Animal parents will often leave their babies to forage, some even for days at a time, especially if they are raising their young alone. You may not see the parent, but that doesn’t mean the baby was abandoned. As compassionate rescuers, we sometimes find ourselves as ‘accidental kidnappers.’ We assume a baby animal is abandoned or orphaned before we have taken the time to really observe the situation.
If you discovered a baby animal that is not injured, the best thing you can do is leave it there. The parents may come back only after you leave the area so as not to reveal their young to a predator. The information below may help direct you in your situation.
If you are seeking advice please call our front office at 541-476-0222.
I found a baby bird
Finding baby birds grounded is not uncommon. In the spring, fledglings are learning to fly, and it takes many attempts for them to learn. This is all part of the natural process for birds, and it is a crucial part of their development. Many species of baby birds will leave the nest and spend as many as 2-5 days on the ground before they can fly. Other birds may stay near the ground for up to two weeks. The parents will still feed and care for the baby while it’s on the ground, protecting it and teaching it life skills. Taking a baby bird into captivity denies them the opportunity to learn from their parents all the skills they will need to survive in the wild.
If you suspect a nestling has fallen from the nest too early, pick it up and place it back in its nest. Birds do not have a developed sense of smell and they will not reject the baby if you touch it. If you can’t reach the nest, you can make one out of a strawberry basket lined with paper shreds, placed high in the tree.
If you find a fledgling on the ground that is in immediate danger from your pets, please keep them inside and away from the area. You may also pick the baby up and place it on a branch higher off the ground where they can hop from branch to branch, but it may just end up on the ground again. The best thing you can do is leave it there to finish learning how to fly and forage from its parents, keeping pets away.
If you find an injured baby bird or you know the parents were killed, you may box it up, remembering to keep calm and quiet as you transport it to our facility for care. If you find that you can’t come immediately, keep the bird in a warm, dark, quiet location and do not offer food or water. Please call for more information or advice.
I found a baby mammal
Many rescued baby mammals are orphaned in our area by vehicles, pets, or extermination.
Some steps we can all take to help prevent these circumstances are to seal up access holes to our homes—ensuring that we are not offering den space near our house, bringing pet food in at night, and securing garbage cans. If you take the time to make sure there isn’t a source of food or shelter inviting them in, they won’t be as tempted to den up near your home.
If you find a baby animal and you know its parent was killed, follow the steps below. If you discover a baby animal that you think may have been abandoned, take time to first observe the animal for a few days, doing your best to secure pets away from the animal. Many parents will leave their young for hours or even days at a time to forage for food. Please call for more information or advice.
To contain the baby mammal:
- Take proper precautions to protect yourself; wear gloves and eye protection, and approach with caution.
- Have a secure box or kennel ready, with a towel or blanket inside. Even babies can be somewhat difficult to catch and you’ll want to make the transfer as quick and smooth as possible.
- Bring the animal to Wildlife Images during our business hours. If you have to hold the animal for a few hours or overnight, keep it secured in a warm, dark, quiet location where it will be safe from pets and other excitement. Do not offer food or water, do not handle the animal.
- Be sure to wash up thoroughly after you have had contact with the animal. Wild animals can carry diseases that we are susceptible to. Certain animal species such as raccoons, foxes, bats, and skunks are all vector species for rabies. If you have contact with these species, bleach your items after use and wash up thoroughly.
If you have any further questions or are seeking advice, call our front desk at 541-476-0222