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Enviro Educator: Wildlife Babies

It is the middle of spring and wildlife babies are popping up everywhere.

The Owl’s Nest Sanctuary is inundated with calls from concern residents. To help ease the minds of the keystone community and to help Director Kris Porter and the rest of the staff at the Owl’s Nest Sanctuary, here are a few facts about babies.

Let’s talk birds.

Right now, the fledglings are starting to leave the nest. If you see these juveniles on the ground hopping around, they are probably okay and not in danger. Most birds do not leave the nest and soar to the sky. Unless that bird is a bald eagle, it is probably going to spend 5 to 10 days on the ground waiting for their flight feathers to grow. Do not move the fledgling. The parents are watching and may protect their offspring by dive bombing at the predator or using other divergent tactics. Moving the bird will cause undue stress. Hopefully, the bird is in a relatively safe area from cars and cats, especially cats. If so, then let nature take its course. If you must move the bird for safety reasons, use common sense. Do not move the baby far or the parents will not be able to find their offspring and protect them.

Everybody likes to fawn over the fawns, but what most people don’t know is that they spend a lot of time without mom, especially the first two weeks of their lives.

While mom is out grazing and moving with the herd, her baby waits where she left him. This could be right next to a fence or a house, wherever the mother feels her baby will be safe. This can be very alarming for someone who comes across a fawn curled up and alone. Kris ask that we show restraint and wait until an hour after dark. If the doe has not come back yet, then send a text message to the sanctuary. The last thing we need to do is to get in the way of Mother Nature. The fawn will stand a much better chance if he can remain with this mother and not be moved where she will never find it.

On the other hand, if you happen to see a baby Opossum text the sanctuary right aways.

Mother opossums do not drop or abandon their baby so unfortunately if you see babies there is a good chance the mother is dead or trapped. Opossums, like coyotes and armadillos, are no longer thought of as nuisances and are thereby protected. Scientist now know they contribute to the environment with a positive impact. The coyote’s diet is 80% rodents, without the coyote we would be having to use more poisons and traps, which nobody likes. Opossums get a bum rap because of the way they look, but don’t worry they don’t want any trouble. They are very quiet, eating snails, slugs and other insects that can ruin your garden. They rarely carry rabies so please don’t hurt these guys. Armadillos eat lots of ants with their long sticking tongue. All native wildlife has a place in the ecosystem. When we eliminate a species, it can wreak havoc on the whole ecosystem.

In a couple of weeks, the squirrels will be leaving their nests to go out into the big world.

Unfortunately for some, they may end up leaving a little earlier than planned. Squirrels falling out of nests and storms blowing down nests are not an uncommon occurrence. Again, show restraint. Go into the house and look through the window. You may be rewarded by seeing the mother come down, pick up the baby, and carry it back up the tree.

Kris Porter has been taking care of animals her whole life.

She was a zoologist at Busch Gardens for many years. This is her life. If you have concerns about an animal, text the Owl’s Nest Sanctuary at 813-598-5926. Take a picture of the animal along with an explanation of the current situation. If the animal is endangered or hurt and is a native to Florida, they can help. We have many rehabilitation centers throughout Florida, which is a great thing, because it is now illegal to care for a native animal without the proper permits and licenses.   If Kris tells you, it is a species not indigenous to Florida, then that animal must be taken to a veterinarian hospital. BluePearl Pet Hospital will euthanize a sick or injured non-native species.

Kris relayed a story about a group of abandoned ducklings that were euthanized because they were mistakenly identified as Muscovy. It turns out they were a Florida species of ducks that should have gone to the sanctuary. Please do not hesitate to contact Kris and her staff through text message with any wildlife questions you may have. With a picture and a brief explanation, she can quickly put you on the right track. Better safe than sorry.

Only a few of our many Florida wildlife species were discussed in this article. For more information on wildlife, go to the owlsnestsanctuaryforwildlife.com Here you will find the address and drop off hours. Every staff member is a volunteer, so all of your tax-free donations will go to feeding and caring for the temporary guests and also the long-term residents.

Thanks to Kris Porter and her staff we can rest assure our keystone wildlife will get the best treatment and care.

Remember, always work with nature instead of against her.

Jane Whitehurst

April 2022
1. Committee Descriptions
2. March 2022 General Meeting Minutes
3. Enviro Educator: Wildlife Babies
4. Cereal for Summer
5. KCA Logo Contest
6. Adopt A Road