||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: Accipiter
gentilis - Northern goshawk, Accipiter
nisus - Eurasian sparrowhawk, Aquila
chrysaetos - Golden eagle, Buteo
buteo - Common buzzard, Buteo
lagopus - Rough-legged buzzard, Circus
aeruginosus - Western marsh harrier, Circus
cyaneus - Northern harrier, Circus
pygargus - Montagu's harrier, Haliaeetus
albicilla - White-tailed eagle, Milvus
milvus - Red kite, Pernis
apivorus - European honey buzzard, Pandion
haliaetus - Osprey, Falco
columbarius - Merlin, Falco
peregrinus - Peregrine falcon, Falco
subbuteo - Hobby, Falco
tinnunculus - Common kestrel, Athene
noctua - Little owl, Strix
aluco - Tawny owl, Asio
otus - Long-eared owl, Asio
flammeus - Short-eared owl, Nyctea
scandiaca - Snowy owl, Tyto
alba - Barn owl.
These species are from the families Accipitridae,
- Offer a rehydration (electrolyte) solution such as Lectade (Pfizer Limited) to drink on
- Water should be freely available at all times unless the casualty is unconscious or
severely debilitated and unable to hold its head up.
- Both water and a rehydration (electrolyte) solution, in separate containers, should be
made available initially.
- Gavage with rehydration (electrolyte) solution may be required on admission.(B156.15.w15,
- Birds of prey often do not drink. Food may be moistened with water or
rehydration solution, or placed in a water bowl, to increase fluid intake. (B118.16.w16)
- Casualties are often anorexic when presented and have an immediate requirement for
- Hills A/D (Hills
Pet Nutrition Ltd.); this may be mixed with rehydration solution (50:50
mixture of A/D (Hills
Pet Nutrition Ltd.,) and rehydration (electrolyte) solution). (V.w5,
- Formula designed by The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota:
Prepare 30 % solution of Nutrical (Evsco Pharmaceutical) in electrolyte (rehydration)
solution (30ml Nutrical plus 70ml electrolyte (rehydration) solution) and store in
refrigerator. Mix with human infant "second food" series meat paste (beef, veal,
chicken or turkey) in a ratio of one part solution to two parts baby food ( 30ml of 30%
Nutrical solution plus one 60g jar of baby food). Tube feed 40ml/kg three times daily.(B11.4.w17)
- Proprietary products such as Critical Care Formula (Vetark
Animal Health) have been specifically designed as a short term product for
anorectic and sick birds. (V.w26)
- Use of convalescent diets:
- May be given by crop tube (gavage feeding).
- Give up to 2% of body weight per feed.
- Assume 1ml of made-up feed equals 1g, therefore maximum 2ml of feed per 100g of bird.
- See: Gavage
/ Tubing of Birds
- Feeding meat without roughage may be useful short-term to build up
condition: since it is not necessary to wait for the casting to be produced before the
next feed, several feeds per day may be given (always wait until the crop has emptied
before feeding the next meal). (B156.16.w16)
Technique for assisted (force) feeding:
- May be required for anorectic birds, and for birds with bill or feet
injuries which interfere with food handling.
- Chopped up boluses of food should be used, of a size appropriate for easy
swallowing for the bird.
- The bird is held (may be wrapped in a towel with the head visible).
- Tapping the side of the bill gently may encourage the bird to open its
mouth; otherwise gently open the bill.
- Use tweezers to introduce small pieces of meat into the mouth.
- Allow the bird to control whether or not it swallows.
- Do not feed a large quantity of meat at one time.
- For diurnal raptors, monitor the degree of crop distention during
- Do not feed again until the crop has emptied from the previous meal.
- Convalescence diets given by gavage are required for very weak birds (see
- There is an increased risk of regurgitation if large quantities of food are given at any
one time when assisted feeding is used.
- Species and individuals vary greatly in their acceptance of assisted feeding. It may not
be accepted by flighty individuals and species such as Accipiter
nisus - Eurasian sparrowhawk.
Short term Maintenance Diet:
- Offer food twice daily, replacing uneaten food.
- Offer on the floor or in a shallow dish.
- Offer various presentations initially, e.g. whole day-old chick, day-old chick split so
the viscera are exposed, chopped day-old chick in rehydration (electrolyte) solution such
as Lectade (Pfizer Ltd.).(D24)
Suggested short term maintenance diets include:
- Whole rodents, whole birds or whole fish, depending on raptor species.
- Dead day-old chicks, quail, rats, mice, guinea
pig, rabbit and beef or horse meat; avoid feeding only a single food type for long
- Mice, rats, day-old chicks.(P24.233.w9)
- Provide the natural food for the species if possible.(B118.16.w16)
- Provide a variety of food items, particularly if the food provided is
dissimilar from natural prey, to reduce the risk of the bird learning to concentrate on a
single food type, especially one which is unnatural.(J23.23.w2)
- Food which looks like the natural prey may be eaten more readily that
that which does not, for example brown laboratory mice may be taken more readily than
white laboratory mice.(J23.23.w1)
- Fresh road-killed birds may be useful.(B118.16.w16,
- Young mice and rats are useful for owls and kestrels. (B118.16.w16)
- Day-old chicks are useful; a vitamin/mineral supplement must be added if
they are used for more than a few days.(B118.16.w16,
- Quail, young chicken poults and young turkey poults may be used. (B156.16.w16
- Fresh raw meat such as shin beef may be used. This should be supplemented
with vitamin/mineral supplement, sterilised bonemeal for added calcium and roughage in the
form of e.g. dog or cat hair, rabbit fur or small chicken or passerine feathers to allow
the formation of a pellet (casting) for regurgitation. (B118.16.w16,
- Mice or rabbit may be used to tempt inappetant birds.(D24)
- For Pandion
haliaetus - Osprey fish should be provided, e.g. herring
plus fresh water fish as available.(J23.23.w1)
- Barn owl may only eat rodents.(B203)
- Barn owl: dead day-old chicks, with occasional small mammals such as domestic mice or
"weaner" size rats.(D47)
- Supplement day-old chicks with small amounts of vitamin-mineral supplement such
as SA37 (Intervet
UK Ltd.) or Vionate (E.R.
Squibb and Sons Limited) if only chicks are used.(D47)
- Small mammals (mice, voles, shrews, moles, nestling rabbits) and small birds killed and
brought home by cats may be used, but not if rodent poisons have been used nearby.(D47)
- Guidance for amounts:
- If all the food is eaten, offer more; if food is left, decrease the amount offered.
- Kestrel: one day-old chick per day. (B156.16.w16)
- Female goshawk: 4-5 day-old chicks per day.(B156.16.w16)
- Tawny owl: two or three day-old chicks daily, plus a mouse twice weekly. (B203)
- Barn owl: 1.5 to 2.5 day-old chicks per night.
In an emergency:
- Any fresh raw meat such as mince, heart, shin beef, chicken etc.(B156.16.w16,