How to Help Injured Animals
When encountering a bird or animal that appears to be abandoned, take only minimal steps to help. “People mean well but a lot of rescues we see, didn’t need help,” says Lacy Campbell, wildlife care center operations manager for the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon. Make sure the animal is away from traffic or predators, and then call a local wildlife rehabilitator before taking further action, especially if the animal is injured.
Vulnerable Little Ones
Baby squirrels can fall out of the nest. “Leave him at the base of the tree,” says Jennifer Keats Curtis, author of the children’s book Squirrel Rescue. “Mom will rebuild the nest before coming to get her baby. If it’s cold, put it in a box with a towel. Once squirrels have been treated as a pet, they can’t be released.”
Tiny, not-yet-feathered nestlings should be returned home; it’s a myth that human scent poses a problem. If the nest is out of reach or can’t be located, make one with a box and soft cloth. Put it in the tree, so the parents can resume feeding. Leave the area so as not to frighten them.
“After young robins, scrub jays, crows and owls leave the nest, they typically spend up to a week on the ground before they can fly,” says Campbell. “At night, the parents will escort the fully feathered fledglings to safety beneath a bush.”
In parks, ducks and geese may nest away from the water. Mama will lead her babies to the pond, even across busy streets. If it’s safe, stop the car to halt traffic, act as their crossing guard, and then resume driving.
A box turtle operates on innate GPS. “It lives in an area the size of a football field,” explains Curtis. “It will go onward, no matter how many times people try to redirect it. If injured by a car or lawn mower, the shell can be mended by a rehab center.”