Encountering Young Wildlife

Written on June 06, 2018 by Dr. Jessie Fix Hospital: Bulger Veterinary Hospital

It’s that time of year again, the weather is warmer and the trees are blooming.  It’s also the time of year where we encounter young wildlife.

What do I do if I find a baby bird?baby-bird_eric-schmuttenmaer-660x441

Baby birds (fledglings) are learning to fly. They will often leap from the nest and fall to the ground. It sounds scary, but this is their way of learning.  If you see a baby bird on the ground and it has feathers, leave it where it is. Don’t worry, mama and papa bird are around and watching. Wait a couple of hours. If the bird is still on the ground, or if it does not have any feathers yet, you can pick it up and put it back in it’s nest (if it is visible and if you are able to safely reach it). Contrary to popular belief, your smell will not cause the parents to shun the baby bird.

If it’s been a few hours, there is no sign of the parents, and you can not find the nest, you should call a local wild life rehabilitator prior to bringing it to a wildlife center.

What do I do if I find a baby bunny nest?Rabbit Outside on Grass

Rabbits often build their nests into the ground. It is usually covered by grass or brush. If you accidentally uncover one, just cover them back up and leave the site. Rabbits tend to their young around dusk and dawn.  They do not live in the nest with their young.  They do this to try and keep predators away from finding their young.

What do I do if I find a baby bunny alone?

Leave it where it is! Mom is always around. Often times the mother rabbit is moving her young to a new nest, but she can only do this one bunny at a time. She will be back. If she sees you hovering around, she will wait until you are gone.

Can I feed wild geese and ducks?

Ideally, you would not feed the local wildlife.  Young geese and ducks are learning to forage. If they have a constant supply of food during the nice weather, they will not learn the skills they need to survive during the colder months when people are not around to supply them with food.  Breads and potato chips are empty calories and will not provide the nutrients necessary for a sustainable life, especially during a young water fowl’s development.

Young birds grow at an exponential rate (especially compared to humans).  Each meal for them is an important one. An inappropriate diet for young or adult birds can lead to a condition known as “Angel Wing” where the wing does not lie properly against the body. This prohibits the birds from flying. As you probably know, flying is essential for foraging, avoiding predators, avoiding cars/traffic, but also migration.

How can I contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility if I have questions?

Please refer to the Mass.gov website for a directory of rehabilitators near you. 


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