What to do if…

Q1. What to do if I want to make an Owl box?

A. Click here to find out.

Q2. What do I do if I observe a ringed bird?

A. Please observe well, and do take photos. Take note of:

  • The Ring Number and or colour
  • If colour combination only then Left leg colours top to bottom followed by Right leg top to bottom
  • Date Found
  • Precise location. GPS co-ordinates are very valuable
  • Then click here to report your lucky sighting.

Q3. What do I do if I find a dead bird? 

A. If the bird is in a reasonable condition then store it in your freezer until you are able to get it to David Allen at the Durban Natural Science Museum (DNSM).

The DNSM Research Centre is located at the corner of KE Masinga (Old Fort Road) and Wyatt Road in central Durban.  Parking at the rear of the building with its entrance on Wyatt Road. Tel: 031 3112256.

Q4. What do I do if I find an injured wild bird that cannot fly?

A. Follow these steps:

  1. Avoid stressing the bird further by eliminating any distractions. If you have other animals, or children keep them away so as not to harm the bird.
  2. Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitation professional in your area. In eThekwini our contact would be
    1. CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation Of Wildlife), Wildlife Centre, 2 Coedmore Avenue, Yellowwood Park, Durban. Tel: +27 (31) 462 1127, Email. Note CROW have pick up points around the municipality so call them and find where you can leave the injured animal/bird closest to where you live.
    2. African Birds of Prey Sanctuary. Tel: 031 785 4382; Cell: 082 925 3023. Click here for directions.
    3. You can also try calling a veterinary hospital that treats birds, and they may be able to direct you to a rehabilitation site.
  3. Find a cardboard box or other container to hold the bird. Be sure the container is bird-safe (won’t entangle the bird’s wings or feet, isn’t air tight, NO wire cages that will break the bird’s feathers). The box should be large enough that the bird can move and turn around in, but not too large that it can flap and fly and cause further harm to himself. Poke holes into the sides of the box as well as on the top so the bird can easily breathe. Do this before placing the bird in the box.
  4. Approach the bird slowly and drop a towel gently over top of it. Have patience. If you cannot come close enough to the bird to do this, do not chase it. Use a towel that will not unravel. The birds nails can easily get caught in towels that are terry cloth or have loops in the fiber.
  5. Scoop up the bird in the towel and very gently place it into the box, towel and all. Secure the box with tape, being sure that there is enough air circulation for the bird to breathe. Keep the box in a dark, warm area where there are no loud noises. You can keep a heating pad on low under one half of the box. If you have to take the bird in yourself to the rehab center, do not have a radio on in your vehicle – noises will frighten the bird.
  6. Do not attempt to feed the bird or perform any first aid. Birds are very easily stressed by handling and need an experienced veterinarian to care for them.
  7. Deliver the bird to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation professional or a veterinarian who is willing to accept the bird.  Birds have diverse requirements for diet, care and wild birds do not adapt well to captivity.
  8. Ask the rehabilitation expert if you can release the bird if he is able to get well again. Often birds should be released near where they were found. That is the best reward for the kindness of rescuing an injured bird!

Q5. What should I do if I find a baby bird out of its nest?

A. There are several scenarios about baby birds found out of their nest. The guidelines by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are an excellent way to proceed. See their site here.

Q6.  What do I do if I find a bird trapped in a room?

A. The following is a guideline to get the bird to fly out of its own accord without undue stress.

  • Turn off any ceiling fans or vents that the bird might get sucked into.
  • Usher out any bystanders, pets and other stressors. The confined bird is likely panicked and may have difficulty finding its way out until it’s calmer.
  • Cover mirrors and other reflective surfaces with blankets or sheets. Some birds may become aggressive toward their own reflections.
  • Confine the bird to a single room, if possible. Close the entrance and all but one exit route, whether a door or window. Turn out all lights, and pull the shades on any closed windows. A bird is likely to follow sources of natural light; you want it to perceive one as a path to liberation.
  • Leave the bird alone and give it time. It may take a while before it finds the exit, so be patient. The fewer disturbances—people, animals, noises—the better.
  • Call a local wildlife rehabilitation or rescue service if the bird doesn’t exit, or if it appears injured. If they recommend capturing the bird, you’ll likely have better success once the bird has tired and alights somewhere. Use a butterfly or fishing net with a long handle, or gently toss a small towel over the bird.
  • Secure the bird in a shoebox padded with cloth and punctured with air holes. Some birds may simply be stunned and need some peace and quiet—and darkness—to recover.
  • Lure a resistant bird out an exit with seed or other appropriate food scattered outside the target window or door. This tactic may also work to draw an injured bird into a better position for gentle capture.

Q7. What do I do if I want to attract birds to my garden?

A. Both of the following web sites give a common sense approach to bringing birds back to your garden. Click here and here.

If you want an excellent local book on the subject then this link will take you to Charles and Julia Botha’s book “Bring Nature Back to your Garden”.

Q8. What do I do if I want to set my binoculars for my eyes?

This is done in two parts. First set the two barrels of the binoculars to the correct distance apart and then set the focus for each eye.

To set the binoculars barrels to the correct distance apart, move the two barrels closer together or further apart until you can see through both eyepieces comfortably and the image appears as one.

To focus your binoculars for your eyes:

  • close your right eye and look at a distant object through your binoculars with your left eye.
  • adjust the centre focusing wheel until the image comes into focus. Your eye will try to adjust as well, so look away, wait a few seconds until it relaxes and look back again and repeat to re-adjust the focus.
  • Then leave the centre focus wheel untouched to adjust for your right eye.
  • Now close your left eye and adjust the dioptre correction (where it shows + and -) until the image becomes sharp.
  • Once this is done you should not have to touch the dioptre adjustment again as all the focusing will now be done using the centre wheel for both eyes.

 Q9. What do I do if I find a live bird that has been fish hooked?

  • Follow the procedures set out in the following diagram.Hooked Bird

    Q10. What do I do if I have rats in my roof?

    Rat Removal & Control

    SUMMARY: Step-by-step guide for getting rid of rats in a house or building:

    Step 1 – Inspect the entire house or building, and find any and all entry holes, as small as 1/2 inch.

    Step 2 – As you find these areas, seal them shut with steel mesh, which rats cannot chew through.

    Step 3 – Only after the home is entirely sealed shut, go into the attic space and set wooden snap traps. Bait is not important, but location is crucial. Set on rat runways, marked with droppings.

    Step 4 – Every day, remove trapped rat bodies, and re-set traps. In just 2 or 3 days, all will be caught.

    SUCCESS – Once you hear no more scurrying noises in the ceiling or walls, you know you’ve done it!
    FAILURE – If you still have rats, it means you failed at steps 1 & 2. You must find the remaining holes.

    Step 5 – Optional. Clean and disinfect the attic, which is now full of dangerous rat urine, feces, etc.

    DO NOT – Use rat poison. It not only fails to get the job done, it usually causes extra problems.
    SHOULD NOT – Use glue boards. They aren’t very effective, and they’re inhumane.
    DO NOT – Use any kind of repellent spray, powder, sound box, flashing light, etc. These gimmicks fail.

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