Tips to handling orphaned or wounded baby wildlife

I was thrilled when winter was officially over and the days started to get warmer, as I love the sun. It’s exciting to see the cycle of life as trees turn green, flowers bloom and new wildlife is born. This also is the time when Nevada Humane Society’s Animal Help Desk is flooded with calls regarding orphaned or injured baby birds and baby bunnies.

Sadly, because of serious budget cuts, the Nevada Department of Wildlife no longer offers services to assist individuals seeking help with orphaned wildlife. Here are some tips that will help you do what’s best for them.

» If you find a baby bird or baby bunny, the very first thing to determine is if the animal is truly in need of help or should be left alone or placed back into its nest. Is the baby animal bleeding, shivering, vomiting or was it attacked by another animal?

If the answer is no, you should try to locate and place the baby back inside the nest and watch for the mother to see if she returns. You need to stay completely out of sight; mothers won’t return if any people or pets are present. Keep in mind that mothers might be away for hours at a time but usually return at dawn and dusk.

A baby bunny that is about four to five inches long, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, does not need help. They are able to survive on their own and should be left alone.

If you find a baby bird, look to see if the bird is feathered. If it is, then it’s a fledgling, and it is normal behavior for them to be hopping on the ground with the parents still feed them. If the bird is not feathered yet, it is most likely a nestling and will require some help. Again, the best thing is to find the nest.

If you cannot locate the nest, make a substitute one by poking holes in the bottom of a margarine tub, line with dry grass or pine needles, and hang from original or nearby tree. The parents will hear their young and find them.

Please remember: A baby bird’s or rabbit’s best chance for survival is its parents.

For more information, please contact the Nevada Humane Society’s Animal Help Desk at or 775-856-2000, ext. 200.


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