When I heard a scratching sound coming from the doorway at my office, I went to investigate and found a young squirrel climbing on the screen door. I had time to grab my camera while it enjoyed its gymnastics and it showed no fear when I got close. The next time I saw the baby, its mom was carrying it to a safer location by the scruff of the neck. Animal moms rarely abandon their young but it can appear that they do. This is the time of year when it is not unusual to come across baby animals with no parent in sight. In reality, they attempt to hide their young while they forage or they may move away from the nest to draw a perceived danger away from it. According to a recent article by the Mercer County Wildlife Center, which treats more than 2,100 injured or ill animals a year, they can assist residents in determining whether an animal needs help and, if so, how to handle and transport the animal safely to an appropriate facility.
If you find a baby bird on the ground that is not fully feathered and, if the nest is within reach, you should return it to its nest. Contrary to lore, adult birds do not reject young that have been handled. Fledglings that can only flutter can be put up on a shrub branch or hidden in ground cover. A downed nest can be put in a berry box and tied to a tree branch. The Wildlife Center recommends that you call them at (600) 883-6606 if you find an animal in distress, whether bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian. They note that the animal may not actually need assistance and removing it from its environment may cause more harm than good. If the animal does need help, do not attempt to feed it or offer water but simply keep it warm and quiet until you get it to its destination. A carton or shoebox containing an old towel or t-shirt, or paper towels and tissues, can be used for transporting the animal.
The Mercer County Wildlife Center is located on Rt. 29 in Titusville, just south of Lambertville. Hours during this busy season are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, check the following links: