Below are some of the most common questions concerning the Bird Center and our work. Simply click on the question to reveal the answer in the drop-down box. Don’t see your question listed? Email our team (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll be happy to add your question to this page!
- Q: Can I rehabilitate an injured or baby bird without a license?
A: No. It is unlawful to rehabilitated protected wildlife without a wildlife rehabilitator’s license. If you find wildlife in need of professional care, then please call your local wildlife rehabilitator ASAP. Our bird emergency line is live 24/7: (305) 852-4486 ext. 1.
- Q: When can I bring a bird to the Mission Wild Bird hospital?
A: Our hospital team is on call 24/7 and we’re happy to meet for a bird drop off or pick up a bird anytime. We ask that you please do not leave birds outside of our hospital door in boxes overnight expecting us to find them in the morning. We’re more than happy to take an emergency call after hours if it means saving the bird’s life. For after-hours bird drop offs or pick ups, please call our bird emergency line: (305) 852-4486 ext.1.
- Q: How far can we drive to pick up birds?
A: We cover bird rescues ranging from the top of the top of the 18-mile stretch (mile marker 125) to just south of Fiesta Key (mile marker 70). If you find a bird outside of this range, then we have wildlife rehabilitation contacts that would be more than happy to help you.
- Q: Does the Bird Center take non-native bird species? How about other animals like mammals and reptiles?
A: Yes, we do take all bird species including non-native wild pigeons, starlings, house sparrows, ducks, mynas… etc. We will also take in non-bird animals and transfer them to the correct rehabilitation facility if needed or provide you with information to contact those facilities directly.
- Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer with the Bird Center?
A: Our volunteer policies establish a minimum age requirement of sixteen years to volunteer with our team. For more information about volunteering with the Bird Center, click here.
Baby Birds & Nesting Season
- Q: If I pick up a baby bird to put it back in its nest, then will my “human smell” cause the parents to reject the baby?
A: Nope! This is a HUGE misconception, at least as far as birds are concerned. Some mammals will reject babies that are handled by humans, but most birds have a very poor sense of smell and will not be affected after being picked up and placed back in a nest.
- Q: I found a baby bird. What should I do?
A: Click here to visit our baby bird flow chart. This chart explains which baby birds need help, and which babies need to be left alone. If you find a baby bird DO NOT offer it food or water. Instead, wrap them in a towel or blanket to keep them warm, and call our bird emergency line at (305) 852-4486 ext. 1.
- Q: When is nesting season?
A: Nesting season (in the Florida Keys) begins mid-March and lasts until approximately September each year. Different species nest at different times, and many species of birds will lay multiple egg clutches throughout the nesting season.
- Q: When is the best time to trim my trees and bushes?
A: We recommend that everyone trim their trees and bushes when birds are NOT nesting. This isn’t limited to the months that fall into nesting season. Trees and bushes should ALWAYS be inspected for birds and other wildlife before trimming. This included dead trees, since owls and woodpeckers love to make homes in dead trees.
Bird Emergencies & Injuries
- Q: I can see a bird injured by the side of the road. What should I do?
A: If you can, then stay with the bird to monitor it’s behavior, and then call our bird emergency line ASAP: (305) 852-4486 ext. 1.
- Q: A bird has become entangled in fishing line/hooks. What should I do?
A: DO NOT CUT THE LINE TO FREE THE BIRD. Instead, gently work to reel in the bird. When the bird is close enough, cover the bird’s head with a towel or t-shirt. Most birds will calm down if their eyes are covered. If you can do so without put yourself or the bird in danger of further injury, you may attempt to remove the line/hook from the bird. To remove a hook, first cut off the hook’s barb to prevent further flesh damage. Then gently pull it back through the hook entry site. If you have any trouble, or if the bird has swallowed then hook, then please call our bird emergency line at (305) 852-4486 ext. 1.
Wildlife & Exotic Birds
- Q: Do birds make good pets?
A: We always encourage people to think twice (and then once more for good measure) about adopting a bird as a pet. Birds require the most care and attention of all pets. This is especially true with exotic parrot species, such as scarlet macaws and African grey parrots. If exotic parrots are moved between different living situation and care takers, they develop severe anxiety disorders which can lead to self-mutilation (feather plucking and cutting). In many case, this type of anxiety can also result from neglect. Parrots are extremely social animals, and they require constant attention to stay happy. Parrots can also live for a very, very long time with some species living for upwards of ninety years. These are very important factors to consider when deciding if you should adopt a bird as a pet or not.
- Q: I have an exotic parrot that I can no longer care for. What should I do?
A: The FKWBC does not have the resources to adopt exotic birds. Instead, please contact your local parrot refuge for further assistance. We did have some contacts that help us to place pet birds that we can share with those in need in dire situations.
- Q: Can I keep a native bird, like an owl, as a pet?
A: No. All native and migratory birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. Under this Treaty, native and migratory birds may not be possessed by anyone without a wildlife rehabilitator’s license and/or wildlife education permits. This Treaty also includes bird parts such as feathers, bones, skulls, skin, talons, and eggs.
- Q: Is it okay to give bread to birds?
A: No. Bread is bad for all species of birds, even gulls, ducks, and doves. Bread has virtually zero nutritional value and can be the cause of many problems for birds. Click here to learn about malnutrition that can result from feeding bread to birds, including waterfowl.
- Q: What is the difference between birdfeeders and hand-feeding wildlife?
A: When birds are visiting birdfeeders they are still foraging for food. This allows birds to retain their natural behaviors while humans can observe them from afar. When animals take food directly from humans the animals brains are being re-trained to learn that humans are a source of food. This can cause the animals to forget how to find food naturally, leading to malnutrition and eventually starvation.
- Q: Why are domestic and feral house cats bad for birds?
A: Through the use of artificial selection, domestic house cats evolved from larger cats in a fairly short amount of time. This causes a major problem for birds, because the birds did not evolve with the pressure of having to avoid such predators. Thus birds, especially small birds, are ill-equipped to avoid being hunted by cats. It’s estimated that house cats kill approximately 3.7 BILLION birds word-wide each year.
- Q: How can I protect wild birds from my cat and other pets?
A: The simplest answer is to leave your pets inside. This is especially helpful during nesting season when baby birds are falling out of nests and learning to fly. While this may seem cruel to your pet, the reality is that it’s actually healthier for them as well. Most cats are expert climber, and they can climb up to bird nests to remove baby birds from nests. Another alternative is to equip your feline with a bird-proof collar. For more information about bird-proof collar, click here.