||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: Ardea
cinerea - Grey heron, Botaurus
stellaris - Great bittern, Platalea
leucorodia - Eurasian spoonbill, Arenaria
interpres - Ruddy turnstone, Bartramia
longicauda - Upland sandpiper, Burhinus
oedicnemus - Eurasian thick-knee (Stone curlew), Calidris
alba - Sanderling, Calidris
alpina - Dunlin, Calidris
ferruginea - Curlew sandpiper, Calidris
maritima - Purple sandpiper, Calidris
minuta - Little stint, Calidris
temminckii - Temminck's stint, Calidris
canutus - Red knot, Calidris
tenuirostris - Great knot, Charadrius
dubius - Little ringed plover, Charadrius
hiaticula - Common ringed plover, Crex
crex - Corn crake, Eudromias
morinellus - Eurasian dotterel, Fulica atra - Common coot - Common coot,
gallinago - Common snipe, Gallinula
chloropus - Common moorhen, Haematopus
ostralegus - Eurasian oystercatcher, Limosa
lapponica - Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa
limosa - Black-tailed godwit, Lymnocryptes
minimus - Jack snipe, Numenius
arquata - Eurasian curlew, Numenia
phaeropus - Whimbrel, Phaloropus
fulicaria - Red phalarope, Phalaropus
lobatus - Red-necked phalarope, Philomachus
pugnax - Ruff, Pluvialis
apricaria - Eurasian golden plover, Pluvialis
squatarola - Grey plover, Porzana
porzana - Spotted crake, Rallus
aquaticus - Water rail, Recurvirostra
avosetta - Pied avocet, Scolopax
rusticola - Eurasian woodcock, Tringa
erythropus - Spotted redshank, Tringa
glareola - Wood sandpiper, Tringa
hypoleucos - Common sandpiper, Tringa
nebularia - Common greenshank, Tringa
ochropus - Green sandpiper, Tringa
totanus - Common redshank, Vanellus
vanellus - Northern lapwing.
These species are from the families Rallidae,
- These birds are generally delicate and easily stressed. It is important to keep the
accommodation as quiet as possible.
- It is important to ensure that the flooring for long-legged birds provides secure,
- With species such as waders, whereby some species are social and others highly
territorial, the information on species-specific behaviour should be consulted when
deciding whether to house animals in groups or individually.
- Waders are mainly long-legged birds
- It is important to ensure that the substrate (flooring) in any container for long-legged
birds provides a secure grip (V.w5)
- Transport in a box or crate sufficiently tall for the bird to stand upright.
- If a sufficiently tall box is not available, extra height may be provided by replacing a
rigid top with a loose piece of hessian sacking or similar cloth.
- LONG-LEGGED BIRDS SHOULD NEVER BE TRANSPORTED WITH THEIR LEGS FOLDED AS THIS MAY LEAD TO
PERMANENT NERVE DAMAGE AND LEG PARALYSIS. THEY SHOULD ALWAYS BE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL IN A
STANDING POSITION. (B118.18.w18,
- Small species such as coots and moorhens may be carried in standard cardboard boxes
lined with newspaper.
- A towel should be provided over the newspaper whenever possible.
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)
- Cardboard box of appropriate size is suitable for most species initially.
- A non-slip non-abrasive substrate should be provided:
- Newspaper should be avoided if possible as it does not provide a good grip.
- Carpet may provide a better grip.
- Foam rubber matting (e.g. camping mats) may be used; this is soft, not-abrasive and
easily washed clean.
- Hay, straw, shredded paper etc. are not suitable due to the risk of aspergillosis and
tangling round the legs.
- Air holes should be present for ventilation, at a height which does not easily allow the
bird to see out of the box but which allows light to enter for birds to feed (e.g. holes
near the floor of the box).
- Warmth may be provided by e.g. using a heating pad underneath the box or an infra red
lamp above the box.
- Take care to avoid overheating or burns, particularly if the bird is weak or has limited
- Place heat at one end or side of the accommodation to provide a temperature gradient so
that the bird can choose the most comfortable temperature.
- The container should be sufficiently tall to allow the bird to stand and stretch its
neck, and wide enough to allow it to stretch its wings.
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)
- Provide a shelter such as a box in which the bird can get out of sight.
- Coots, moorhens and water rails may be kept in a standard cage of
sufficient size, with newspaper as a substrate. Cover the front of the cage to provide
- 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 a bird becomes very wet after bathing, ensure it can be kept warm while it dries
- Ensure access to drinking water at all times.
- Moist newspaper, sand or peat may be useful (B224)
- Sand, spot-cleaned, raked daily, changed regularly (B225)
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation:
- These species may be kept in an aviary
- The length of the aviary should be sufficient to allow flight and exercise.
- Many of these birds are easily stressed. Particular care should be taken to ensure that
the aviary accommodation ensures quiet and privacy: minimise human disturbance and enable
birds to shelter out of sight.
- Consider the use of a brick base two feet into the
ground or wire mesh the floor to minimise access of vermin to the aviary.
- Weldmesh is suitable for enclosing the aviary
- Part of the aviary should have a solid roof and sides to provide shelter and perching
sufficient for all the occupants of the aviary should be available in this area.
- At least two thirds of the roof should be covered
only by wire mesh to encourage re-acclimatisation to the outdoors.
- For a solitary aviary a safety porch (double door) system should be used to minimise the
risk of birds escaping. For a row of aviaries doors may open into a safety corridor.
- Sand over a concrete base may be used for substrate for rehabilitation aviaries as the
substrate can be removed and replaced to prevent build up of parasites and other
- should be spot-cleaned and raked daily and changed regularly (B225)
- Grassed aviaries may also be used, particularly for permanent accommodation. These
provide a greater variety of shelter and occupation for the occupants.
- 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)
- A shallow pool or bowl sufficiently large to allow the birds to bathe should be
- Water depth should allow birds to swim without their feet scraping the bottom of the
pool. Suggested minimum depth for small waders is 25 cm. (P24.335.w21)
- A sloping edge or multiple ramps e.g. of long strips of rubber matting should be
provided for easy entry and exit from the water.
- Privacy and seclusion should be provided within the aviary by plants such as bushes and
- Plantings outside the aviary will provide further seclusion.
- Provision should be made to enable observation of the occupants of aviary without the
birds knowing they are being watched. This could be a long line-of sight allowing
observation with binoculars, a peephole or a camera.
- Consider vermin control and
prevent vermin access to the aviary.
- Small species (e.g. Calidris
spp.) may require separate accommodation from larger species to avoid bullying and ensure
adequate feeding. (J23.17.w2)
avosetta - Pied avocet may develop foot lesions quickly if a substrate which
is too hard or too dry is provided (J23.19.w1);
feet are susceptible to frostbite. Indoor aviary suggested for winter, with turf or damp
peat substrate, frequently changed, a small pool, and heated sufficiently to remain
vanellus - Northern lapwing: Aviary with a shallow pool. Protection from
frost in winter usually settle well in captivity.(B97)
ostralegus - Eurasian oystercatcher: settle well in an aviary (B97)
apricaria - Eurasian golden plover: settle well in well-turfed, with a
shallow pool surrounded by an area of dry stony sand. Provide protection from frost and
severe winter weather. (B97)
dubius - Little ringed plover . Settle well in an aviary. Need protection in
arquata - Eurasian curlew: Settle well in an aviary. Large well-turfed aviary
is recommended. Shallow pool should be provided, preferably with an adjacent soft mud
(boggy) area for the birds to probe - prevents bill becoming overgrown. Provide protection
from frost at night. (B97).
limosa - Black-tailed godwit Settle well in an aviary. Large well-turfed
aviary is recommended. Shallow pool should be provided, preferably with an adjacent soft
mud (boggy) area for the birds to probe. Provide protection from frost at night(B97).
totanus - Common redshank Settle well in an aviary. Large well-turfed aviary
is recommended. Shallow pool should be provided, preferably with an adjacent soft mud
(boggy) area for the birds to probe. Provide protection in severe weather - feet easily
ochropus - Green sandpiper Aviary with a pool and surrounding area of soft
mud for probing. settle well. (B97).
hypoleucos - Common sandpiper Shallow pool very important. (B97).
interpres - Ruddy turnstone Damp very clean ground important to prevent foot
problems. Provide sand to dig in and stones to look under. Need shallow pan or pool to
bathe in every day. N.B. prefer to roost, and rest in the day, well above ground level on
a thick perch or on top of a raised nest box (B97).
alpina - Dunlin as for other small waders (B97).
- Stone-curlew (Burhinus
oedicnemus - Eurasian thick-knee): Require dry, very well-drained substrate,
also protection and a little warmth in winter(B97).
pugnax - Ruff: Settle well in an aviary. Require protection from frost and
some warmth in winter (B97).
stellaris - Great bittern: Aviary. Tend to be shy, need cover. "must not
be allowed to stand in water when there is a risk of its becoming frozen" (B97)
- Herons (Ardea
cinerea - Grey heron): require a very large
aviary, with a pool and with high perches. Cannot be kept with smaller birds. (B97)
aquaticus - Water rail: - Water rail: very timid. Need
net-topped enclosure -tend to climb up netting rather than fly out. Cover for concealment
during day (B97)
chloropus - Common moorhen: - Common moorhen: settle in
captivity. Aviary should have pool sufficiently large for swimming (B97).
atra - Common coot: - Common coot: need a large area with
a pond; not suitable for small aviaries (B97)
porzana - Spotted crake
gallinago - Common snipe: Aviary must be undisturbed; should be kept separate
from other species. provide an area or at least a tray of soft mud in which they can dig
for worms (J23.17.w2)
rusticola - Eurasian woodcock, Aviary must be undisturbed; should be
kept separate from other species. provide an area or at least a tray of soft mud in which
they can dig for worms (J23.17.w2)