Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
South Vermont Hill Road, Holland, N.Y.

Help...I Found A Water Bird Stuck in Fishing Line/Plastic

Bird Leg Entwined in Plastic LineIf you find a goose, duck, heron or similar water bird entangled in fishing line or plastic, immediate attention to the animal is required. Unfortunately, many times the birds will still be flighted, so capture may not be possible until the bird is so "down" that the leg cannot be salvaged. The twine acts as a tourniquet cutting off blood supply and debriding skin and bone.   Prompt attention from a wildlife rehabilitator is important.  Call immediately for help and instruction.

If you intend to capture the bird yourself, use extreme caution! Wearing gloves, a sweatshirt and safety goggles is a must. These birds will bite.  If you do have safety glasses, a shielded helmet or, at the bare minimum, a pair of sunglasses, use them. They will help protect your eyes.  Wading birds have a very long reach with their beaks and they are deceptive in their striking distance.  A sweatshirt will help protect your arms from bites.

When approaching the bird, remain calm.  If the bird is still flighted, a quick capture is necessary.  Grab the beak with one hand.  The bird will struggle and look like it is going to break its neck, twistinGrab the bird by the Beak!g and trying to get away.   Do not let go!  With your other hand, push the flapping bird to the ground.  Straddle it carefully with your legs and fold in the wings.  Having a second person around with a blanket is helpful.  You can then either cover the bird with a blanket or towel or you can lift the bird in a football hold under your arm.  At no point do you let go of the beak!  Place the bird in a large cardboard box or dog carrier.  Only at the last minute, can you let go of the beak as you secure the box or carrier.  

The best solution is to get an experienced person to perform this type of capture. Call a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible! 

Return to Trail!
Return to Trail

Please Return to First Aid Station, if you found a BABY Bird!


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Messinger Woods
Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 508
Orchard Park, New York  14127

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