Think twice before ‘saving’ a baby bird, says wildlife expert

VANCOUVER — If a baby bird is uninjured, has feathers, can hop and there are no flies swarming around it, then just leave it where it is says one wildlife expert.

That’s advice from Elizabeth Melnick, the founder of Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford. According to the website, each year the centre admits over 1,000 birds and animals and approximately 50 per cent are fully rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

But Melnick says that this year she’s been “overwhelmed” with people bringing in animals, with “well over a 100 baby animals in April.”

But not all of them have been admitted and many have been released back into the wild because they did not need to be at the wildlife centre.

“A lot of people don’t realize that baby birds don’t leave the nest flying,” she says. “They think it’s a bird so it’s going to fly out of the nest, but in fact they tumble out of the nest, land on the ground and they stay there — some birds — up to two weeks.”

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Melnick explains it’s a common myth that if you touch a baby bird, its parents will reject it.

“You can actually make a new nest,” she says. “If the wind has blown down a nest and it’s all in pieces, you can make a new nest and the parents couldn’t care less. As long as they have their babies exactly where the nest was.”

But that doesn’t mean all animals are safe and healthy. Melnick is currently treating a little gosling that was picked up by a crow and dropped. It has abrasions on both sides of his head and a sore leg.

“[He’s] healing well, but it will take time,” she says.

If you’re unsure of whether or not an animal is in danger, Melnick suggests calling the centre before bringing it in.

With files from Nadia Stewart.