We recently had a pair of ducklings brought into our centre and ducklings like any other baby bird can be vulnerable to predators and dangers. When they leave their nests some ducklings will end up getting injured or separated from their parents.
These two ducklings were found by a passerby on a busy main road. After observing for a while, the parents were nowhere to be seen and so these ducklings were at real risk of being hit by a vehicle. We would always urge to leave baby birds in their own environment as usually the parents will come back, but in this case where they were in imminent danger, the ducklings had to be moved. The passerby brought the ducklings to us and despite our best efforts sadly one of the pair passed away. These young animals are wild and so sometimes the stress of handling even with good intentions can be too much for them.
The other duckling seemed to be much stronger. He went on to grow well, eat and play around like a normal baby bird. When we felt it was safe to do so our centre vet Jo took him to a friend who has looked after many of these ducklings before and managed to release them into the garden where they have a large duck pond. Many have since flown off but some still hang around. By chance, Jo’s friend had also had a duckling of a similar age brought to a practice near her just that week so the two were introduced and now get on very well living together.
We wanted to bring you this story to remind you of some key points when dealing with baby birds.
Most baby animals will be out of sight unless pets or other animals have disturbed nesting places. Take care if you find an injured baby animal as these will be scared and may bite or scratch in self-defence. It is often best to phone for advice first before attempting to intervene, as it will depend on the species as to the best course of action. Occasionally we will stumble across a nest when we ourselves are exploring the great outdoors. If you find a nest of baby animals, do not disturb. The parents are usually not far away and will probably be watching! The quicker we move away, the sooner they can return. One thing to keep in mind is these are wild animals. Whilst it may be tempting to try and hand-rear these animals and keep them, this is not natural for them and we cannot provide all they need in a domesticated environment.
During the summer months female hedgehogs may come out in late afternoons to forage for nesting material and extra food for her young. She will be active and should appear bright and healthy, instantly rolling up into a ball, using their spines to protect them from predators. These hedgehogs should be left well alone.
A hedgehogs young are called urchins and a typical litter size is 4 to 6 babies. The mother will usually only have one litter a year, normally born early to late summer. Like with other animals if you uncover a nest with urchins in it, do not disturb it, but cover it over again and leave it. The mum will usually return but not if human scent is on the babies.
We will always try to provide advice or if needed we can refer to specialist centres for wildlife enquiries. We hope this provides a starting point for what to do when it comes to wildlife but contact us if you need more specific advice.