Please do not feed or attempt to care for an abandoned baby animal. Baby animals have a very specialized diet and feeding them the wrong thing can cause a significant amount of harm to the baby. In addition to having a very specialized diet, many species require extremely specialized care. If they do not receive that specialized care, the animal can die.
Some baby birds that appear to be abandoned but are not actually abandoned. Baby birds have different stages of development. The first stage is a newly hatched baby bird with little to no feathers, which is referred to as a nestling. If a nestling is found on the ground, they need assistance. If you are able to place the bird in the nest it fell from, that is the best course of action. If the nest has fallen from the tree as well as the baby bird, both can be placed back into the tree. It is also possible to make a nest to secure to the tree for the baby bird. It is not true that the mother bird will reject the baby if a human touches it. If you are unsure if the parents are still in the area, you can observe them from a distance.
Here are some helpful links on how to replace a nest that has been destroyed during its fall.
Another stage of the baby birds life is what is referred to as a fledgling. At this stage the bird is learning to fly and does so from the ground. If the baby bird is mostly feathered, and is hoping on the ground, it is most likely a fledgling. If you observe from a distance you will see an adult bird coming down to care and feed the fledgling. Fledglings should be left with their parents where they do better than in a rehabilitation center. If you believe the bird is in danger, or if it is near a road or on a sidewalk, the bird can be moved to a safer area very nearby. If you believe the baby is sick, injured or you have not seen an adult tending to it, please call 202-723-5730.
Baby rabbits are often mistaken for being orphaned, because the babies are kept in a shallow nest while mom leaves them to feed during the day. A baby bunny that is the size of a tennis ball or larger is big enough to be on its own. A rabbit smaller than a tennis ball should be in the nest, which is a depression in the ground covered in dried grass or leaves.
If you are unsure whether the mother has abandoned the nest you can take regular flour and make a circle around the area to look for footprints the following morning. If you do not see footprints you can observe the baby bunnies to see if their bellies appear full. Sometimes mom will jump over the flour to avoid stepping on the flour which leaves no indication she was there. If the babies bellies appear full and the babies are warm to the touch, the babies can be left in the nest and a larger flour circle can be added around the nest. As long as the babies appear full and are warm, the babies are more than likely being cared for by their mother. If the bunnies are cold, covered in ants or flies, lethargic or limp, has a sunken belly, or has wrinkly skin, all the babies located in the nest should be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitation center. Please call 202-723-5730 or contact City Wildlife.
If you found a baby squirrel on the ground, depending on his size he may have fallen from the nest. Mom will bring the baby back to the nest but not if he or she feels cold to the touch. You can warm the baby up by taking a cotton sock and filling it with dry uncooked rice, then tying a knot in the end of the sock. Place the sock in a microwave for 30 seconds and then put the warm sock in a box with the baby squirrel. Once the baby squirrel is warm to the touch you can try placing the baby at the base of the tree that the nest is in. Give mom some time and space to retrieve the baby. Baby squirrel sounds can also be played through youtube to grab mom’s attention. If mom is nowhere to be found, or she fails to retrieve the baby after an hour of trying the squirrel should be taken to our shelter or to City Wildlife. Please call us at 202-723-5730.
Fawns or baby deer can be identified by their white spots. Fawns are oftentimes mistaken for being abandoned, when they are being taken care of by their mothers. During the spring months when deer are having their babies, the mom will leave the fawn in the same spot all day while she grazes until dusk, when she returns to her baby. Some of the places mom chooses to leave the baby may not appear to be safe to you, but mom felt it would be a secure place for her baby to wait for her return. It is best to not disturb the baby and to not draw attention to the fawn. Their only defense is to stay as still as possible, they also have very little to no scent. Touching the fawn transfers your scent to the baby which could attract other animals to the baby’s location.
If the fawn appears to be sick or injured, so not attempt to handle the animal. Instead please call us at 202-723-5730.
Some signs that a baby deer is in need of assistance:
Raccoons can have two litters a year with kits (baby raccoons) staying with mom for up to a year, but exploring on their own by three months. Some signs to look for to determine whether the baby may need assistance:
Call us if you see a baby fox or kit that is:
If a wild animal is in need, danger or you believe it is rabid, immediately call us at 202-723-5730.
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