Hello there, birders!
During Spring & Summer, you may find wildlife & birdlife in distress or deceased. Please note that The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects birds and bird parts (feathers, eggs, and nests) by forbidding anyone without a permit to own or handle birds or bird parts. This law serves an important conservation purpose by allowing authorities to curtail activities that adversely affect birds.
With that said, let's start with "Orphaned" Birds. Rule of thumb: Leave them be! What may seem like a bird too young to have left the nest or has been abandoned, is the majority of the time doing just fine. Fledglings can leave the nest before being able to fly and oftentimes, are being cared for by the parents close by. If the fledgling is on a roadway or other danger, either "shoo" the bird to the safety of cover (nearby shrubs or trees), or go ahead and pick it up and relocate it close by out of the way of danger. Minimal touching will not harm the fledgling/s or keep the parents away.
Prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease. A 10% bleach solution is often recommended and some feeders can even be placed in your dishwasher. If a sick bird does come to your feeder, minimize the risk of infecting other birds by cleaning your feeder area thoroughly. If you see several diseased birds, take down all your feeders for at least a week to give the birds a chance to disperse.
The National Wildlife Health Center has info on wildlife diseases: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/
Additionally, this is a more in depth article from USFWS: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlifewatching/coping_with_birdfeeder_diseases_pamplet.pdf
Start by contacting a wildlife professional that has a federal and state permit to collect birds or bird parts. Remember the bird’s location. Please do not pick up the bird without permission, as this is illegal.
If you do encounter an injured bird, animal or need further guidance, please call our local wildlife response at (757) 543-7000. Here's a link to their site, http://www.wildliferesponse.org/new-education/found-injured-or-orphaned-wildlife. They have licensed rehabilitators with a wealth of knowledge that can help you help wildlife!
Additional resources in Virginia & the U.S.
- The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains an online directory of permitted wildlife rehabilitators, so that you may search by county and species.
- Richmond: Area Rehabbers Klub [ARK] 804-598-8380
- Northern Virginia: Wildlife Rescue League [WRL] 703-440-0800
- Virginia Beach: Virginia Beach SPCA Wildlife 757-427-0070 extension 38; Evelyn's Wildlife Refuge 757-430-2886
- Winchester: Blue Ridge Wildlife Center 540-837-9000
- Roanoke: Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke 540-798-9836
- Animal Help Now is another resource for locating a wildlife rehabilitator in any part of the United States.
And lastly, a guide from the Wildlife Center of Virginia's info and Healthy, Young Wildlife: http://wildlifecenter.org/healthy-young-wildlife