Social media can be both a very good thing and a very bad thing for wildlife. One of the most unfortunate trends we’ve seen over the last few years involves people taking videos and photos with seriously injured birds while declaring the unfortunate animal’s behavior miraculous.
We’re not here to knock anyone’s spiritual beliefs, but the sad reality is that this trend is seriously hurting wild birds. A disoriented bird always needs a rehabilitator, but the tendency to view them as magical or miraculous means that people fail to get them the help they need. Worse, some even end up bringing these birds home— saying that it’s their “familiar” or a reincarnated loved one— where the birds invariably die due to improper care.
If you find a bird that is landing on humans or seemingly supernaturally docile, that is always a red flag of something amiss. In most cases, this behavior is a result of a serious head injury, usually from hitting a window. (It’s not a coincidence that most of these viral stories take place in front of buildings with large windows.) In a few cases, the birds are unusually friendly because they had been raised as pets or for falconry and are not adapting properly to life in the wild.
Please… If you ever encounter an unusually friendly or docile bird, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as quickly as possible. If you’d like to turn the experience into a TikTok video or tweet, please make it a story about saving a bird, rather than a story about encountering a magical omen.