Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I find an injured, sick, or orphaned bird?
Visit our I Found a Bird page for complete instructions.

Can I just save you the trouble and take care of a bird myself? / Can I keep a wild bird as a pet?
No, you cannot keep a wild bird yourself under any circumstances. Unless you are in the process of seeking a licensed rehabber, or transporting it to one, it is illegal to possess a wild bird, even if you intend to release it eventually. Licensed rehabbers must go through extensive training, demonstrate their knowledge and competence, and have proper enclosures in place in order to receive the necessary state and federal permits to keep wild birds in captivity during rehab or for educational purposes.

Does Sea Biscuit work with animals that aren’t birds?
We are a rehab facility that specializes in wild birds. To make the most efficient and effective use of our limited resources, and because wild birds are where our rehabilitation expertise lies, we do not treat mammals, reptiles, or other types of wildlife. We can, however, help refer the public to organizations and resources that can assist with other types of wildlife and domestic species or, you can look for one yourself in North Carolina’s database.

What kinds of birds does Sea Biscuit take?
We take in all species of wild birds. We do not handle domestic species such as chickens or ducks or pets such as parrots and parakeets. The nearest licensed rehabber that does is Skywatch Bird Rescue in Castle Hayne.

What happens when a bird is brought to the shelter?
When we receive a new patient, it is put in a dark, quiet place so that it can calm down. Then it is examined to assess its injuries or other issues, which can include disease, parasitic infestation, or malnutrition. If needed the bird will be bandaged and given antibiotics, painkillers, or other medications. Sometimes x-rays or an exam by a veterinarian is required. After its initial treatment, the bird will be housed in a kennel indoors and moved outside when it is safe to do so. As each bird recuperates, its enclosure is cleaned daily, fresh water and food are supplied by trained volunteers, and continuing medication or wound care are provided.

How do I find out about a bird I brought in to you?
Call our information line and our volunteers will do their best to answer your question.

What happens when the bird is ready to be released?
First, each bird must be deemed physically well enough to have a chance of surviving in the wild. This evaluation includes factors such as the bird’s weight, eyesight, flight ability, hunting ability, and range of motion in its joints. When patients meet criteria for release, every effort is made to return each bird to its appropriate habitat. Often, this means returning it to where it was found. However, because they are migratory, some birds are released elsewhere or held until conditions are better because the seasons have changed and North Carolina is no longer the right place for them. For example, Mississippi Kites winter in South America so they wouldn’t do well if released on Oak Island in January. Similarly, though Brown Pelicans winter in our area, they are subject to frostbite and cold stress, so when possible for winter releases we transport them farther south to protect the investment we’ve made in their rehabilitation and give them a better chance at survival.

What happens when a bird cannot be saved?
Birds with injuries that are too severe or that are too weak to recover are humanely euthanized. Our goal is to ensure that no bird suffers needlessly and that all of our patients are treated with respect and caring.

What happens when a bird cannot be released?
Some birds survive their injuries but are not able to be released back into the wild due to loss of flight, vision, or another impairment. In some cases, transferring these birds to an accredited nature center, zoo, or aquarium is an option, and we make every effort to do so. Some of Sea Biscuit’s non-releasable patients have also stayed on as education birds. Keeping birds in permanent captivity requires additional federal permits which require they do at least 12 presentations a year to educate the public. Their physical condition as well as temperament must also be compatible with living in captivity, so they are not stressed or in discomfort permanently.

How does Sea Biscuit respond to hurricanes?
Since Sea Biscuit is perilously close to the Atlantic Ocean, many folks express concern when a storm comes by. Our criteria for evacuation include the wind direction and velocity. Over 50 mph, the animals are all brought inside. If the predictions are over 70 mph, we evacuate inland. The clinic is at sea level and flooding can also be a factor. All electrical equipment can be elevated with the exception of the freezers. With over 1000 lbs of fish, they cannot be lifted off the floor!

How can I visit Sea Biscuit or see your birds?
To provide a quiet, safe atmosphere for our patients, we are not open for visitation. However, we host open houses and give educational talks and programs throughout the year. Our education birds usually are in attendance. Information about these events will be posted on our website soon.

Can Sea Biscuit do an educational presentation for my group?
Sea Biscuit has presented to groups ranging from pre-schoolers to retirees, both at its facility and farther afield at community group meetings, lecture series, and festivals. If your group is interested in a presentation with us, please call our information line, but please give generous lead time before your event.

Can I volunteer at Sea Biscuit? / Can my child or grandchild volunteer at Sea Biscuit?
Volunteering is a wonderful way to support Sea Biscuit, but the tasks and responsibilities are a fit for older teenagers or adults only and require a serious commitment. Visit our Volunteering at Sea Biscuit page to learn more about how you can get involved as a volunteer.

What is Sea Biscuit’s federal tax identification number or EIN?
Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter is a 503(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our EIN is 35-2308123.

I found a sea turtle that is dead, injured, or stranded on a beach. What should I do?
Call the North Carolina sea turtle stranding network at (252) 241-7367. Do not attempt to return stranded sea turtles to the water.

I found a dolphin or other marine mammal that is stranded on a beach. What should I do?
If you are in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender or Onslow Counties, call (910) 962-7266. If you are elsewhere in the state call (252) 241-5119 or, if you are in the Outer Banks, (252) 455-9654. Do not attempt to return stranded marine mammals to the water.