I found an injured animal! Does it need help?

Yes! Time to step in.
  • Cannot fly or run away when you approach
  • Unconscious
  • Tangled or trapped
  • Visibly bleeding
  • Limping
  • In immediate danger

Call us at (704) 875-6521 x125 and speak to our team before bringing the bird in​.

No, this animal is okay on its own.
  • Flying and walking normally
  • Run and/or flies away when you approach​
  • No visible injuries​

Wild is best! This animal is likely okay on its own​.

Capture Tips

If you’ve found a raptor that needs help, please call our Raptor Hospital at (704) 875-6521 x125. We will make every effort to send help to contain and rescue the bird. Sometimes, we rely on the people who find them to bring them to us for care. There is currently no after-hours drop-off.

Containing and Transporting Raptors

  1. Injured birds don’t know that you’re trying to help and may try to escape or protect themselves from you. Sharp beaks and talons can cause injury! Protect yourself by using thick leather gloves and eye protection.
  2. Contain and transport injured raptors in a cardboard box large enough for the bird to turn around and stand up in. Prepare the box by punching air holes in the sides and lining it with a soft towel or t-shirt.
  3. Approach the bird with caution. Depending on the bird’s size and injury, you may be able to secure it by throwing a large towel or blanket over it.  Gently but firmly lift the covered bird and lower it into the box with gloved hands.  Close the box securely!
  4. During transport to us or a licensed rehabilitator, keep the bird in a quiet, warm, dark environment, away from children and pets. Although it may be tempting to check on it, please disturb them as little as possible. This will protect the bird from additional stress and give it the best chance of surviving.
  5. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GIVE IT WATER, FOOD, OR CARE FOR IT on your own. While well intended, this will likely kill the bird. Our staff are highly skilled in rehabilitation and use their knowledge of biology, natural history, veterinary medicine, avian care, and avian husbandry to successfully rehabilitate raptors. They are also licensed by the State of NC and the federal government (USFWS).
  6. Once the bird arrives at our Raptor Hospital, we will perform a complete physical exam, take radiographs and other diagnostics to evaluate the bird’s injuries, and provide critical lifesaving care.
  7. We will provide you with the patient's identification number and invite you to track its road to recovery!

Thank you for your kindness, compassion, and dedication to wildlife! We are fortunate that people like you in our community are making a positive impact on the world around us by helping an animal in need and supporting our work at Carolina Raptor Center. Stay involved and join the flock!

Is this bird a raptor?

We specialize in raptors! Raptors are a group of predatory birds that capture live prey and/or scavenge.

Raptors have:


Sharp Hooked Beak


Sharp Talons

If you've found a bird that is not a raptor, please contact NC Wildlife Resources Commission or Nationwide Wildlife Rehabilitation Directory for help.

Do's and Don'ts of Raptor Rescue


  • CALL a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately and follow their instructions (To find the nearest wildlife hospital, call your local Humane Society, veterinarian, or state wildlife agency ​
  • APPROACH the animal with caution. Remember, it does not know you are trying to help and will likely try to defend itself and escape.​
  • GUARD yourself against injury. Wear gloves and long sleeves if possible.​
  • CONTAIN the animal in a clean, dry, covered box. Line the box with newspaper or an old towel (no holes or stringy edges). This will absorb any fluids and give the animal better footing.​
  • PROTECT the animal in a quiet, dark place, away from family or pets, preferably at a warm temperature (80°-90°). Resist the urge to peek in the box! This only adds to the animal’s stress. ​
  • TRANSPORT the animal to a rehabilitation center ASAP! Don’t wait a couple of days or a week until it is convenient. If you aren’t available to transport right away, enlist a friend to help!​


  • Offer food or fluids. This can kill the animal!
  • Keep the animal any longer than is absolutely necessary. Get it to a wildlife hospital!​
  • Handle the animal after it is safely contained. ​
  • Try to administer medical treatment (applying tourniquets, immobilizing fractures, etc.).​

Baby Raptors

Click to enlarge

Flow chart depicting what to do if you find a baby raptor.

Growth Stages


Nearly all down feathers; entirely relies on parents for food


A mix of down and feathers left the nest but still relies on parents for food


Mostly feathers; starting to fly and hunt but still needs parents for food


All feathers, fully independent

Donate to the Raptor Hospital

An average raptor rehabilitation often costs more than $1000, with more complex cases going up from there. Your donations allow us to continue to provide high-quality care to hundreds of sick, injured, and orphaned birds each year.

Donate Now