Generally, any animal that is brought into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter by a member of the public is walked or carried past my office door. The modes of transport containers never cease to amaze me. Creatures of all sorts are conveyed in cardboard boxes, plastic totes, laundry baskets, blankets, milk crates and even the occasional shopping bag.
Given the number of kittens that we receive, when those containers go by, I expect to see little feline faces peering out from them. For those of you that have been paying attention to my updates on kitten numbers, we are now up to 283 taken in since April 16.
This past week, though, we’ve had a little added variety in our incoming animals as spring brings forth babies from the wild. We recently received a mother mallard with five adorable chicks in a big cardboard box. Mom has some sort of injury to her legs that we are all desperately hoping can be fixed. Her babies are beautiful and seem very healthy. Our local wildlife rehabilitator will take the duck for veterinary care and most probably will need to have the ducklings raised in a rehabilitation facility.
We’ve been getting baby birds nearly every day, many of which have fledglings that need not have been disturbed. Nearly all of the birds that we commonly find in our backyards are raising chicks right now, so it is normal to see fledglings on the ground trying to find their wings. Their parents will tend them even once they’ve fallen from the nest. They are generally down on the ground for a short time; it may be matter of hours or even a day or two. (Just as an example, baby robins grow to the size of their parents within two weeks of hatching! That is how quickly they grow and attain the ability to fly.)
Unless you feel that there is truly a threat to a fledgling on the ground, please leave it to its own devices. If you find a baby bird that you fear is in danger, call us before you interfere if at all possible. Keep in mind that birds cannot “smell” and their parents will not reject them if they have been touched by a human. You can return chicks to the nest if it is within reach without fear of rejection.
The rabbits and squirrel babies are also popping out of their nests. The same general rules apply to them as far as interfering. Baby rabbits are especially fragile and have a very low survival rate when they are separated from their mother; avoid disturbing their nests whenever possible.
Outside of the shelter, I have removed two box turtles and one painted turtle from the road in just the past few days. I was also too late for one turtle that I found mortally injured on the road over Willow Grove Lake.
Nature is on the move, so keep your eyes open for the turkeys, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons and all the other wonderful creatures with whom we share our communities. Remember to protect yourself and the animals by getting guidance before any interaction with wildlife. Feel free to call us at 856-691-1500 if you need advice or resources with wildlife issues.