Raptor Rescue

I’ve found an injured bird of prey- what do I do?

When you find a raptor that is obviously damaged or ill, then you need to try and catch it. Look for a cardboard box big enough to hold the bird. Place an old towel, piece of carpet in the bottom of the box to stop the injured bird sliding around. Punch some ventilation holes around the base of the box walls. Use another towel to catch the distressed bird by approaching it from behind and gently casting the towel over its body to cover its head. Then take it to a licensed rehabilitation centre as soon as possible. Raptor Rescue’s facilities are specifically for the needs of birds of prey. Call Ben on the Raptor Rescue Hotline,  082 35 90 900, for assistance.

Is a bird of prey going to eat my pet?

Most raptors are a lot smaller than they look. They are literally all feathers! Yellow-billed kites, for example, while they look quite large weigh in at less than one kilogram. They will often fly over to investigate any activity in your garden. During breeding season the adult birds may try to bomb you, or your pet, if you stray too close to their nest, but they are certainly not trying to eat you.
To confirm whether you should be apprehensive about your pet, look at the size of the raptor’s feet – not it’s wings. If the bird has large talons in comparison to the size of your cat or dog then be cautious and invite your pet inside while the bird is in the vicinity. The African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene) has a big wingspan and small dainty feet – your dog is safe. Crowned eagles have big feet to go with their broad wings, so you could be more concerned if you are the owner of a ‘miniature’ pet. So saying, the African Crowned Eagle predates primarily on monkeys and dassies and do not actively seek out pets to eat. Every now and again a young bird, which is struggling to hunt successfully, will try a small unsuspecting pet. They are pale white in colour and will be easy to identify.