How many of our mothers told us that if you touch a fallen baby bird, the human smell will drive away the parents and they will no longer care for it? How many individuals have discovered a nest of baby bunnies in a field, no parent in sight, presumed they had been abandoned, and took them home and tried to raise them? How many”left” baby birds have been”rescued” simply because they were discovered on the ground and couldn’t quite fly yet? . .how many animal lovers have raised a baby raccoon for a pet, only to be badly bitten when that adorable baby grew into an unmanageable adolescent?
How many folks realize that taking in wildlife without a special license to care for them isn’t even legal in most countries? Most do not, and generations of people have educated their kids these myths, presuming they were reality simply because good grandpa told grandma, who told dad, who passed the wisdom (or lack thereof) along.
If a baby bird falls from the nest, the very best thing you can do for it is to attempt to get it back in the nest. If you cannot get it into that nest, then make a makeshift nest (a strawberry 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 do not care if you managed it, and will, indeed, almost definitely return to feed it until it can fledge (leave the nest). If it’s an older infant, fully feathered, hopping about on the ground, leave it alone!
“Falling out of the nest” is a very normal part of how old babies learn to fly. Its parents are nearby, watching, encouraging it to use those small wings. Unless you’re absolutely certain the parents are dead, don’t interfere. Casselberry Wildlife Removal
Wild rabbits, the ultimate prey species, only return to their nests once or twice a day to nurse their young. Those babies”abandoned” in the field aren’t abandoned at all. They have 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 among the primary animals to spread rabies. They also carry a sort of roundworm that’s often fatal to other animal species. . .including humans.
Thus, if you find a wild animal or bird which is actually in need of rescue (you are certain beyond doubt the parents are dead, or it’s been injured in some way that needs medical attention), 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 region.
And what do you teach the kids?
As soon as you find your local rehab center, stick with them. They need your support. They get no government funds, and every effort they make comes out of their own pockets. They are sometimes on call at insane hours, and the job of caring for orphaned and injured animals is one that often receives no thanks, and gets no downtime. Once”baby season” begins, many rehabilitators get very little rest, and they are all unpaid volunteers.
Learn their schedule and show up to encourage them at these talks. Bring the kids!
Ask whether the centre gives tours (they will not be able to show you animals who are to be released, but many have enlightening animals as permanent residents), and make an appointment to bring the kids. Although you won’t be working with the wild animals, there are quite a few other chores that have to be done, and lots of centers accept volunteer offers happily. Encourage your kids to listen and learn, and to truly care.
By becoming a household that supports your regional wildlife rehabbers, you have not just helped to protect this generation of wild creatures. You’ve set forth on the experience of raising a new generation of educated humans who can teach their own children security, wisdom and respect for all life.