If you see a raptor that appears to be injured, orphaned or ill, please call RCV at 703-578-1175 immediately. Call before trying to assist the bird.

Please be aware that in the United States it is illegal for an unauthorized person to interfere with a raptor, even if it is injured. Only a person with appropriate rehabilitation permits from both state and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or an authorized government employee, may possess, handle, or rehabilitate raptors. Even a veterinarian may hold a raptor only until it is medically stable, at which time the vet must immediately turn the raptor over to a person with the appropriate rehabilitation permits.

If you see a raptor that appears to be injured, orphaned or ill, please call RCV before trying to assist the bird. Hawks sometimes stand on the ground and rest after eating, and Great Horned Owl chicks may be cared for by their parents while remaining on the ground. RCV can help determine if the bird needs help. In addition, an injured raptor will defend itself with its talons, putting you at risk of injury if you don't know how to approach it.

If you think a raptor is in need of help don't wait, please call RCV and speak with Kent Knowles, who is in charge of raptor rehabilitation, at (703)-578-1175 (telephone). Even if you are not in Virginia, an RCV volunteer will be glad to discuss your situation with you and make suggestions.

Most raptor chicks found on the ground need to be picked up immediately - their parents will not feed them on the ground and they are vulnerable to predators like foxes, dogs and cats. Please stay with the chick and call RCV right away!

1. CALL RCV at 703-578-1175
If a raptor is in fact injured, orphaned or ill, it needs assistance right away! Untreated shock is a common cause of death in raptor trauma victims, and a grounded raptor cannot effectively protect itself from other predators. Speed of assistance is essential for its survival. Most veterinarians do not have the facilities, qualifications, experience or willingness to treat raptors, particularly trauma cases. CALL RCV IMMEDIATELY at 703-578-1175

If you have picked up the bird, put it in a cardboard box or plastic pet carrier of appropriate size. Place the box or carrier in a quiet, dark location until transport can be arranged for the bird. Make sure that the box or carrier is securely closed. Do not attempt to feed or give water to any raptor.


Local raptors may be transported directly to the RCV facilities in Falls Church, Virginia - but please call first, as we may be out dealing with other cases. We do have backup arrangements in place for the drop-off of raptors, so patients can be received 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by prior arrangement.