DON'T BE QUICK TO LEND A HELPING HAND
A few years back, well maybe more than a few, I volunteered as a wildlife rehabilitator. There are many kind-hearted, well meaning people in the gardening world. One of the hardest things was to get people to do nothing, not to rescue.
After working hard to provide the necessary food, water, cover, and nest-sites to make their garden wildlife friendly, they spot a baby blue jay hopping around the garden. It's unable to fly. What should they do? What would you do?
Do Nothing! Baby blue jays almost never need rescuing, even though they have stubby, short tails and down showing where feathers should be. They come out of the nest early and learn to fly from the ground, up.
This is the way most birds learn to fly. If a baby bird is on the ground, its eyes are open, it has feathers, and it appears plump and healthy, its parents are most likely nearby and taking care of it. A rule of thumb: If you have to chase it to rescue it, it does not need rescuing.
Birds do not abandon their babies if you touch them. You can move them a short distance and put them in a shrub for safety - but they will probably just hop back out. If you are worried about cats, keep the cats inside until the fledglings can fly, which is usually only a matter of a few days.
When should you rescue? If the baby's eyes are closed and you can't get it back to its nest; if it's weak or cold; if there are insects near or on the animal; if it's in obvious danger; if it's been hit by a car; or if you know a parent has been killed, then it is time to intervene.
If you have taken an animal away from a dog or cat, it needs to be taken to a veterinarian, even if it looks OK. Wounds from a cat's claws, especially, are hard to see but they are deadly.
If a bird hits your window and is stunned, put it in a cardboard box or a paper bag, with air holes punched. Keep it out of the sun in a safe place for 10 minutes to a half hour. Give it time to recover. If there are no obvious injuries, let it go. Don't be alarmed if it doesn't fly off right away. It is most likely afraid it will run into something again. You might have to give it a nudge.
Stress can be a killer, so keep any wildling warm and quiet. Do not handle it any more than necessary. Do not talk to it. Do not try to force water or food into its mouth. Water dropped into a bird's mouth is often aspirated (breathed) into the lungs, causing pneumonia.
Always call veterinarians before you take a wild creature to them. If the veterinarian does not treat wildlife, he or she can tell you who will.
Do not try to care for a wild bird yourself. Federal laws (and most states) protect all migratory birds. All wildlings take specialized diets and care. Experts should treat them so that they can be released wild and free.
--Posted by Anne K Moore, May 27, 2007--
NASA Seeds in Space
"If you are looking for a challenge with great rewards, if you love to garden and do not relish the routine, if you can accept heartaches and failures, and if you can burst with pride at success, then choose a garden by the sea," Dr. Ed Givhan, Flowers for South Alabama Gardens.