So much misinformation circulates through our lives about wildlife. How many of our mothers told us that if you touch a fallen baby bird, the human smell will drive the parents away and they’ll no longer care for this? How many people have discovered a nest of baby bunnies in a field, no parent in sight, presumed they were abandoned, and took them home and tried to raise them? How many”left” baby birds have been”rescued” simply because they were found on the floor and couldn’t quite fly yet? Or worse yet. . .how many animal lovers have raised a baby raccoon for a pet, only to be badly bitten when that adorable baby become an unmanageable adolescent?
How many folks realize that taking in wildlife without a special license to care for them is not even legal in many countries? Most don’t, and generations of people have taught their kids these myths, assuming they were fact simply because great grandpa told grandma, who told father, who passed the wisdom (or lack thereof) along. Winter Springs Wildlife Removal
If a baby bird falls from the nest, the best thing you can do for it is to attempt and get it back in the nest. If you cannot get it back into that nest, create a makeshift nest (a cherry basket or margarine tub lined with paper towels will do) and tuck it into a safe spot near where you found the bird. The parents don’t care if you handled it, and will, indeed, almost definitely return to feed it till it can fledge (leave the nest). If it’s an older baby, fully feathered, hopping about on the floor, leave it alone!
“Falling from the nest” is a very normal part of how older babies learn to fly. Its parents are nearby, watching, encouraging it to use those small wings. Unless you are absolutely certain the parents are dead, don’t interfere.
Wild rabbits, the ultimate prey species, only return to their nests a couple of times a day to nurse their young. Those babies”abandoned” in the field are not abandoned at all. They’ve been left there by their mothers, to avoid leading predators to the nest.
And raccoons? Even experienced wildlife rehabilitators can’t legally raise raccoons without a special permit for rabies vector species. Raccoons are considered one of the most dangerous creatures to rehabilitate, and not just because they are one of the primary animals to spread rabies. They also carry a sort of roundworm that is often deadly to other animal species. . .including humans.
So, if you find a wild animal or bird which is actually in need of rescue (you are certain beyond doubt that the parents are dead, or it has been hurt in some way that needs medical care ), what can you do? Keep watch on it, try not to handle it if at all possible, and dig out the number of your nearest wildlife rehabilitator. Many vets have a list of rehabbers local to them, or you can Google”wildlife rehabilitators” for your area.
And what do you teach the children?
As soon as you find your local rehab center, stick together. They need your support. They get no government funding, and every attempt they make comes from their own pockets. They’re sometimes on call at insane hours, and the job of caring for orphaned and injured animals is one that frequently receives no thanks, and gets no downtime. Once”baby season” begins, many rehabilitators get very little rest, and they’re all unpaid volunteers.
Many rehabbers put on public education programs, giving talks throughout their area to teach people how to properly deal with their wild animal neighbors. Learn their schedule and show up to support them at these discussions. Bring the kids!
Ask if the centre gives tours (they won’t be able to show you animals who are to be released, but many have enlightening creatures as permanent residents), and make an appointment to bring the kids. Find out how you can support their efforts, through donations or volunteering. Though you won’t be working with the wild animals, there are many other chores that need to be done, and lots of centers accept volunteer offers happily. Encourage your children to listen and learn, and to truly care.
By becoming a household that supports your local wildlife rehabbers, you haven’t just helped to protect this generation of crazy creatures. You have set forth on the experience of raising a new generation of educated humans who will teach their own kids safety, wisdom and respect for all life.