Spring is in the air! Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees springing to life, birds singing and our wild neighbors all giving birth at once! No, not the family next door, the ones in the trees, under your porch or hidden in your lawn. As our towns and counties continue to develop we make it more difficult for the first inhabitants to live and go about their business.
More and more of Mother Nature’s young are ending up on the road, in our dog’s or cat’s mouths, or found on the ground after a storm. Some are more appealing than others but all serve a purpose in keeping our lives balanced. For that reason and for the simple act of compassion, here are a few things to keep in mind.
▪ Babies from the woods, lawns and under wood piles and porches are wild. They are not our puppies and kittens and do not react like their domestic cousins. If you find one, first look around to see if it can be returned to a nest. Despite what you have heard, most mothers are all the same and they want their babies back, so a wildlife rehabber can help you return most babies back where they belong. If that’s not possible, pick it up gently with gloves or a towel and place it in box, keep it dark, quiet, warm and most importantly, DO NOT DISTURB! Please do not allow children to come into contact with any wild creature.
▪ Telephone numbers and web sites are listed below for you to contact someone for help.
▪ Wild babies do not drink cow’s milk like human babies and in most cases this will just hasten their death. Do not try to feed these critters. Call someone who has the right foods to offer them a chance at life. Baby birds do not have access to liquids in the nest and get moisture from the food the parents provide. Hydrating a baby bird is NOT good. When was the last time you saw a mother bird carrying a bucket of milk or water to the nest?
▪ Do not let children touch or pat any wild baby. “YOU SAID THAT IN #1.” Yes, and I’m saying it again because if old enough the wild babies can bite and many will go into shock with just a single touch. Bunnies are the most sensitive and can literally die in your hand just from being picked up and patted.
Hopefully in weeks to come we can talk about specific wildlife in our area, but for now if you find any native North American mammals or birds in need of help, act quickly in getting it into the care of a wildlife rehabilitator. The N.C. Wildlife Commission can provide names and contact information for rehabbers near you or you can go online to www.wildlifewelfare.org or call the hotline (919-387-1662). County residents can also call me at Our Wild Neighbors for immediate assistance at 919-428-0896.
These creatures are already in trouble if they wind up in human hands so please don’t delay in seeking help. Proper housing, food and care can return them to Mother Nature as was intended all along.
Linda Ostrand has been a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator for more than 25 years. She can be reached at 919-428-0896.