Do not remove infant or orphaned animals from their nest unless you are SURE that they are truly injured or orphaned. To help you be sure, check the information below or call us!
If you have rescued an injured or orphaned animal, place it in a covered box but do not feed it anything unless advised to do so by a wildlife custodian. There might be an injury that could be worsened by eating. You may place a shallow dish of water in the box but nothing deep, as an injured animal can drown easily.
When bringing rescued animals to Procyon Wildlife or a designated drop spot, do not travel with your pets or a loud radio in the car. The trip will be difficult enough for the animal without any added stressors.
If you are rescuing an injured or orphaned rabbit, do not pet it. Rabbits may appear to be calm and enjoying the attention but they are actually terrified! Rabbits are high-stress animals and this extra attention can cause them to have heart failure. Put them into a dark and quiet place, away from the smells and sounds of your own pets. It is imperative that young rabbits are left alone unless there is obvious abandonment or injury.
People often encounter nests of baby rabbits when raking or mowing their lawn. Eastern Cottontails commonly nest in urban areas, in a shallow depression in the ground, lined with fur. If the nest has not been damaged, or the babies are not injured, leave them alone.
People are often concerned because they have not seen a parent anywhere near the nest. This is normal. Mothers only feed their babies twice a day, usually at dawn and dusk. She will stay away from the nest the rest of the time so as not to attract predators (newborns do not have scent and are quite safe from predators).
It is important that you do not touch the babies. Unlike birds, mammals can smell human scent. If you are not convinced that a parent is around, you can place two pieces of wool in a crisscross over the top of the nest. If the wool is undisturbed the next morning, the babies were not fed during the night. This should only be done if you have a strong reason (dead adult nearby) to suspect that the babies are not being fed. A healthy infant rabbit’s chances of survival are greatly reduced if introduced into captivity. They are easily stressed and often won’t eat when taken into care. If babies are indeed alone and unfed, carefully place the whole nest in a small, covered box and bring to a rehabilitation centre. Do not pet them! You may actually scare them to death. Also, do not feed them – especially cow’s milk!
Baby rabbits are fully furred within a week and their eyes are starting to open. They are weaned and independent when they are three to four weeks of age (only the size of a softball!)
Raccoons are cute, cuddly and highly intelligent. However, they can also be unintentionally deadly. A large percentage of raccoons carry a roundworm (Baylisascaris) that is shed through their feces. If any of these microscopic eggs are transferred and accidentally ingested, they can cause death in other animals and in humans. It is imperative that raccoons be cared for in an isolated environment.
If you find abandoned babies, as with all other species, please make sure they really are abandoned or at risk before you attempt a rescue.
If you find a baby squirrel with unopened eyes, put it in a warm cloth or sock and place in a small box. Squirrels this young are not normally out of their nest at all. If you find such a tiny squirrel, call or bring it to a rehab centre right away.
If you find a baby squirrel that has opened eyes but appears to be abandoned, leave it alone and watch it for a few hours. Usually, the mother is not far away. If the baby is truly abandoned, place in a covered box and bring it to a rehab centre.
If you find an injured squirrel, carefully place it in a lined, small box without food or water and call us. We will either direct you to a vet or request that the animal be brought to the centre.
Coyotes, Bear, Cougar
Please call the Ministry of Natural Resources.;
Have you found a fawn? Is it actually orphaned? Fawns feed only at dusk and dawn when the mother returns. If the fawn is lying quietly, it is probably not orphaned. If the fawn is crying and wandering, it might need your assistance. Go to this link, record the audio and play the attached fawn distress call, which may attract either the mother or another doe which may adopt the fawn if it has lost her own baby or has a fawn close to the same age.
If you find an injured fawn or adult, cover its head with a blanket or jacket to help limit stress. Then call us.
Birds That Have Hit a Window
Each year during spring and fall migration, birds suffer injuries due to window collisions.
If you find a bird that has hit a window, place it in a small box with a non-fraying towel at the bottom and air holes poked from the inside-out. Do not place in any food or water as they may drown. Place the box in a warm, quiet, dark area for a couple of hours and then put the box outside and take the lid off. Often the bird will fly away immediately. However, if it does not attempt to fly, or cannot fly far, it should be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation centre right away. If the bird hit the window with enough force, it may have massive internal injuries and will not survive the trauma.
To prevent window strikes from occurring there are several things you can do: put decorative decals on your windows or install windsocks or wind chimes in your garden.
Nestling Birds Without Feathers
On windy days through spring and summer, nestling birds (pink, with minimal feather development) can easily fall from their nest. These babies should be placed back in the nest if possible. Look up into the nearest tree as these helpless birds will not have traveled far. If the nest is too high up, a substitute nest can be constructed out of a margarine container with holes in the bottom for drainage. Line it with twigs and grass and place it as close to the original nest as possible. Parent birds will feed from two nests. Don’t be concerned if you touch the infant birds as their parents have a very poor sense of smell. The nest should be monitored and if the infant is pushed out again, this could indicate intentional brood reduction. If the babies are pushed out more than twice they should be brought to a rehabilitation centre immediately.
Nestlings are very difficult to raise in captivity, as they must be fed every fifteen minutes during daylight hours. They may develop deformities or feather abnormalities if they are not fed this regularly. It is important to remember that the babies will have a much better chance for survival if they are left with their parents.
Fledgling Birds With Feathers That Can’t Fly
Before young feathered birds can actually fly, they jump out of the nest and spend a few days on the ground. These fledglings look like their adult counterparts, but with shorter tails. This is the time when they learn to forage and fly. They will practice their takeoffs from the ground and are often mistaken as adult birds with wing injuries because of their failed attempts.
Please be assured that this is a perfectly normal stage of development. A fledgling only needs help if there is visible sign of injury (a droopy wing, blood, problems standing). Also be aware that the parents are always in the area and will swoop down approximately once an hour with some food. This is a very quick exchange and you would likely need to watch carefully, without looking away, for several hours to be convinced that this bird has been orphaned.
We understand that you are concerned with the dangerous environment that the fledgling is in when on the ground (cars, dogs and cats in the area) but these birds have a better chance of surviving and living a normal life in the wild if they are reared by their parents, even with all the neighborhood dangers. Humans cannot teach these birds how to sing or recognize an alarm call – only their parents can do that. If you want to help these birds, keep your pets indoors or leashed and encourage others to do the same, at least through this fledgling period.
If you find a single or several ducklings that appear to be without their mother, place them in an open box with a shallow pan of water. Leave the box in a safe place in the area that you found them. If Mom does not return to her babies within two hours, bring them to a rehabilitation centre.
Birds of Prey- Owls, Hawks, etc.
These birds can be very dangerous as they have sharp beaks and talons. Do not handle without gloves. Please call us for assistance before attempting to rescue these birds.