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Improving survival rates for baby birds

For most people, spring means the start of leisurely warm days. For songbird volunteers from Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release, spring means the beginning of the busy baby bird season.

Janice Barbary, Songbird Team Leader for the nonprofit organization, suggests three primary things folks can do to increase the survival rate of orphaned or injured birds they find.

Keep the bird warm, dark, and quiet



If the bird is injured or abandoned — keep it warm, dark, and quiet, “To an injured or baby bird, you look like a predator. Put it in an appropriate size box with small air holes and a lid; line the box with white paper towels adding crumpled paper towels around the edge to support the bird; and keep it quiet. Do not give it anything to drink or eat as improper feeding techniques or the wrong food can kill it,” said Barbary. “Keep children and pets out of the area and if in the car, turn off the air conditioning and radio. Contact Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release’s Intake Center for further instructions.”

Put the baby bird back in the nest




If you find a baby bird on the ground and if it seems unhurt, look for its nest and its parents.

It may take 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted nest watching to spot the parents if they are out foraging for food. If the baby seems unhurt and if you can find the nest with parents still in attendance, you can put the baby bird back into the nest.

“Baby birds will have a greater chance of survival if raised by their own parents,” said Barbary.

Contact Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release’s Intake Center for further instructions if the young bird is injured, if you can’t locate the nest, if it is too high for you to reach or the parents don’t come back to the nest.

If you can describe the baby bird and its parents to the volunteers, they may be able to give helpful information about finding the nest.

Contact Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release’s Intake Center with injured or abandoned baby birds

The Intake Center will open May 1 to accept birds and provide advice between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week. Call 530-477-5774 to reach volunteers for guidance on what to do if a bird is in distress and/or how to transport it to the Intake Center. The center is located at 799 Maltman Dr., Grass Valley, behind Walker’s Office Supplies and across the street from Taco Bell. After hours or before May 1, call the hotline at 530-432-5522 to reach wildlife rehabilitators.

Additional concerns

Cat caught birds need care immediately: It is especially important to know if there were cats in the vicinity and if the bird could have been “cat caught.” Cat saliva contains a bacteria harmless to cats but lethal to birds. Even if a bird escapes from the cat, it will likely die from infection or injuries unless treated quickly with antibiotics.

Window strike injuries: If a bird flies into a home window and is alive, but stunned, also call Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release. Head trauma may be the result, and medication to reduce/prevent swelling may be given before the bird is released.

Volunteers and donations needed

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured or orphaned native wildlife. They have teams that care for raptors, songbirds, small mammals and bats. They also have connections with other groups who take in fawns.

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release has no paid staff. All donations go to the care and feeding of injured/orphaned critters. More volunteers and funding are needed to provide for the successful rehabilitation and release of the animals taken in each year. In 2014, more than 1,200 critters received care and 65 percent were either released back into the wild, were transferred to another facility or are still receiving care.

For more information: http://www.cawildlife911.org/.


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