A Message from the Vet - August 2012
Leave Babies Alone!

We see numerous cases of wild bird babies brought into Kailua Animal Clinic each year. In cases where there is injury or illness, we are happy to help treat them or peacefully end their suffering if necessary. However, in most cases, perfectly healthy babies have been picked up and brought in. Please don't pick up wild animal babies!

Baby birds may appear orphaned after falling from a tree or nest. If the nest is fallen, place the nest and bird back into the tree or nearby shrub. If the bird is fallen and you can see the nest, place the bird back in the nest. If there is no apparent nest, place the bird in a nearby covered bush or fashion a "nest" out of a small box or basket with tissues and place this in a tree or bush. Adult birds will not reject their babies if you touched them while replacing them back in the nest.

Just because the baby is alone does not mean it is abandoned. The parents just can't be in two places at once, and are likely foraging for meals. Abandonment will usually only happen due to injury or death of the parent. If you are concerned because you have cats and dogs that might attack the young baby or be frightening away the parents, please keep your pets inside or away from the immediate area of the bird.

Also remember that native wildlife is legally protected. This means that it is illegal for anyone to possess a native wild animal unless they retain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. All wildlife rehabilitators should have these permits to provide temporary care for orphaned or injured wildlife.

On the other hand, some non-native species have been deemed to be injurious to native species or Hawaii's ecosystem. These few species, such as the red-vented bulbul, are legally required to be unreleasable if taken in from the wild. From a conservation perspective, we ask you to protect Hawaii's native species, including birds, plants, and insects, by not releasing injurious non-native species back to the wild.

Observing wildlife can often be a pleasure, and we are lucky to live in a place where we are surrounding by beautiful flora and fauna. We should also be aware of what may seem to be the "dark side" of nature: the predator/prey relationship. Mortality rates in wild animals are very high, and it is rare for wildlife to die a peaceful death due to old age. Sometimes nature must be allowed to take its course.

Unless there is an injury or obvious health issue, please don't take a baby wild animal from its mother. In most cases of dealing with wildlife, the best course of action is to do nothing! A wild baby's best chance of survival is being raised by its natural parents. However, if you have questions about an injured baby bird or other wildlife, please feel free to call us at 263-8863 or the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources at 587-0166.

Jill Yoshicedo, DVM

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Last updated 2014 May 10.