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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
10:30 AM Thu, Dec. 13th

Column: What to do when you find a baby bird

In the May-June 2011 edition of the Arizona Wildlife Views magazine published by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, there is an excellent article titled "Giving Back to Wildlife." I particularly appreciated the information in the sidebar titled "Leave Baby Wildlife Alone."

Each spring we receive numerous phone calls here at Jay's Bird Barn from folks who have "rescued" a baby wild bird. Now that they have the bird in their possession, they are wondering what to do with it. If only they had called and sought out our advice before they had captured the baby bird!

Amanda Williams, author of the Arizona Wildlife article, writes, "When you see baby wildlife that appears orphaned, leave it alone. Most of the time the human desire to help or 'rescue' baby, orphaned, or injured wildlife can have unintended consequences for the animal, including death."

It might sound like a paradox that one of the ways you can give back to wildlife is to do nothing. I suppose it even sounds harsh to leave baby birds alone, but that truly is the best course to take. Their chances for survival are much higher when left in their natural environment instead of removing them from nature and bringing them into captivity.

Williams writes, "Baby birds (fledglings) without fully developed flight feathers often are seen fluttering from branch to branch, or from the ground to low branches. Leaving the nest to practice flying is a natural part of a baby bird's development." Our good intentions to rescue baby birds is not in their best interest.

When I was young, I was not of this persuasion. As a young boy I "rescued" my share of baby birds. Fortunately, I was successful in raising several to maturity. However, more often than not, my efforts were unsuccessful, which was very upsetting emotionally.

As I have grown older (and wiser), I have developed the personal philosophy of leaving wildlife alone and letting nature run its course. You might wonder how someone who loves birds so much can adopt the attitude of doing nothing, but I have gotten to that point.

Unless you are properly trained and licensed, it is best to not interfere with Mother Nature. It is not easy to care for injured and orphaned birds. Caring for baby birds can be very demanding, as they have to eat so frequently. And, if you don't know what kind of bird you are raising, you might not be feeding it the proper diet. It is best to turn the care of wild animals over to someone who has been trained to provide the best possible care.

We are fortunate to have in the Prescott area several licensed bird rehabilitators who have the legal right to keep in their possession wild animals, be they birds or mammals. These trained professionals provide this service at their own expense. They lovingly care for a variety of animals that need constant care before they can be released back into the wild.

If you find yourself in possession of a wild animal and you don't know what to do with it, please give us a call at the store and we can refer you to an Arizona Game and Fish approved rehabilitator in our area.

Until next week, happy birding.