Spring is finally here and it’s the time of year when there are lots of baby birds, squirrels, rabbits and all sorts of other creatures in our back yards. We at Grafton Animal Hospital get calls all the time from clients who have found a nest of babies that they have “rescued” and they need to know what to do with it next. Here are some tips for keeping the wildlife in your yard safe.
- Leave it alone: Just because you see a nest of something, it doesn’t mean it’s in distress. For a bird’s nest that has fallen from a tree, carefully pick up the nest and put it back in the tree. It is a myth that if a bird smells a human scent on the nest that she will abandon the eggs. The nest will fare better in the tree than on the ground. If you see baby birds outside the nest (birds with almost no feathers on them), then carefully place them back in the nest. These birds have fallen and will fare best back in the nest.
- What if your dog has unearthed a ground nest? Once your dog knows something is there, he/she will continually go back to it. Try to keep your dog away from this nest. Walk him on a leash in a separate area of the yard. You may need to do this for a few weeks (bunnies are typically on their own in 4-5 weeks) until the babies are old enough to move out on their own.
- You’ve watched the nest and the mom has not come back for the babies. Mother bunnies tend to visit the nest before sun up or after sundown, so you most likely will never see her. There is a good chance that the babies are not abandoned. But if mom has not returned in 24 hours, call one of the phone numbers in step #4. For fledgling birds (see the attached picture), they are often in bushes and on the ground learning to feed themselves. Mom is likely close by so just leave them alone.
- Grafton Animal Hospital does not have the resources to rehabilitate wildlife. If we are presented with a wild animal that can be rehabilitated, we work with the Discovery Center at Newport News Park or other local rehabilitators to care for the animal and who will later release it back into the wild. To contact the Discovery Center at Newport News Park, call (757) 886-7912. You can also call the local rehab hotline for the Wildlife Response, Inc. at 757-543-7000.
- The veterinarians at Grafton Animal Hospital do work with Newport News Park and the local community to care for sick or injured wildlife. If you find an injured or sick wild animal, please give us a call at (757) 898-8433. We do ask for a $20 donation to go toward the care of this animal. We are unable to see wildlife such as raccoon, foxes, skunks and groundhogs. If you encounter any of these animals, it is best to call your local animal control.
Overall, all babies have a much better chance with their moms as survival rate in rehab is not great. There are times when an a baby animal may seem to be in danger, but nature knows best. Do your best to keep dogs and cats away from these nests to give them a chance to survive.