||This page has been prepared
for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is
designed for the needs of the following species: Alle
alle - Dovekie (Little auk), Alca
torda - Razorbill, Cepphus
grylle - Black guillemot, Fratercula
arctica - Atlantic puffin, Fulmarus
glacialis - Northern fulmar, Hydrobates
pelagicus - European storm-petrel , Morus
bassanus - Northern gannet, Oceanodroma
leucorhoa - Leach's storm-petrel, Phalacrocorax
carbo - Great cormorant, Phalacocorax
aristotelis - European Shag, Puffinus
griseus - Sooty shearwater, Puffinus
puffinus - Manx shearwater, Uria
aalge - Common murre (Common guillemot).
species are from the families Laridae,
- Cardboard box may not be sufficiently strong for larger seabirds, particularly when the
base gets wet or oily. ( P24.335.w20)
- Plastic cat-carrying box, with rubber on the floor to provide a non-slip surface,
covered with thick towels is suitable for short-term transport. (P24.335.w20,
- Transport kennel (pet carrier), with the door and any windows covered with a towel to
reduce visual stress. (P24.335.w20)
- Wooden box, with smooth inside walls. Floor must be padded as for other boxes. (P24.335.w20)
- Container should be sufficiently large to allow the occupant to stand and
to stretch its neck.
- Container does not need to be large enough to allow the wings to be fully
Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:
- Keep in a quiet place away from noise and other animals, particularly dogs and cats,
also away from constant human activity. (P24.335.w14)
- Substrate (flooring) must be non-abrasive, soft and easily cleanable or frequently
- Rubber matting, alone or covered with thick towels may be used, also thick towels alone
(if the base of the accommodation is not slippery i.e. not plastic, tiles or bare metal),
sponge matting such as camping mats.
- Quiet warm box with towel as substrate for adequate grip. (D24)
- Net-bottomed cage:
- a cage with a bottom or false bottom made from soft nylon netting
stretched over a wooden frame.
- droppings fall through, reducing feather soiling
- Reduced friction on feathers, legs and keel
- Cotton netting, mesh size 11-18mm, with e.g. PVC pipe as a frame, the netting stretched
over the frame and hooked onto the frame with screws placed every 5cm on the bottom of the
frame. Net must be smooth, without abrasive knots. Frame should be at least 15 cm from the
true floor of the container. (P24.335.w21).
- Box with soft bedding such as rubber mats, deeply-layered newspaper or old towels. (B197.15.w15,
- Heating, if required (for birds which are fluffed up and depressed or in poor condition)
using an infra red heat lamp, wrapped hot water bottle, electric heater heat pad or low
wattage/red coloured light bulb.
- Provide a temperature gradient, allowing the bird to choose its most comfortable
position relative to the heat source.
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:
- Provide accommodation which is as quiet and private as possible, away from noise and
other animals, particularly dogs and cats, also away from constant human activity (P24.335.w14)
- Accommodation should be large enough to allow the bird to stand, stretch and flap its
- Area small enough to make catching easy without chasing if repeated handling is required
(e.g. for assisted feeding or medication).
- Soft rubber/sponge matting may be used (e.g. camping sleep mat) as an appropriate
substrate (flooring). It is easily hosed clean and is soft, but can be very slippery. May
need weighting down e.g. with rocks to prevent it slipping on the underlying floor. Rocks
may be covered in towels or rubber to avoid abrasive surfaces. (B225,
- Sand, spot-cleaned, raked daily, changed regularly. (B225)
- Provide access to water for bathing after first 48 hours, initially for short periods
e.g. five minutes; access to water sufficient for bathing is required to maintain plumage
- If an individual becomes very wet after bathing, ensure the bird can be kept warm while
- Pools, if not built in to the enclosure, may be e.g. a children's paddling/swimming
pool, large plastic container etc.
- Provide a means of easy access to and exit from the water, e.g. long sheet of rubber
matting draped into the pool.
- Weak birds should be provided with access to water only when supervised.
- Even critically ill individuals may need to be placed in warm water for short periods to
- Ensure access to drinking water, at all times. (B118.18.w18)
- Perches should be available for species which use them. These may be natural branches or
rocks, depending on the species. Rocks may be covered with towels or rubber to avoid the
risk of abrasion. (P24.335.w21)
- Good ventilation and cleaning is important to minimise exposure to
respiratory pathogens (particularly Aspergillus fumigatus).
- Provide protection from cold weather. (B336.13.w13)
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent)
- Should be maintained in an outdoor aviary prior to release to allow flight and
re-adaptation to the external environment.
- Can only be group housed with other birds sufficiently large and strong to defend
- Large aviary, with weldmesh netting.
- Wire must be thick (14 or 16 gauge), as rounded as possible and without sharp edges (P24.335.w21)
- Wooden slatting (raptor slats) may be preferable; this reduces feather damage and
prevents bird from clinging to the sides of the enclosure. (P24.335.w21)
- Thick plastic/tarpaulin may be used to line enclosures and cover wire (on the inside of
the wire). (P24.335.w21)
- Accommodation should provide unrestricted access to a pool of reasonable size (D28,
- Surface skimming of pools is highly recommended and is essential for birds which have
been oiled or if oily fish is being fed (as this may contaminate the water).
- Easy exit from the water is essential, either a gentle slope or water flush with the top
of the pool is suggested.
- Ramps may be used to provide easy access to/from the water; it is important that
several ramps are provided so that aggressive birds cannot prevent more timid birds from
entering or leaving the water. (V.w5,
- Fresh water is preferred for birds regaining waterproofing after oiling.
- If salt water is required, fresh water may be salted with 10kg aquarium salt per 300
litres water. (P24.335.w21)
- Water depth should allow birds to swim without their feet scraping the bottom of the
pool. Suggested minimum depths include: cormorants 50cm, shearwaters 30cm small
petrel 30cm, large petrels 50cm. (P24.335.w21)
- Sand (dry and well drained) is suitable as a substrate. (P24.335.w14)
- Sand should be spot-cleaned and raked daily and the sand changed regularly. (B225,
- Changing sand about every week (slightly longer if raked regularly and at shorter
intervals in wet weather). (J23.15.w2)
- Well-drained pea gravel and clay-based cat litter have both been reported as useful for
preventing the development of foot lesions. (B10.23.w27)
- However, clay litter, while absorbing faecal matter, dries out the
- A grassed (turfed) area may be used; effort is required to keep this clean. (P24.335.w14,
- Soft rubber or vinyl matting may be useful in resting areas (J23.17.w1)
- In many zoos, a polyvinyl hose-through matting is used on land
areas of enclosures, allowing faeces and urates to drop through, and
easily drying out after hosing down, thereby providing a dry
- Natural branches should be provided for perching species.
- Perches over the water but above water level for many species.
- Logs and branches partially submerged, and allowing perching with the tail feathers
totally out of the water, for e.g. cormorants.
- Resting platform e.g. a floating wooden platform anchored by tying to a cement brick.
- Providing rocks to stand on may assist in keeping feet in good condition for some
species; covering the rocks with e.g. rubber may be useful to prevent abrasion of feet.
- It is important to ensure than cormorants are provided with
sufficient dry areas to stand and allow their plumage to dry.
- Towels or similar cloth hung vertically inside the enclosure may be used to provide
visual barriers for birds to hide behind; these must not have frayed edges which birds may
become tangled in.
- Leafy branches hung in corners may be used to provide cover.
- Burrowing species may appreciate a box with a hole or pipe entrance.