Spring is the busiest season for orphaned animals at the Aark. Before you decide to bring an orphaned animal to the Aark, please make sure it is truly orphaned. The following are some guidelines for fawn, bunnies and baby birds:
Fawns: This time of year many fawns are unintentionally “kidnapped” by well meaning people. Fawns will lay in a circle with their legs tucked underneath, like a cat, and remain very still. They have no scent, so being quiet and still is their only defense. The mother will leave the fawn alone so she doesn’t attract predators to her baby. Occasionally a fawn will cry to let the mother know to come feed them, but unless the fawn is crying for hours upon end, it is probably not orphaned. If the fawn is in harm’s way, you can move it to safety nearby where the mother can find it. Please call the Aark first for instructions on how to do this.
Bunnies: Just because you don’t see the mother rabbit with her babies does not mean they are abandoned. The mother rabbit only nurses two times per day and stays away from the nest so she doesn’t attract predators. Baby rabbits do not have a scent and won’t attract predators except by sight or sound. If you do find a baby rabbit, look around for the nest. Return the baby if possible – the mother will not care if you have touched the baby, though handling as little as possible is best. Rabbits are one of the hardest animals to rehabilitate. Unless you are absolutely sure the mother is not caring for them, please leave them in their nest. Bunnies do not take a long period of time to become independent of their mother. If you find a bunny with its ears up and eyes open, it is most likely able to be on its own.
Baby Birds: The first thing to do if you find a baby bird out of its nest is to identify its stage of development: hatchling, nestling or fledgling. Hatchlings have little to no feathers. Nestlings have a few feathers starting to come in. Fledglings are fully feathered, but their adult wing and tail feathers need to get longer. Fledglings are the closest to being fully grown and although they cannot fly, they can hop and will be flying within a day or so. If you find a fledgling, leave it alone. It will be flying in no time. Only move it if it is directly in harms way. If you find a hatchling or nestling, look around for the nest. If possible, carefully place the bird back in the nest. Although it’s best to use a glove, it is okay to handle the bird without one. The baby’s parents will not reject the bird if you have handled it as birds have a poor sense of smell. If you cannot find the nest or if it is out of reach, carefully place the bird on a small towel in a secure container and keep the bird as warm as possible. Do NOT attempt to feed the bird. Bring the baby to us as soon as possible.
Please call the Aark for advice anytime you see any wildlife that you think may need help. We can help determine if action is warranted and give you instructions on how to proceed. Thanks!