Spring babies

I have found a bird on the ground, what do I do?

Fledglings (young birds that have grown all or most of their feathers) leave the nest for a few main reasons. The first being over crowding; if there is more than one baby, the nest can get very tight for space. The second main reason is that the baby is practicing to fly and strengthening its wing muscles. Once the fledglings are on the ground, they may be unable to get back into the nest, as they are not strong enough. Their parents will often continue to feed them however while they are on the ground.

If you find a young bird on the road, or somewhere very exposed and it is uninjured, place it somewhere nearby where there is cover. Don’t worry, the parent birds will hear it calling so they will find it.

Will the parent birds care for the bird?

Fledglings are fed by their parents, so they are never far away, probably collecting food. If they see you close by they will not return until you have gone. Go away for at least two hours, when you return you will almost certainly find that the parents have taken care of their youngster.

Can I handle the bird?

There is an ‘old wives tale’ that if you handle a baby bird, the parents will pick up the human scent and abandon the chick. This is not correct. If you have picked up a chick, put it back or nearby where you found it and the parents will provide the care it needs.

If you notice the chick has not been supported by its parents, or has been on the ground for more than one day, please contact the RSPCA for more information or take it to your local vet.

Should I try and put the bird back in the nest?

If you find an unfeathered bird that has fallen out of the nest, you could try to find the nest and put it back carefully. If you are unable to find the nest, or it is too high up, please contact the RSPCA for advice.

I believe the bird is injured or sick, what do I do?

If you think the young bird is genuinely orphaned or it is clearly sick, put it in a box, keep it warm and contact the RSPCA for advice.

My cat/dog caught a bird, what should I do?

The saliva in the mouths of dogs and cats is toxic to other animals. It takes only a short while for toxicity to set in and it is imperative that a veterinarian sees the injured bird as soon as possible. If vets are not available then try to arrange to get the bird to an animal emergency centre. You should also look into ensuring that your pet has no opportunity to re-offend. Keep dogs and cats confined during dusk, dawn and dark hours.

A bird just flew into my window, what should I do?

A bird might be concussed after flying into a window. Put the bird in a box and keep it warm, dark and quiet. In a few hours you can release it outside. If it does not fly away then contact the RSPCA for advice.

A bird is swooping, what do I do?

Spring brings out the maternal instinct in most animals and unfortunately some birds swoop to protect their territory. The swooping action is the parent birds defending and protecting their young.

Other than wearing a protective hat or carrying an umbrella, there isn’t much you can do. In order to reduce the stress on the parent birds, cross the street to remove yourself from their territory, or change your walking route.

I have a snake in my backyard, what do I do?

Do not approach the snake. Contact the RSPCA immediately for advice or phone your local snake catcher.

The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls every spring regarding ducks and ducklings that have been found walking down the street or in a backyard.

A mother duck has hatched eggs in our backyard, what should I do?

Ducks are protected by law and it is best to allow the duck to wander around the yard until it has eaten all the slugs and snails and allow it to wander into the next yard when it is ready to do so.

If you have a pool in your yard it would be advisable to supply a ramp for the ducklings, who will be able to get in, but not always out, placing them at high risk drowning.

In the case where a duck is in imminent danger then re-location could be an option. However, some species will not tolerate this and will fly away leaving their ducklings behind. As a last resort, catch the mother duck first, and then gather up the chicks. Release the family in the nearest large garden which has some water such as a pond or lake.

A baby possum is in my garden, what do I do?

Place the possum in a dark, quiet area out of the way of dogs or cats that can attack it. If you have a hot water bottle place this under a folded towel and place the possum in a pillow case. If you don’t have a hot water bottle, a plastic bottle filled with warm water will do. Make sure it isn’t too hot. Allow room for the possum to move off the heat if necessary. Do not feed it and contact the RSPCA for advice.

I have an injured possum on the road/in the gutter/in my garden, what do I do?

This possum needs urgent veterinary attention. Wrap a towel around the possum and scoop it up into a waiting container such as a box or cat carrier (ensuing it has airholes). If this is not possible then contact the RSPCA for advice.

I have a possum in my roof, what can I do?

Possums often take up residence in ceiling cavities as they find this spot warm in winter and cool in summer. A lot of people do not like to have possums living in their roof cavities and there are a few options that are available. You can contact your local possum removal service for more information.

There is a wildlife infant that has been hit by a car and is still alive, what do I do?

Stay with the animal (far enough away so it is not distressed by your presence) and call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 (13 000 wildlife).

There is a kangaroo caught in a fence, what should I do?

Call the emergency phone for Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 (13 000 wildlife). The sooner an experienced person can get to the scene, the greater the chance of this young surviving.

There is an orphaned young, what should I do?

All dead female wildlife should be checked for orphans. Many people carry spray cans with them to mark an animal that has been checked, if the animal has a bright coloured mark on it then you need not worry, you can drive on.
Where a young is missing from a pouch then a search of the immediate area is needed. An elongated teat inside the pouch indicates that a young was present.

If you cannot find the young then inform the nearest shelter that a young animal is missing – call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 (13 000 wildlife) or contact your nearest animal shelter.

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