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What to do if you find a wild animal anywhere

by Ray Iturralde, FSR Board Member Emeritus

In the Wyman Park neighborhood recently, a caring neighbor posted about finding an injured bird in her yard. Within a short time, her next door neighbor was able to put it in a box with a towel and take it to Phoenix Wildlife Center. They identified it as an American Woodcock and have since been healing and rehabilitating it. Too often, a bird strikes a window, mistaking it for a tree due to the reflection or they see a clear pathway. Glass is invisible. It happens at office buildings and it happens at our homes.

Lights Out Baltimore’s (LOB) Director Lindsay Jacks and Outreach Coordinator Lynne Parks helped with some advice for the neighbor and community. With other LOB volunteers, they regularly rescue injured birds downtown due to the birds flying into the big glass windows, and recommend the following:

Put the injured bird in a box or paper bag (sized for the bird). Line the bottom with a paper towel. Clip it shut. Take it to a wildlife rehabber. If you can't, keep it in a warm, dark, quiet place for two hours before releasing it into a non-glassy environment. Or keep it in these conditions overnight if it's a matter of hours of operation. In Baltimore, contact Lights Out Baltimore to transport, if you can’t.

Why do birds strike glass?

Birds strike glass because it reflects the outside environment such as trees and sky. Birds can also be attracted to plants inside of buildings. They don’t see the glass that separates them from the greenery. Birds may see trees on the far side of a glass lobby or curtain wall and think they have a clear pathway to the trees.

Windows can be treated to prevent this illusion and protect birds. The National Aquarium is a great example of a glass building which has been treated with bird-safe window film. See links below for more on making a window bird friendly.

Lights Out Baltimore

Every sunrise during fall and spring migration, a dedicated core group of volunteers walk the streets of downtown Baltimore to rescue injured birds from window collisions and collect dead birds. Injured ones are taken to Phoenix Wildlife Center and dead ones are taken to the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. Over 3,327 birds have been found dead since monitoring the Baltimore streets in 2008 and over 1,085 rescued have been rescued including bats.

I found a wild animal. What do I do?

The Phoenix Wildlife Center recommends taking these steps:

· Use extreme caution when rescuing wildlife.

· Approach animal slowly and quietly.

· Determine if the animal really needs help.

· Please call PWC at 410-628-9736 for advice.

· Do not kidnap a healthy baby!

· Always have an adult handle a wild animal. Keep children and pets away from the animal!

· Never use your bare hands. Wear gloves, and use a blanket or towel to catch the animal.

· Gently place the animal into a cardboard box or paper bag. Make sure it is closed securely for transport.

· Be careful! A wild animal that is hurt or frightened might bite or scratch.

· Keep the animal warm, safely contained, and away from loud noises, children, pets, and air conditioning.

Always wear gloves or wrap the injured animal gently in a linen towel. Some of the smallest birds have the sharpest claws, and you definitely don't want to be bare-handed around the powerful beaks and claws of a hawk or owl.

Photo credit: Maryland Ornithological Society, Bonnie Ott, Creative Commons


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