Although you’ve probably seen a baby animal in the springtime, you may not know it’s quite common for the parents of many mammals and birds to leave their young behind while they are out foraging. In fact, parents will often conceal their young in their nesting sites and only return periodically to feed and care for them. If you find a young animal that appears to be orphaned, it is best to leave the animal alone, unless it is facing imminent danger.
The scent of a human on or near a baby mammal will often deter a parent from returning or accepting their offspring. Human interference can also attract predators. The best thing you can do is wait from a safe distance and observe the animal until a parent returns, which could take several hours. If after several hours, neither parent has returned, contact a local rehabilitator (see below).
Learn more about how to help a baby mammal based on the situation.
It is a myth that touching a baby bird will orphan it. Although birds do not have scent glands, you should refrain from touching a baby bird. Wait from a safe distance and observe the bird until a parent returns, which could take several hours. Returning a baby bird to its nest should only be done if the animal is in imminent danger. If you cannot find the nest or reach it safely, put the baby bird in a small basket and hang it from a branch as close as possible to where you think the bird’s nest is. If a parent does not return after several hours, contact a local rehabilitator.
What you may think is an orphaned bird, may just be a bird learning how to fly. Watch from a safe distance and keep people, especially children, and companion animals away from the baby bird. It may take several hours but you may be lucky enough to witness the bird learn to fly!
Learn more about how to help a baby bird based on the situation.
An injured wild animal can be very dangerous. Therefore it is best to never approach or try to move or handle a wild animal. If you think a wild animal is injured, contact animal control via your local police department immediately. Without putting yourself in danger, try to make sure the animal is out of danger, and wait until the authorities arrive to help.
View our Emergency Resources page
View our Wildlife Rehabilitator Resources page