With spring comes warmer weather, blooming flowers, and baby animals! It can be hard to determine if baby wildlife is safe with mom or dad watching nearby, or if it is orphaned and in need of human intervention.
Typically, the best course of action is to leave the animal, but here are a few tips to know the difference:
If you find ducklings using your pool for a swim, resist the urge to grab the pool net and scoop them out. If a mother duck feels that her babies are being threatened, they will not return. Instead, place a towel half in the water and half out to create a ramp for the baby ducklings to climb out on their own.
Rabbits begin making their nests around mid-March. If you find a rabbit nest, try to not disturb it as much as possible. If you are concerned it may be abandoned, place a line of flour around the nest. Check back in 24-hours to see if there are adult rabbit footprints leading into the nest.
If you find a featherless baby bird on the ground and see a nest nearby, place it back into the nest. Handling a baby bird will not prevent the parent bird from returning.
If a baby bird is on the ground but has some feathers coming in, this is called a fledgling. The parent birds are likely nearby watching and caring for it as they learn to fly. In this case, leave them where you found them.
Fawns will begin to appear in May and June. Mother deer will often leave their babies for hours at a time and return to nurse them infrequently. This practice helps avoid detection of the fawn from predators and also allows the doe to forage for food. If you see a fawn, it is best to leave it where it is unless it has a very visible injury.
If a mother opossum feels threatened, they will flick one of their babies toward a predator to distract it while they make a run for it with the others. They will not return after feeling threatened. If a baby opossum is found that is the size of a lemon or smaller, it must be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.
When you come across baby wildlife this spring, take a moment before you intervene. People with good intentions want to care for young wildlife, but human involvement can cause a lot of problems for these creatures. Observe the animal for 24-hours, if possible before taking action.
If you are unsure, you can always call a wildlife rehabilitator or Tufts Wildlife Clinic, (508) 839-7918), and ask for advice.
For more information see this article from MassWildlife