Capture Instructions

Although Sea Biscuit volunteers will capture and transport wild birds, it is helpful if you are able to do so. This shortens the amount of time between discovery and the start of treatment and helps decrease the chance of the bird escaping before a volunteer arrives.

If possible, before attempting to capture the bird, seek advice for your specific situation by calling Sea Biscuit at (910) 294-2555. In all cases, read the instructions below and always exercise caution and good judgement, for your safety and the birds’. If you cannot capture the bird on your own, or don’t feel comfortable doing so, you can still help by remaining at the scene. Please make every effort to wait near the bird to ensure it does not escape or experience additional problems while waiting for transportation.

  • Determine your level of comfort in handling the bird. If you have found a raptor (a hawk, owl, or similar species with powerful talons) or an egret or heron or other species with a long, pointed bill, only handle it if you have appropriate safety items that will protect your hands and eyes.
  • Prepare a container, such as a pet crate or cardboard box, for the bird. Line the bottom with towels or paper towels to help prevent the bird from slipping around inside.
  • If dealing with a large bird with a long bill or talons, such as an owl, hawk, loon, or pelican, always wear glasses or other protective eyewear and gloves. Smaller birds may also peck, so gloves are recommended.
  • Approach the bird calmly. For larger birds, or ones that still have some mobility, approaching with multiple people in a circle cuts off avenues of escape. If your bird is stranded on the beach or next to another body of water such as a pond, approach it so that you are between it and the water. This will prevent it from trying to escape by swimming.
  • If the bird is at all mobile, gently throw a towel, cloth, or blanket over it. This restrains it somewhat to prevent escape and also covers the eyes, which calms the bird. In some cases, a long-handled net is useful. In the case of a very small bird, such as a baby bird, a towel or cloth is not necessary and it can be gently picked up directly.
  • Pick the bird up while it is still covered with the towel (or net) by holding it so the wings are held against its body and place it in the container. Be gentle but firm. If it a large bird with a long bill, restrain the bill as well as the wings and keep the bird’s eyes are covered at all times. If it is a raptor with long, sharp talons, make sure the bird’s eyes are covered at all times and make sure you avoid putting your hands or other body parts where the bird’s feet can reach. Do not leave the towel or net wrapped around the bird once it is in the container, as they can easily overheat or suffocate.
  • Secure the container’s lid so that the bird cannot escape, but leave some ventilation. Make sure the container is kept in a quiet, dark place that is not too hot or too cold.
  • See the Care Instructions for how to minimize stress to the bird and bring it to Sea Biscuit (or the nearest licensed bird rehab facility) as quickly as possible.