Early one morning last spring, I opened the living room curtains and was surprised (to say the least) to discover a tiny baby deer lying on the concrete driveway between my car and a retaining wall. I called the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, thinking someone would need to rescue the baby. A friendly person answered the phone and advised that it’s not a problem, the baby deer were being born then. She said the mothers pick a place they think will be safe for the baby and that mom would come back for it. In the afternoon, she did and they both went off into the woods behind our property.
When I found out that the Hampton Bays Library was hosting Baby Animals 101 with the Wildlife Rescue Center on March 15th, I immediately signed up to learn more. A good-sized audience was on hand, some coming from as far away as Shirley. On hand from the Rescue Center were Executive Director Chris Strub, Director of Development Noelle Dunlop, and Hospital Supervisor Adrienne Gillespie; all three are licensed wildlife rehabilitators.
We learned that a baby animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother, and many animal moms come back to feed their babies even though we don’t see them. If you find a baby animal on your property this spring, here’s some basic advice.
Call the Rescue Center for help (631-728-4200). They’re there seven days a week and they’ll tell you what to do.
If they recommend that you bring the baby to them, do not give it food or water. Put the baby in a ventilated box with a secure lid and some soft cotton fabric or fleece to lie on. Keep the baby warm with a hand warmer in the box, or make a warmer by filling a sock with dry uncooked rice and warming it gently in the microwave, then placing it on one side of the box, not directly against the baby.
Put the container in a quiet, warm place, away from pets or young children. Do not handle the baby more than is absolutely necessary. Transport the baby to the Rescue Center or another licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. And keep the noise down in the car while transporting.
If you find a baby bird that’s fallen from a nest but isn’t injured, put it back in the nest if you can – the mother will come back to feed it. If the nest is destroyed you can make a substitute from a berry basket, or Tupperware container with holes punched in the bottom. Line it with dry leaves or grass, gently put in the baby or babies, and put the nest as high up in the tree as possible.
If you find a baby rabbit, put a landscape flag near the nest and keep people (and pets!) away. Bunnies mature fast – in 4 weeks.
But be sure to call the Rescue Center for advice – they’re a great resource.
The Center invites everyone to join them on April 15th from 12 to 3pm for Keela the fox’s Housewarming Party – a new home has been built for her. The event will feature a ribbon cutting, live music, delicious baked goods and fun activities for kids. And their animal ambassadors will be on hand. The Center is located at 228 W. Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.