Have you ever found a baby bird in your yard and wondered what to do with it? Or perhaps you rescued a cottontail rabbit that ended up in your pool and you don’t know what to do next. We live among an abundance of urban wildlife and you will likely someday find an orphaned or injured animal that needs your help. Fortunately there are many wildlife rehabilitators in the Valley that will take over the care of these precious creatures. We can also offer some tips of what to do when you find a wild animal.
Springtime is nesting and hatching time for birds. When the young ones start to learn to fly you may find one on the ground. Resist the urge to pick it up unless it is in immediate danger from traffic or injury from other animals. Be patient and watch from a distance. Chances are the adult or parent bird is nearby encouraging the youngster and bringing food to it. Other times baby birds may fall out of nests or be blown out of nests during storms. If you can find the nest, you should replace the baby into the nest. Don’t worry about leaving your scent on the baby bird; most birds do not have a keen sense of smell, and the parents will accept the baby when they are reunited. Please seehttp://www.eastvalleywildlife.org/FoundABaby.htm
Mammals are also having babies throughout the spring and summer. Many of us enjoy watching the rabbits or ground squirrels play and eat in our yards or green belts. And occasionally people will stumble across a nest or den of babies while doing landscaping. Try not to disturb the nest. Mom is nearby and she will be back to care for the litter. Rabbit babies in particular are often needlessly removed from their dens because people think they are abandoned. In reality, cottontail rabbit mothers only visit the nest once or twice a day to nurse the babies, and they stay only a few minutes. Unless you are watching 24 hours a day, you probably won’t see the mother tend to the young ones.
Warm weather also wakes up the reptiles that have been hibernating all winter. It is not uncommon to find desert tortoises and snakes wandering our neighborhoods this time of year. Tortoises, in particular, can get injured by cars and dogs since they move so slowly.
Injured or truly orphaned animals do require your help. Wild animals NEVER make good pets. They all have very specific nutritional requirements, and most will never become accustomed to handling or captivity. The best plan of action is to recover the animal and get it into the hands of someone who has experience in feeding, rehabilitating, and releasing them into as safe an environment as possible. Some veterinarians and veterinary emergency clinics will accept injured animals and perform necessary medical care until a rehabilitator can be contacted. Please call your veterinarian or one of the wildlife rescue groups to find out where to take an animal needing attention. And remember that rescue groups are mostly volunteer and non-profit organizations; help them out with your donations.
Here are some contact numbers and informational websites. Leave messages including your contact number so volunteers can return your call.
- East Valley Wildlife http://www.eastvalleywildlife.org/index.htm 480-899-1513
- Southwest Wildlife www.southwestwildlife.org 480-471-9109
- Liberty Wildlife 480 998-5550
- Arizona Covey Quail Rescue 602-996-1934
- Arizona Game and Fish Dept. http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_rehab_relo.shtml
- Phoenix Herpetological Society http://www.phoenixherp.com/