Late Spring in Michigan is when new life appears, whether it be plants, flowers, birds or animals. This is also the time of year when we get a number of phone calls from people who have found seemingly abandoned baby creatures. Here’s what you need to know, should you find young wildlife and want to help.
We probably get the largest number of calls about baby rabbits, usually due to a dog or cat having disturbed a rabbit’s nest. When people don’t see a mother rabbit around, they presume the babies have been abandoned. This is usually not the case. Mother rabbits do not spend a lot of time at the nest with their babies, as this might lead dogs, cats, or birds of prey to the nest. The mother usually attends to her babies twice a day, in the early morning and at dusk, otherwise, she stays hidden. If you find a baby rabbit, and it is unharmed, check the general area for the nest. If you find the nest, go ahead and put the baby back in the nest. It is a myth that the parents will reject the baby if smells like a human.
If you have found a nest, but see no sign of the mother rabbit, you can take 2 pieces of yarn and place it in the shape of an “X” over the nest in the evening. If the “X” is disturbed when you check in the morning, then mom has been back to care for the young, and just leave well enough along.
Baby bunnies are extremely hard to rehabilitate. If you have found an injured/sick baby bunny, or a nest that has no mother caring for it, the best chance for their survival is in the hands of a wildlife rehabilitator.
If you find a baby bird on the ground, but it is fully feathered and appears healthy, leave it alone. Young birds will spend 2-5 days living on the ground before they fully learn to fly. Their parents still take care of them, protect them, and teach them the life skills they need to learn to survive.
If you find a baby bird with very few feathers that you believe has fallen from it’s nest, you can attempt to put the baby back. Birds have a poor sense of smell, so should not be too bothered by your scent on the nestling.
The best rule of thumb for fawns is, if they are laying quietly trying to stay out of sight, like the one pictured below, just let them be. Mom is probably around nearby, and this is normal behavior for a fawn. If the fawn is standing up, walking around and making lots of noise, then something is wrong and help may be needed. Contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
Injured or Sick Wildlife
In the state of Michigan, it is illegal to keep wild animals without proper licensure with the state through the DNR. If you find a sick or injured wild animal, you should contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitator http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/ If you need information and can’t reach a rehabilitator, this site has great information on what to do for each specific animal, until a rehabilitator can be contacted. http://www.wildlifehotline.com/