Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Chipmunks and squirrels dash across the road, leaves dot branches, and plants pop up in the garden. It's official -- spring has arrived. Along with all the action on the street and in the yard, we might see the newest crop of furry and feathered critters. So ... what do you do if it appears a fledgling or baby rabbit has strayed too far from the nest?

Fledglings without feathers should, if possible, be placed back into their nests. If you can't reach the nest, the Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre recommends making another nest from an empty margarine container. Cut small drainage holes in the bottom, line with grass and twigs, then place as close to the real nest as possible. The adult birds will feed both nests. And don't worry about touching them as the parents have a very poor sense of smell.

Older fledglings will spend several days on the ground learning to fly. I always worry about these guys, but this is a perfectly normal part of their development. A few years ago, I found one on a busy sidewalk. I placed him on the grass, hoping he'd be out of harm's way.

Baby rabbits should be left alone. Unlike birds, rabbits have a keen sense of smell. Not wanting to draw attention to the nest, the mother will return only twice each day to feed the babies. If the rabbit is larger than a softball, it's already independent of its parent.

Most areas worldwide have wildlife rehabilitation organizations that will answer questions or take in injured or abandoned animals. If you're searching for one near you, check out this site: Wildlife Rehabilitator Locator


jan said...

We have an incredible Wildlife Sanctuary nearby. They will take in anything and volunteer vets will try to rehabilitate them so they can live again in the wild.

Georgie said...

I think the most fascinating are the little baby squirrels in my area, that come down from the nest -- and right up to you if they see you have some "snacks" to share with them.

Squirrels can see behind them (as well as overhead and underneath) without turning their heads. In addition, the babies are fearless as long as they see food -- and can spot a cheerful food donor a mile away. And, when a not-so-cheerful dog comes along -- back up into the spruce trees they go, in a flash.

Poor dogs. They never win. : )

You're right, Lynn. This is a truly "special" time of year.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Good to hear, Jan. The Wildlife Rehabilitator Locator link gives many more locations, both domestic and international.

Lynn Sinclair said...

I haven't seen many baby squirrels, Georgie. I guess they don't venture far from the nests in our area (too many dogs perhaps).

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