GEOGRAPHICAL AND SPECIES LIMITS OF OUR SERVICES
We wish that we could help every bird that needs our aid, but our limited energy and resources force us to erect certain limits. Therefore, we have a cap on invasive species.
Our primary mission is to help Washtenaw County birds at this time, but we will accept birds from outside our county.
Our strength is in helping songbirds, a wide category that embraces birds that are neither waterfowl or raptors (owls and hawks). We refer injured and abandoned and waterfowl to the Howell Nature Center (517-548-5530).
In an emergency, we can give advice and short term aid for these kinds of birds, but are not equipped to handle their long-term rehabilitation at our center, nor do we have the space.
Tall buildings are the major cause of death for migratory birds. Lights in tall buildings should be turned off at night, and especially when the weather is foggy. Put Bird Savers© (or other decals) on the outside of windows at home that birds hit. Move bird feeders to within three feet of a window. An injured bird may be inactive or look puffed up. Collision-case birds are often under a window or beside a road. These birds need medication immediately. Keep the bird in a dark box and in a quiet area while you call for help. The bird center cell phone, listed above, is a good place to start.
CAT CAUGHT BIRDS
Although the bird may not appear to be injured, all birds that have been in a cat’s mouth need antibiotics. If not treated they die a long slow death in the wild from infection caused by the bad bacteria in a cat’s mouth. Puncture wounds from the cat’s teeth are often invisible. For your health and the welfare of your cat, please keep house cats inside. If it must go outside, make sure that your cat’s rabies vaccination is up to date.
With the exception of a very small number of birds such as swallows and swifts, songbirds leave the nest unable to fly. They remain on the ground for 5-10 days until their wings become strong and they are able to flutter onto branch stems and bushes for safety. During this time they fall prey to dogs and cats, children, well-meaning adults, cars, lawnmowers, etc. Fledglings should be able to walk or hop, and they should be covered with feathers. Watch the bird quietly from a distance for an hour. If during this time the parents arrive and feed the baby, all is well. Put cats and dogs inside, ask your neighbors to put theirs inside, or get out your garden hose and give any marauding beasties a discouraging shower. Please be respectful of nature and let the wild be wild unless assistance is truly needed.
HATCHLINGS AND NESTLINGS
Finding a little pink hatchling or small nestling on the ground is a traumatic experience. If the nest can be found and the bird does not appear to be injured, returning it to the nest is an option. You can make a pretend nest by using a Tupperware dish with holes poked in and some tissue if no nest is seen. If the bird is very weak or cold and is not opening its mouth to be fed, you should not return it to the nest. The parents will only feed young that open their mouths and beg for food. Call for advice immediately. Make a facial tissue nest and keep the bird warm at 85-90 degrees. Do not use grass which is cold.
Good nesting spots are scarce. Try not to remove old dead trees if they do not pose a risk. Almost all birds, eggs, nests, and nestlings are protected under federal law. Please do not remove eggs from a nest – IT IS ILLEGAL. A nest is not forever. Call the Bird Center and we will try to give you an estimate of how long the nest will be occupied with eggs and active birds. Check all nursery trees to be sure that yours does not contain a nest. It happens more than you would think! If a tree must be removed during the spring and summer, watch it for some time to be sure that it does not harbor a nest. Again, we can give you an estimate of when it would be safe to remove the tree.
With the exception of doves, all songbirds are feeding their young the soft squishy insects, grubs, and worms that you or your lawn company may be trying to eradicate! Help your health and that of children, pets, and birds by eliminating pesticide use. If that seems too drastic, alternate years and dig a few dandelions in the alternate year. You will find you can go much longer between applications.