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Bird Nests

shinning button To whom it may concern:

The world I grew up in was a wonderful place. I had woods all around me and there were wild animals that lived in those woods. My parents taught me at an early age to respect the wild animals because they had a right to be there as much as I did. I learned early that if you were stupid enough to reach down and pick up something that did not want to be picked up, then there would be a cost for that action. Either a scratch or a bite and the more I tried to hold on, the more I paid.

I learned to respect those animals not as animals but as neighbors who had a right to their freedom.

Today when I teach a class of children, the question always comes up " do these animals bite?

Instead of just answering with a straight yes they do so don't touch them, I prefer to put it in terms that a child can understand and relate to.

I tell the child that if, while walking home from school, they are approached by a stranger who tries to grab them, then I expect that those children will kick, bite, scream, do anything they can to hurt that person and get away to safety. "It is no different for the animals" I tell the children. To them, you are a stranger who is trying to grab them and take them away to hurt them. They will try to hurt you to get away from you. I tell them further that left alone, most wild animals will not act in an aggressive manner towards humans. I tell that they should not be afraid beacause they see a wild animal but to consider an opportunity to get to know their neighbors and to live alongside them peacefully.

I teach children to live responsibly. I teach them that all of our actions come with a price or a reward. If you choose incorrectly, you will pay the price. If you choose correctly there will be a reward.

Unfortunately, too many of todays children are not taught these valuable lessons. Well meaning parents and guardians shelter the children from the lessons that life has to teach them. These lessons produce that person that has become all too rare among todays children, the citizen.

By removing life lessons from the curriculum of a childs life, we do not protect those child from the inevitability of life, We protect ourselves from the responsibility of being that responsible guardian or parent. We do so because we do not want to live with the unpleasantness that a child might experince from these lessons.
That is a selfish and cowardly act.

No one should have ever promised anyone that life was all warm and fuzzy moments with no adversity. Nore should we pass on those delusions to the children in our care. Being a guardian or parent is a job that carries many risks of disappointment and the feelings of sorrow we experience from watching the children in our charge learn about life. If you can't handle the tough times, get out of the business and stop having such a negative impact on the lives of our children.

It is much better to have a child learn that animals sometimes bite and learn to respect and live in a healthy and peaceful coexistence with all of our neighbors (especially the animals) in a controlled classroom setting, than outside where the animals may take more aggressive action to defend themselves.

Animal rights activists have sharply criticized me for using live animals in my educational programs. But there is no better instrument for educating a child about a wild animals or about what we do as rehabbers than to have a live animal in front of them.

Nothing will drive home the point that BB guns are not harmless like bringing a one-winged Broadwinged hawk into a classroom and telling the students that this is the result of someone shooting this bird just for fun. It is not an abstract concept to them at that point. It is a real, live animal paying the price for someones elses carelessness.

Live animals in the classroom are a must! To remove them is to minimize the education of the child.

Having said that, I also wish to state that the safety of the children and the animals must be a primary concern and the person bringing the animals into this environment must take all precautions to protect everyone involved.

Lloyd Brown
Wildlife Rescue of Dade County
Marine Mammal Conservancy

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by Lorinne Anderson

PROACTIVE Wildlife Rehabilitation focuses on assisting the public in dealing with 'problem' or unwanted animals so that wildlife families are not killed, poisoned, trapped, split up and relocated in the first place. They stay on their home territory - eliminating turf wars -with full knowledge of the areas food, water, housing and predator situations.

On site eviction and reunification's of nursing wildlife mothers is far more successful then trapping and relocating.

Trapping and relocating, although easy, rarely solves the problem. The majority of animals dealt with in this manner do not survive due to stress, inappropriate release site, lack of knowledge in local food, water and shelter sites, and predation in unknown territory. Furthermore, if what attracted the animal in the first place is not removed, another will simply fill take over it's place, nature hates a vacuum.

This centre received 33 calls, in 2003 voicing concerns regarding denning female raccoons, and the homeowners desire to remove them. After chatting and allaying their fears (30-60 minutes), the majority decided to let the coons stay until the babes were old enough, to leave of their on accord, with Mum. That kept 100 - 175 kits from being orphaned and requiring care at this wildlife facility alone. But more importantly, it kept another 33 raccoon families intact, in the wild, to grow up under their mothers care, as they should.

When the homeowner is threatening harm to a nursing raccoon family, and no amount of talking will dissuade them, an onsite eviction is called for. This involves entering the actual den, collecting up the raccoon kits, taking them outside and babysitting them until their Mum can relocate them herself. This can take from 1-12 hours, depending on the distance she must travel to her backup den, and the number of raccoon babies she has to relocate.

The seven on-site eviction/reunification's in 2003, kept over thirty kits from being orphaned and brought into care at this facility. It also meant that those same kits remained in the wild, being raised by their Mum as nature intended.

This method was adapted in 2004 to deal with unwanted otter nursery dens beneath homes. In the first, by disturbing the den, and making her feel unsafe the mother otter shifted the babies to a new location on her own. Buckets of ammonia were placed in the vacated crawlspaces (after searching them diligently for any missed babies) to deter re-entry. The entrances were temporarily blocked with the pink insulation or crumpled newspaper, this allows entry in the event that a baby was missed in the eviction, allowing the mother to retrieve it. After three days the area is rechecked and if the blockage is undisturbed the entry can be sealed permanently to prevent re-entry.

In another instance the otter babies were collected up, just like with the raccoons, removed and placed outside the den. She had taken one with her when she fled, was back 20 minutes later for the second, and several hours later for the final baby. Again, this allows her to stay in her home territory where food and water sources are familiar, as are the known dangers, and she has not invaded another otters turf.

It is also critical to attempt to reunite wildlife 'stolen' from their Mums. Raccoon kits here have been successfully returned up to five days after they were taken. In these cases, you return to the original den site after dark, stay with the kits, and stimulate them to cry for her, every half hour or so. When she appears, I place the kits on the ground and back off. By the time I have moved off 20 feet, she is there checking out her babies, and choosing which female she will take first (they always seem to take the girls first, and the boys last). If she has kept a daughter from last year, the daughter will stay with the newly recovered kits, and the Mum will do the relocating.

Another situation last year involved the removal of a nest of eggs from a BBQ. One of the couples that were invited guests were very upset by this, put the eggs under a lamp and called for assistance. Final outcome was had the caller loan their friends a BBQ so that the nest could be replaced in it's original location. This took place the next day, 17 hours later. Within 10 minutes Mum was back on the eggs. Two weeks later 4 of the 7 eggs had hatched and the others were in the process. Unfortunately, this same day the Mum was killed by a neighbors cat and it was discovered too late to save the babies. I still regard this as a successful reunification, and the lesson learned was that even bird Mum's are tenacious enough to take back their entire nest, seventeen hours later.

Operating in a Proactive way does take time, patience and determination. What it doesn't take is money, and in the long run will save time and resources had these babies come into care. Taking up to 12 hours to facilitate an onsite eviction and reunification is nothing compared to hand raising multiple orphans, that 12 hours will be spent tending to the orphans the first few days they are incare. Financially, this eliminates all the costs of orphan wildlife raising (caging, formula, vaccination/vet costs). Proactive wildlife rehabilitation is not only cost effective and time saving but serves our ultimate goal: we keep wildlife in the wild, being raised by their natural parent(s) and prevent the need for the animals to come into care in the first place.

If anyone requires further information on becoming a PROACTIVE Wildlife Rehabilitator, please feel free to contact me personally. Remember, if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem!

Lorinne Anderson,
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator since 1995. Specializing in sick, injured, orphaned, and 'problem' wildlife. Available for emergencies 24/7.

SCWC Website:

Yahoo Group (Coon Rehabbers Only) Rescue, Raising, Release, Regimes, Research and Referrals:

Yahoo Group (Open to Public) For sick, injured, orphaned and problem wildlife:

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shinning button Bird Nests, Youngsters and the Impact of Disturbance

Bird's nests - in general - any nest with eggs in it will be abandoned if;
*       they observe a predator examining the nest - humans are a predator because our eyes face forward
*       they observe a parasitic bird laying another egg in their nest
*       there is any disturbance to the surrounding region including relocation of the nest
*       in a pair bonded species one of the pair disappears/dies, etc
*       there is persistent noise or light disturbance

They may abandon their nest if;
        - the nest has been changed in some aspect but without them observing it
Birds may abandon their nests with chicks in them, if;
*       they observe significant disturbance of the nest without relocation
*       there is relocation of the nest and significant local disturbance to the site
*       one parent is dead or abandons the effort

Chicks may abandon the nest early if;
*       there is significant light or noise disturbance
*       attempts are made to relocate the nest
If absolutely necessary to relocate the nest, attempt to do so with small moves over several days, observing the nest from a distance to ensure the parents return to brood and feed the youngsters.

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