BRANDON NOVOTNY, Park Ranger Prairie Oaks
Spring brings a deluge of baby animals to our Metro Parks, as birds and wildlife nest and raise their offspring. Coming upon any animal baby is one of the unplanned pleasures that await you on a walk in your park.
It’s often hard for people to resist rescuing a baby bird or fawn when, in fact, these animals are perfectly fine. Unless the animal is truly orphaned or injured, there is no need to intervene. Below are some ways to navigate your way around wildlife and appreciate these wonderful creatures.
- If you’re lucky enough to see a newborn animal, especially a fawn, lying alone and quiet, please leave it be. Mother deer leave their babies alone all day and only come back to feed them at dawn and dusk to deter predators.
- If you see a baby bird on the ground hopping, look closer. If it has feathers, it’s probably a fledgling learning to fly. Again, please leave it alone as the parents are nearby. If it doesn’t have feathers, find the nest and quickly put the bird back in it.
- Watch out for those pesky Canada geese. It’s breeding season and they’re highly territorial and will aggressively defend their nests and young. So please, step lightly when you encounter them.
- When kids encounter newborn baby animals, a whole new world of wonder opens up. As a kid, I was obsessed with tadpoles that lived in my backyard creek. I watched the eggs turn into tadpoles and the tadpoles grow into frogs. Bring your kids to a park wildlife program or spend the morning in the woods. Open your eyes and ears and witness the world of nature.
- Finally, never ever keep a new baby animal as a pet. They are wild and are meant to grow up in the wild. Their best chance at survival is with their mother.