Baby season is upon us and many of you may be fortunate enough to see some of the newest arrivals. This can be an incredible experience if the circumstances are right. Here are some tips to coexisting with wildlife during this baby season.
Fawns: unless visibly injured or mother is confirmed deceased, please leave them where they lay. Deer are crepuscular animals meaning they are most active at dawn and at dusk. During the day it is not uncommon to see a fawn alone. This is because mom has left her baby somewhere she feels is safe to hide while she herself goes off to forage. The idea is that these sent-less fawns will hide in tall grasses safe from predators. Mom will return only a few times a day to feed baby and move to a new safe place.
It truly is like a game of hide and go seek!
Baby is to stay hidden and mom will come back to find them. If you happen to find a baby in an unusual location, like the side of the road for example, chances are something frightened the pair and baby instinctually tried to “hide” by laying down and staying perfectly still. Please call a wildlife rehabilitator at this point to discuss next best steps. Chances are, moving baby just off to the side of the road will keep baby safe and sound until mom feels it’s safe to rerun.
Birds: most baby birds spend a period of 3-10 days on the ground, out of the nest and unable to get fly. This is a totally normal part of their life cycle, however this can seem very curious and possibly concerning to the untrained eye. These birds are called fledglings and fledglings tend to look like adults but still act like babies. This can be mistaken for head injury, broken wings and illness by the general public. Please call your local wildlife rehabilitator and send pictures if possible to help determine if this behaviour is normal for the age and species of the bird you are seeing.
Please DO NOT offer food, fledgling birds are growing babies and have specific dietary needs. Their parents will also be unlikely to return if you are too close to their baby. If you are concerned, please watch from a distance and see if parents are returning to feed it. Remember also that during this stage baby birds are unable to fly to escape your pets. Keeping dogs and cats on leash/inside while baby learns to fly is recommended.
Seals: seal pups can often look abandoned because of their natural feeding behaviours. Mom seals will leave their babies on a safe rock, beach or deck while they go off to forage for themselves. They will return to occasionally nurse briefly only when they feel it is safe to do so. If you or your pets are nearby, mom will not return. Please watch from a distance and keep pets on leash and away from seals.
Rabbits: it is not uncommon for people to come across a rabbit nest while out mowing the lawn or walking through a field. Rabbits, like deer are also crepuscular meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Mother rabbits will leave their young safely tucked in their nest for hours at a time before returning to feed them.
If you are concerned that the nest was disturbed or that mother may not be returning, you can try the “string test”. The string test is simply placing a string or shoe lace gently across the nest in a cross cross or X formation and leaving the area. Return only after one dusk or dawn cycle in order to give mom a chance to come back. If the strings have been moved, you can assume mom has returned. If the strings are exactly how you placed them, it is time to call a wildlife rehabilitator.
Baby season can be a really rewarding time for wildlife watchers. It can also be a very vulnerable time for the youngsters. Using these tips will help us better coexist with our wild neighbours. For more information contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org of visit our website: www.wildwisesooke.com
Samantha Webb, BSc, RVT, WR
Wild Wise Community Coordinator
BE WILD WISE
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