Found an Animal?

It seems that out of the kindness of people's hearts there is this irresistible first response and need to feed compromised baby wild animals when they are found. Yes they are helpless, and yes they need help, but all too often feeding them is something that can do more harm than good. The baby may be injured and may not have a swallow reflex. Even if it does swallow it may not be able metabolize the food you are feeding it. That spells big trouble and often those animals end up dying a few days later as a direct result. Please don't feed compromised wildlife and call your local wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.  

I Have Found A Bird

I found a Baby Bird. What do I do?

Make sure the baby is truly orphaned.

  • Is it injured?
  • Is it cold?
  • Is it dehydrated?
    • Does its abdomen appear overly wrinkled or paperish-white?
    • Does its abdomen and eyes appear sunken-in?
  • Is it lethargic, inactive, or uninterested in its surroundings?
  • Was it handled by a dog or cat/did you find it near a dog or cat?
  • Are there dead siblings/parents near-by?
  • Is it a naked or partially feathered baby bird?
  • Are there flies around the baby?
  • Is it in imminent danger?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, take the following steps:

  • Place the baby in a softly-lined covered box with ventilation.
  • Place the box in a warm, dark quiet indoor location away from all humans and pets.
  • If you have a heating pad, put the container with the bird on the edge of the heating pad and turn it on low. You may need to add layers of facial tissues in the container to get a gentle heat effect. Too much heat is as bad as not enough. In a pinch a pop bottle or water bottle with hot water can also be used and wrapped in a t-shirt material and put in with the baby. Do not use towels for bedding. The weave is too loose. It comes undone easily and the threads can wrap around legs, wings and necks with dire consequences.
  • Do Not attempt to give it food or water, no matter how much it begs! The baby may appear hungry, but feeding a weakened animal or providing the wrong diet could cause irreversible complications that could further compromise the baby's condition.
  • Contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately for instructions.

Specific Guidelines

Nestlings

Nestlings - are naked or downy, don't yet have all their proper feathers and should still be in the nest. If they are found out of the nest, try to locate the nest and put them back. If the whole nest comes down, try to put it back up or rig up something as near as possible to the original location. Watch from a distance to see if the parents return to feed the youngsters. If this isn't possible, put the bird(s) in a small box with some bathroom tissue in the bottom and some small air holes in the sides. Cover the box and put in a warm (not hot), quiet place. Get them to Salthaven as soon as possible.

Fledglings

Fledglings - have proper feathers, can perch and may even be able to flutter short distances. These youngsters often leave the nest and sit on branches nearby, waiting for their parents to return with food. Unless they are in immediate danger, they should be left and observed from a distance. The parents usually come back within a short time. Keep cats away from the fledglings.

 Waterfowl… Ducklings and Goslings

Ducklings - Ducklings, Goslings - Young water birds can't survive on their own until they are well feathered. If a duckling is found alone, look for the parent bird and other youngsters and try to reunite them. If the youngster is calling, the parent may return for it if there are no people in the immediate area. If this doesn't work, the duckling should be put in a box in the same way as described for songbird nestlings. Do NOT put baby ducklings in water.

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey - Even young birds of prey can be difficult to handle, so take care. If the youngster is a nestling it should be returned to the nest if at all possible, but lookout for the parent birds! In some species, fledglings may sit on the ground and be fed by the parents for a few days, so don't immediately rush to the rescue. Please give us a call before you try to do anything on your own. These birds should be handled only by experienced handlers to avoid injury to the bird or to yourself. Call Salthaven for assistance.

I Have Found A Mammal

I Found a Baby Bunny, Raccoon, or Squirrel. What do I do?

Make sure the baby is truly orphaned.

  • Is it injured?
  • Is it cold?
  • Is it dehydrated?
    • Does its abdomen and eyes appear sunken-in?
  • Is it lethargic, inactive, or uninterested in its surroundings?
  • Was it handled by a dog or cat/did you find it near a dog or cat?
  • Are there dead siblings/parents near-by?
  • Are there flies around the baby?
  • Is it in imminent danger?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, take the following steps:

  • Place the baby in a softly-lined covered box with ventilation.
  • Place the box in a warm, dark quiet indoor location away from all humans and pets.
  • If you have a heating pad, put it under one half the container that has the animal in it and turn it on low. In a pinch a pop bottle or water bottle with hot water can also be used and wrapped in a t-shirt material and put in with the baby. Do not use towels for bedding. The weave is too loose. It comes undone easily and the threads can wrap around legs, and necks with dire consequences.
  • Do Not attempt to give it food or water! The baby may appear hungry, but feeding a weakened animal or providing the wrong diet will cause irreversible complications that will further compromise the baby's condition.
  • Contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.

If you answered no to all of these questions, or if you are unsure:

  • Contact a local Wildlife Rehabilitator for instructions on attempting to renest or reunite the baby with it's parents.

Specific Guidelines

Baby Cottontails

In Ontario Canada, baby bunnies that are larger than a hardball are already independent of their mother. They should be returned to a spot close to where they were found with dense foliage in which they can hide. Keep all pets and other activities away from this area. Smaller babies should be returned to their nest. You will likely never see the mother; she usually only feeds them between dusk and dawn to avoid attracting predators.

The "nest" will look like a shallow depression sparsely lined with the mother's belly fur and dry grasses. It is usually located in high grasses, under bushes, or in flower beds. Return the babies to the nest and lightly cover them with the existing nest material. They will usually stay put if they feel adequately hidden.

If you need to mow or work near an active bunny nest, consider covering the nest with a laundry basket to prevent causing injury to the babies or having the babies "bolt" in fear.

Deer Fawns

Deer Fawns - In Southwestern Ontario most fawns are born in the latter part of May. For the first 2 weeks or so, fawns are often left on their own for 6-12 hours while their mother goes off to feed. They should stay quietly curled up in the grass until she returns. A fawn doing this should be left undisturbed. If the fawn is wandering around and vocalizing it may be hungry because its mother has failed to return. Watch from a safe distance (with binoculars), or leave and return in 6 hours to see if the fawn is still around. If it is, give us a call. Do not handle the fawn and do not attempt to feed it. One of the biggest mistakes people make who find fawns is feeding it cows milk. Mom will likely come back to collect her fawn when everything is quiet and there is nobody around.