries to fly away, and follow our instructions for rescuing birds.


If a wild bird lets me pick it up, is it being friendly?

No, it’s probably injured, helpless and terrified. To minimize stress, which may kill it, don’t talk to it or stroke it, but follow our instructions.


Don’t cats kill more birds than windows?

Scientific studies have come to different conclusions, but there’s no doubt that both cats and windows are leading human causes or bird mortality. However, many birds that are eaten by cats, especially in residential areas, probably first hit a window, making them easy prey, so reducing collisions also reduces the number of birds killed by domestic cats.


Don’t wind turbines kill more birds than windows?

While studies of human causes of bird mortality vary in their estimates and conclusions, scientists agree that collisions with buildings are a leading cause bird fatalities, responsible for as many as a billion deaths per year. In comparison, wind turbines are thought to kill between 140,000 and 328,000 birds per year.  

Predation by feral and domestic cats, along with habitat destruction, are at the top of the list along with building collisions. Other significant bird killers include high tension wires, pesticides, lead poisoning, oil spills, fishing by-catch and of course hunting.


Are tall building more dangerous to birds?

Residences are responsible for 44% of bird collisions, while low-rises (4 to 11 storeys) account for 55%, and high-rises for fewer than 1%. This is because most collisions happen within 5 storeys of the ground, but also because high-rise buildings are less likely to be in natural settings that attract birds, and because there are so many more houses and low-rise buildings than big towers.


Can’t birds learn to see glass?

Yes, and some do, especially resident urban species. But for many if not most, the lesson comes too late, and their first encounter with glass is also their last one.


Do birds hit windows because they’re drunk on fermented fruit?

Eating fermented fruit might make birds more likely to collide with glass, but most collisions have nothing to do with drunk birds and everything to do with birds being tricked by reflections or transparent glass.


What does Safe Wings do with the birds it finds?

Injured birds rescued by Safe Wings volunteers are assessed and either released away from hazardous buildings after a period of recovery, or brought to the Wild Bird Care Centre for medical attention.

Dead birds are collected for scientific and educational purposes. First, we confirm the species identification and document the collision. We also host an annual display of all the previous year’s birds to raise public awareness, then donate the specimens to qualified institutions, such as universities and museums.


Does Safe Wings receive government funding?

No, Safe Wings is run by volunteers on a very modest budget. Funds from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and some private donations cover the costs of bird rescue supplies, our phone line, printed materials and a few other other modest expenses.

We have begun applying for funding from some non-governmental sources to enable us to do more to educate people about bird collisions and solutions.


Can I get sick from touching a bird?

It’s not impossible, but extremely unlikely. Birds are actually more likely to get sick from us, not the other way around. Wash your hands before and after handling a bird.


I’ve only seen one bird collide at my home. Does that mean my windows aren’t a problem?

You may not be aware of how many birds are colliding if you are away during the day, in another room, or otherwise not paying attention to the birds in your yard from sunup until sundown. You may also may not find any dead or stunned birds because these are quickly picked off by neighbourhood cats or other creatures.

Treating potentially hazardous windows as well as clear deck railings, even if you’ve only seen one or two collisions, could save many more birds than you think.


Everything has to die, right?

Yes, but there’s nothing natural about birds dying by colliding with human-built structures, or by being eaten by predators after being injured by a collision.


Why should I care if birds die from collisions?

If you enjoy seeing and hearing birds, you should care about them being killed by windows.

One billion fatalities per year are not sustainable, especially with all the other hazards threatening bird populations, including habitat loss, predation by cats, wind turbines, power lines, etc. 

Also, bird-building collisions — at least in Ottawa — are a significant food source for Ring-billed Gulls and American Crows, which contributes to the overabundance of these species.