Breeding season for our amazing Australian wildlife begins in spring! So not only do we have more babies around, but our wildlife can begin to struggle during the warmer months.
What to do if you find a baby bird or possum.
Birds If you find a young bird out of the nest and on the ground, follow these steps to determine if he or she needs any help or assistance. Is the bird a nestling or a fledgling? Nestlings Nestlings have few or no feathers, and if found on the ground, they need your help. These baby birds are too young to leave the nest and are unable to fly. If you’ve found an uninjured baby bird, please proceed to How to Save Uninjured Nestlings below.
Fledglings Fledglings are juvenile birds who have a mix of fuzzy down and adult feathers and are learning to fly. You may come across them hopping along on the ground, perching on low-hanging branches, or hiding under bushes, but as long as they’re healthy, just let them be. Is the fledgling healthy? Healthy fledglings can stand upright and will tuck their wings tightly against their bodies. If you find a fledgling on the ground and you are concerned, watch closely for an hour and if it is unable to return to the tree, bring down to us (your vet clinic).
How to Help Nestlings 1. Try to Locate the Nest If you come across a fallen nestling who isn’t injured, shaking, or weak and you can locate the nest, use clean or gloved hands to place the bird back into the nest quickly. If you’re able to place the baby back into his or her nest. 2. Create a Surrogate Nest If you can’t see or reach the original nest, make one out of a small basket, kitchen strainer, or small plastic container with holes punched in the bottom. Ideally the “nest” should be cereal-bowl shaped, well padded with tissue paper, and of a non-slippery material. Fasten the nest in a sheltered area of the tree closest to the bird’s original location but out of range of any cats or dogs. Parents of nestlings will continue to feed them as long as they remain within 10 yards, they’re responsive, and no people or companion animals are lingering nearby. 3. Monitor the Bird Watch quietly for a couple of hours to make sure that a parent comes back to feed the nestling. If the parent doesn’t return, please take the bird straight down to the vet or contact a wildlife shelter below. How to Secure the Bird Once you’ve identified an orphaned, injured, or ill nestling fledgling, place the bird inside a cardboard box lined with paper towels and keep the bird warm.
Possums It is a common occurrence for joeys to be found in breeding season and during hot weather. When a baby possum is found alone, most of the time it is because they lost their grip from their mother or they are injured. Always look around to try to find the baby’s mother. Possums are very territorial and if she is still alive she will most likely remain in the area searching for her baby. Before going near the joey, ensure that the mother is not in sight. If you see the mother, it is best to leave the baby possum where you found it. If the possum seems injured and not moving, please bring straight down to the veterinary clinic.
If you find a deceased female possum, check the pouch to ensure there are no joeys inside. If there is a joey attached to the teat, do not pull the joey off as it may damage the joey’s palate, which can be fatal. It is best to bring the deceased mother, with the joey still inside the pouch, into our veterinary clinic. What to do: - Remember where the joey was found - It is best to use gloves to pick up the possum - Place the baby possum in a dark pouch such as a sock - Place the joey inside a small box or carrier with towels to keep the joey secure - Do not hold the joey unless necessary - Use either body temperature or a warm towel to keep the possum warm. Baby possums can die without warmth - Bring down to us immediately. Possums need expert care and hand-rearing to survive at a young age.
How to help wildlife in the warmer months. 1. Leave water out Some companion animals have the luxury of air conditioning, but our wild natives often just swelter. Leave shallow dishes of water in the shade and high up if possible, to keep wildlife safe from predators. Shallow bowls are best, as small birds can become trapped in deep dishes and drown. So if you only have large bowls or buckets, place some large twigs inside to allow any trapped animals to make their way out 2. Keep cats and dogs indoors Not only will this help your animal companions escape the heat, but it will enable thirsty wildlife to access water in your backyard safely. 3. Cover your pool (if you are lucky enough to have one!) Hot animals trying to beat the heat or quench their thirst can drown in pools so taking away that access can save lives 4. Keep an eye out for wildlife If you spot any critters who look like they're struggling, call your local wildlife rescue or veterinary clinic for help. Be particularly mindful at dusk and at night as many nocturnal animals will be more active during this time. An emergency kit containing water, a blanket/towel, and a box can be incredibly useful when finding injured or heat-stressed wildlife. 5. Emergency Care If you have found an animal who is visibly distressed, wrap them loosely and place them in a cardboard box, before placing the box in a dark, quiet, and cool place. Offer water but not food and call the vet (US) straight away. If you are worried about picking the animal up, contact a local wildlife rescue below for assistant.
What does a heat-stressed animal look like? Some of the signs that a native animal is heat-stressed include: - Nocturnal (active at night) animals, such as possums are out during the day - Tree-dwelling animals such as koalas are on the ground - Birds or animals displaying any loss of balance, collapse, confusion or panting
LIST OF WILDLIFE CONTACTS Warriors for Wildlife: 0401 811 937 Help 4 Wildlife: 0477555611 Wildlife Victoria: (03) 8400 7300 South Oakleigh Wildlife Shelter: 0411 600 591