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Wildlife Branch


Young Animals

Birds go through a nestling stage and a fledgling stage. As nestlings these birds are small, almost featherless and incapable of flight. If you find a nestling on the ground, look for a nest nearby. If a nest is found, check to see if the young birds in the nest look like the nestling that you found. If so, leave the nestling where it is and contact the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre with the appropriate information. Do not handle or disturb the nestling.

In the fledgling stage, young birds will leave the nest on their own. They may appear awkward, as fledglings are feathered but not yet experienced fliers. During this period, the parents remain near by while young birds learn to fly and how to gather food on its own. After a few successful test flights, fledglings are capable of fending for themselves. The best thing you can do is leave them in their parents care, and keep pets and children from disturbing them.

Deer fawns are born in late May or June, and in the first few days following birth, fawns seldom move more than one to two metres. They will remain mostly isolated and hidden from predators, and their mothers know where they are and will return to nurse and groom them a few times during the day. Animals might seem hurt if they are not moving or abandoned when they are alone, but they are only behaving naturally because their ability to hide or stay still is a basic survival tactic. Do not handle or disturb the fawn. During the first few months, fawns don’t wander far and remain hidden most of the time, but as they grow older, fawns accompany does for longer distances and periods of time. By fall, does and fawns are nearly always together.

Bear cubs are strong and may be aggressive despite their size. Mother bears are very protective and aggressive when their cubs are at risk. If you suspect a bear cub is truly orphaned or injured, do not attempt to pick it up. Instead, note the precise location and immediately contact the nearest Manitoba Sustainable Development District Office with the information.

Squirrels are independent when their tails are full and fluffy, and they can run, jump and climb. Sometimes very young squirrels may fall or be blown from the nest. The mother will only move her offspring back to the nest as soon as she feels it is safe to do so. Therefore, it’s best to promptly leave the area without handling or disturbing the squirrel.

Young rabbits can still be very small yet fully independent as they are weaned in about 15 days. A young rabbit over 4 inches long is able to fend for itself. If you accidentally disturb a nest doing your yard work or find a disturbed nest, simply leave them alone, the mother will move them. Mother rabbits will come at dawn or dusk to feed them, and will likely move her offspring to a new location. It’s also important to keep pets away from the nests. Baby rabbits are easily stressed, so its imperative that you attempt to let the mother care for them rather than bring them to a rehabilitation centre.

Raccoon and skunk mothers are very protective of their babies. If you come across a raccoon or skunk baby at night, chances are that the mother is lurking nearby and may attack! If you come across an injured or orphaned young raccoon do not handle or disturb the raccoon, please call the nearest Manitoba Sustainable Development District Office. If you find an injured or orphaned young skunk, please call your local animal control officer. Skunks and raccoons should not be handled or transported by anyone but a trained professional as they can carry rabies and parasites.