Our general FAQ includes some of the questions most often asked on our Wild Bird Helpline.
If you require additional information do not hesitate to contact our staff at 450 458 2809 ext. 1. Please note that we do not accept pigeons or birds of prey.
Interested in attracting wild birds to your backyard? Be sure to provide access to food, shelter, water, and good nesting sites are some ways you can encourage birds on your property. In particular, consider planting indigenous fruit-producing plants to entice birds.
Many birds make their nests on porches, window ledges, or other areas used by people, and this sometimes creates conflict. People dislike the noise, mess, and possibility of parent birds attacking. The birds simply want to incubate and raise their young without humans interfering.
If you find a nest with eggs or babies inside, wait until the nestlings are old enough to leave the nest. On average, this happens 2 to 3 weeks after hatching, with a few exceptions.
Most bird species are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (S.C. 1994, c. 22), and it is illegal to remove the nest, the eggs, and the young.
Before nesting season, or once the birds have left, remove the deserted nest and make the location unfavorable for nesting.
Often, the best approach is prevention: discourage birds from building their nests in these places.
Build surfaces on an angle, and reduce flat surfaces by placing pylons, wood stakes or other objects on them.
String aluminum plates, strips of plastic or colored cloth, etc., along access points.
Install vent caps and grate covers to prevent birds from nesting in dryer vents, stove vents, and other outlets from the house.
DO NOT enclose the vent or access point while babies are still inside. This will block off the mother, and the babies could starve to death. Not only is this illegal [Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (S.C. 1994, c. 22)], but leaving dead birds inside the house is highly unsanitary.
The Chimney Swift, listed as a threatened species in Canada, is a small swallow-like migratory bird that nests and roosts in chimneys. Swift nests may not remain well attached to the inside brick of a poorly maintained chimney. A nest could fall from where it was attached on the inside of a chimney into the fireplace or, if the damper is closed, onto the damper.
Should a Chimney Swift be returned to the chimney? Ask yourself these questions:
Does the bird have feather shafts or feathers?
Is the bird chattering?
Is the bird able to cling upright to a towel or to the surface of a cage?
If you answered “YES” to these questions and the bird is in good condition, gently pick up the bird and replace it in the chimney above the damper. Its parents will not go below the damper to get it.
If you answer “NO” to any of these questions, call us at 450-458-2809, ext. 1. Chimney Swifts are fragile birds and will require assistance as soon as possible.
Remember: It is a federal offence to remove or disturb Chimney Swifts, their nests, eggs, or young.
Other birds, especially starlings, are known to fall down chimneys and get caught in the damper or fall into the fireplace. They will announce their presence by loud twittering and fluttering. These birds are unable to fly up the chimney again, and must be helped out of the chimney and out of the house.
How to free a bird from your chimney:
Close off the room, and keep all children and pets away.
Darken the room by closing blinds, doors, etc., leaving only one exit (open a window or door as much as possible to create a large, bright and sunny direction) for the bird to fly out.
Leave the room or hide quietly. Chasing the bird will cause the bird stress and could result in its death. Be patient. It might take an hour or two for the bird to relax and find its way out.
This occurs most frequently in the spring, usually because the bird is establishing its territory and announcing its search for a mate. If this behaviour occurs later in the year, it may be that the wood of your house is infested with insects.
If a woodpecker drums on your house in the spring, start prevention efforts as soon as possible. Woodpeckers are not easily driven away from their established territories.
To prevent damage, consider doing the following:
Restrict: Cover the area being pecked with a plastic tarp, aluminum sheeting, or cardboard.
Discourage: Hang bright strips of cloth, plastic, or foil to flutter in the wind.
Assess: Check the wood, and treat any insect infestations right away.
If a bird continues to peck or drum, the behavior should end within 6-8 weeks, lasting only during the early nesting period.
If a woodpecker pecks at a tree, likely the tree offers a good food source (insects). This is a warning that your tree is damaged. You can either do nothing or seek expert advice on the problem with the tree.
Young woodpeckers are very aggressive towards each other in the nest and may push smaller birds out of the nest hole. If you see a young woodpecker out of its nest cavity, do not put it back. The baby will likely be pushed out again. Do not approach or remove the bird. Simply observe it from a distance. If after 1 hour the bird is not reunited with its parents please call Le Nichoir at 450 458-2809, ext. 1.
DO NOT remove an old tree during the spring or early summer unless doing so is unavoidable, as birds may be nesting in it. If a tree with a woodpecker nest is felled, cut the nest hole portion out of the tree and re-hang it close to the old site. Watch from a safe distance for a few hours – if the parents DO NOT return to care for the babies, please call Le Nichoir at 450-458-2809, ext. 1 as soon as possible.
When will a bird be released after care?nichoir_mpnkps2021-06-22T17:42:31+00:00
One of the most exciting and satisfying days at Le Nichoir is when birds are released. Opening the door and allowing them to fly out into their natural habitat is the goal we strive to achieve with every bird we admit. Most birds are released directly from Le Nichoir, although birds that require a special habitat are taken to the most appropriate location for release.
The duration of a bird’s stay at Le Nichoir depends on its age, species and initial injuries. All birds are carefully observed daily to determine their readiness for release. Before release, birds must be able to fly well, be self-feeding, and be in good physical condition. Depending on the species, baby birds are released at 6 – 8 weeks of age, once they have had ample time to practice flight, condition their feathers, and forage for food in our flight cages. Injured birds may stay from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the injuries.
Can I keep a wild bird as a pet?nichoir_mpnkps2021-06-22T17:43:43+00:00
Although it may be tempting, we highly discourage keeping wild birds as pets or attempting to provide them with medical care. First and foremost, legally, most species are protected under provincial or federal law, andit is illegal to keep them in your possession. But there is also the bird’s welfare to think about.
Well-Intentioned but Harmful
Very often, Le Nichoir admits birds from well-meaning individuals who have turned to the Internet for information on what to do when finding a wild bird in need. Almost always, the information is incorrect and detrimental to the bird. Virtually all birds admitted after being kept by these individuals show signs of neglect or abuse, due to improper housing conditions or diet, whether intentional or not. Poor feather quality, broken plumage, developmental issues, habituation, housing-related injuries, and malformation due to nutrient deficiency are all common effects. Birds released into the wild under these circumstances are unlikely to survive.
Each species has very specific dietary needs, essential to their overall health. Food sold in stores is mainly formulated for exotic or tropical birds, such as parrots. The food is unfit for native wild birds. Giving wild birds the wrong food, even for a few days, can lead to permanent, sometimes life threatening, health issues. Improper handling and housing can also be harmful.
Le Nichoir works with experienced veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and a full-time Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator who is certified by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). Our team follows the guidelines, regulations and standards set by the government, veterinarians and the IWRC to ensure the well-being of the birds in our care. Our staff continuously improve their training with regular attendance at conferences and workshops, and we strive to improve and update our care protocols to reflect new advancements in the field.
The most important thing to do when you find an injured bird is to make sure that this bird needs help. Rescuing birds that do not need rescuing is unfortunately more common than some think and usually happens with young birds. More than half the birds received at Le Nichoir are young birds and many of those do not need to come to us.
Download the factsheet to learn more about finding an injured bird.