Archive for November, 2013

Bunny and Squirrel Rescue Basics – a Brief How To…

This is part of the series that started with Doves 101.  In this post we share the truths and myths of bunny rescue.

Contrary to popular belief, touching a baby bunny will not make the parents reject it.  Stress usually will drive the mother off when curious people poke around the nest site too often.  If you find a nest of baby cottontails, do not kidnap them just because you don’t see the mother around.  The mother cottontail only comes to the nest twice a day to feed the babies (early in the morning and again at disk).  If you want to find out if the mother is still coming to the nest site, place two crossed strings over the nest, then return later to see if the stings were disturbed.  If the strings remain in tact, then the mother has not returned and the babies should be rescued.

There are two types of wild rabbit in the Phoenix area:  jackrabbits (which are actually hares) and cottontails.  Jackrabbits are born with their eyes open, fully furred and able to run.  Cottontails are born naked, blind and helpless.

Never force food or water down a bunny or squirrel’s throat, especially if the animal is cold or dehydrated.  It is easy to aspirate an animal if fluid gets into the lungs.  The wrong food can cause bloating, illness and death.  Never use sugar or Karo syrup which can cause bacterial growth.  An experienced rehabber will provide the animal with specialized food and fluids based on the species and requirements.  Never feed any small wild mammal cow’s milk!  or human baby formula!

Each Spring East Valley Wildlife has a special program, called Get Stuffed!  We encourage people to fill their Easter baskets with stuffed toys…not with live animals.  That baby bunny that is so cute in the pet store will require many years of proper diet, vet care and housing.  It is not a toy and can never be released into the wild.  Releasing a tame pet is  a death sentence to the animal.  The et bunny does not have the skills to survive on its own and will not be accepted by wild animals of its own species.

If you find an injured bunny contact East Valley Wildlife.  We have knowledgeable volunteers who can help.  Check out our website for more information about bunnies and squirrel rescue.

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If You Love It…Let It Go

Often the public wants to help out by raising the baby bird they have rescued.  As tempting as this might be, an orphaned bird’s best chances of survival are with a rehabilitator.  A rehabilitator has been trained to provide the appropriate diet (at all stages of the bird’s development) and the proper care and housing. There are also legal considerations to raising wildlife – most wild birds are protected species, which means that a person is required to have a permit to keep, raise and rehabilitate the bird. The main pitfalls of trying to raise a baby wild bird (or an injured bird) are trying to do it without the proper training.  Injured birds require even more intensive care and certain species, like hummingbirds, need constant care and a highly specialized diet. The five major aspects of wildlife rehabilitation are Diet, Housing, Sunlight, Imprinting and Release.

In another posting we will cover in detail each of these five requirements.  Remember, it is never a good idea to try to raise any wild animal without the proper training and one of the main reasons for not keeping and raising a wild bird is imprinting.  A tame bird that is released into the wild will not survive.  It does not have the necessary skills to fend for itself.  A trained rehabilitator offers the best opportunity for a bird’s future survival in the wild.

If you want to learn how to raise baby birds, consider becoming an East Valley Wildlife volunteer.  We will be happy to teach you.  Visit our website for more information, baby bird identification and articles.

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Birds of a Feather…Often Have Problems

Captive birds incur damage when tail and wing feathers continually brush against the sides of wire caging or the wall of too-small enclosures. A bird’s survival can depend on the condition of its feathers. Broken feathers with ragged edges will impair the ability to survive when the bird is released. Birds in rehab need an environment that is comfortable, offers enough space with several different branch sizes, plus places to hide. (Yes, birds like privacy also!) A balanced diet that closely matches the bird’s natural one is most important for proper feather development. If a bird with damaged feathers is released, he likely will need to be rescued again. Damaged feathers diminish his ability to fend for himself in the wild and escape from predators. Good feathering is necessary for flight, for insulation and for waterproofing. Some feathering problems that we see on rescued birds include: White feathering – feathers that are unnaturally white in areas where they would normally have color. This may be due to a genetic albinism. However, it is more likely that white feathers are a result of a nutritional deficiency. White feathers are not as strong as “normal” ones and the shafts can easily break. Stress Marks – feathers that have a definite mark across one area indicate the extreme stress of a nutritional deficiency has occurred at a certain point in the feather development. The feathers across one area of the tail, wings or body may have a serrated appearance due to stress. Lack of waterproofing is another problem that occurs in captive birds – this may be due to nutritional problems or an injury the prevents the bird from normal preening.
This article appeared in Bird Tracks 2010 edition and was written by Nancy.

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