Tag Archives: birdwatching

Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count is an annual event for both recreational bird counters and those focused on the contribution it makes to our knowledge of bird life and wellbeing. The Christmas Bird Count takes place at over two thousand “count circles” across the Western Hemisphere, each with a diameter of 15 miles. Each year, tens of thousands of participants show up to lend their binoculars to the effort. The bird count contributes to the study of birds internationally and here in the United States, and is one of the best and longest-running examples of citizen science in action. But its origins are modest and fairly local to the Northeastern U.S.

five, six... huh? Shoot! One, two....

One, two, three, four… [Image: www.calliebowdish.com/]

The Christmas Bird Count, or “census” as it was originally called, was the brainchild of Frank Chapman, an ornithologist, field guide author, and early-on member of the Audubon Society. In 1900, Chapman, along with 26 other observers at 25 sites across North America, set out on Christmas morning to make a list and tally of every bird species and specimen they encountered within a given area. The count was a response to the traditional Christmas “side hunt” where teams of hunters would compete to bring in the most trophies, but was also in conversation with the environmental changes that were apparent even 115 years ago.

This pine grosbeak knows what the holiday spirit is about. [Image: onondagaaudubon.com

This pine grosbeak knows what the holiday spirit is about. [Image: onondagaaudubon.com/]

The point of the bird count was, of course, to count and record as many unique birds as possible and get the attendees out into the fresh air just like its hunting-based counterpart. The count also bears ties to the nascent conservationist and preservationist movements.

You may be wondering why we’re even talking about this, since Christmas has already fluttered past. Good news, everyone! The official Christmas Bird Count lasts through the holidays and wraps on January 5. There’s a map of this year’s counts in addition to organizer contact information available here.

These fellows seem to be enjoying themselves! [Image: learn.eartheasy.com]

These fellows seem to be enjoying themselves! [Image: learn.eartheasy.com/]

But if the ship has sailed or there just isn’t a Christmas Bird Count near you, you can satisfy your bird counting desires or add to your “life list” by grabbing your guide and heading out for a walk in your yard or around your neighborhood. Or perhaps even to a state park, like those you can find with our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps!

OutdoorFest 2015: 10 Days of Adventure in NYC

A panorama of Lower Manhattan as viewed from the Staten Island Ferry. [Image: commons.wikimedia.org]

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

As one of the most iconic cities in the world, New York City has its perks: a breathtaking skyline, an incredible diversity of culture, arts and fashion, and best of all, the ability to eat anything at any time (regardless of how wise it is to do so). It is a city we at ParksByNature Network know and love because we engage with it every day (our offices are based in Manhattan). But living in an urban jungle also has its disadvantages, especially for those who enjoy nature and the outdoors.

So, can urban residents also be outdoor enthusiasts? Fuggedaboutit! (Translation: Of course!)

Which is why we are very excited to tell you about OutdoorFest 2015!

OutdoorFest is a 10-day festival that brings the outdoors to New York City through hiking, biking, fishing, climbing, and other sports and activities. Not only will you have the opportunity to have fun and get active, you will also solidify your personal connection with the natural world.

Whether you’re a New Yorker or a visitor, come join the festivities from May 29 to June 7! There are plenty of activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Spend the first night of OutdoorFest under the stars and go Camping on Staten Island!

Camping on Staten Island

Image: www.outdoorfest.com

Bring your binoculars and your yoga pants for Bronx Birding & Yoga! Both the morning bird walk and the yoga class are FREE!

Birding

Image: www.nycaudubon.org

Are you an avid climber or want to try rock climbing for the first time? Go on a Bouldering Tour in Central Park or take a Learn to Climb Clinic!

Rock Climbing in Central Park

Image: www.outdoorfest.com

Do you want to explore the only freshwater river in New York City and make a positive impact on 4th and 5th grade students? Join an outreach program to take kids Canoeing on the Bronx River!

Canoeing on the Bronx River

Image: www.outdoorfest.com

If you prefer biking, take a Guided Bike Tour up the “Old Put”! For intermediate to advanced cycling enthusiasts, Bike over the George Washing Bridge and up along the Hudson River!

The bridge over the Croton Reservoir is a beautiful highlight of the Day Ride on the Old Put

Image: gothambiketours.com

Looking for nature walks?  Explore Inwood Forest, Manhattan’s last natural forest, or hike the Long Path from GWB to the Adirondacks or learn about Obscure Trails accessible via Public Transit!

Inwood Forest

Image: www.outdoorfest.com

For all the anglers out there, unwind and fish on the Hudson River or the East River!

Fishing on the Hudson River

Image: www.outdoorfest.com

There’s so much more! Check the OutdoorFest 2015 schedule to view all available activities.

And once you’ve tasted what NYC has to offer at OutdoorFest 2015, download our FREE Pocket Ranger® New York State Parks App to discover and explore more places in the metro area and beyond!

Kick Off Summer at National Kids to Parks Day

Get the whole family outdoors at the upcoming 5th Annual National Kids to the Parks Day! On May 16th, America’s state parks partner with the National Park Trust to host this nationwide day of outdoor play. Just a week before the official start of summer, this is a perfect day to explore and discover favorite local, state and national parks and public lands. From scavenger hunts to bird-watching, these state parks are hosting great Kids to Parks Day events:

Nature Hikes & Scavenger Hunts

A family goes hiking in Shenandoah. A great place to go for National Kids to Parks Day [Image: www.goshenandoah.com]

Image: www.goshenandoah.com

Specifically designed with the whole family in mind, the James River State Park’s Scavenger Hunt has 20 items participants have to track down. Winners will get a ride on the park’s Tye Overlook wagon for free that evening! Or learn about Leave No Trace Principles and hunt out all things that shouldn’t be on the trail on Shenandoah State Park’s “Unnatural Hike.”

Join the Lake Bistineau State Park’s Nature Hike for a memorable wilderness experience in the park’s upland mixed hardwood forest, open waters, and stands of cypress and tupelo trees. Stay the night in one of this Louisiana state park’s cabins or campsites, so you can get out on the lake in a canoe or kayak the next day!

At Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in New York, walk the towpath trails on a nature walk, and learn more about native species of birds, animals, plants and flowers. We recommend packing a lunch; there’s nothing better than having a picnic by the Aqueduct Boat Launch or the Yankee Hill Lock!

Bird-watching & Gardening

Kids birdwatching with binoculars [Image: kidsactivitiesblog.com]

Image: kidsactivitiesblog.com

Go birding at the beautiful lagoons and shoreline of Louisiana’s Grand Isle State Park. Resident bird species include a variety of songbirds and shorebirds, such as shearwaters, pelicans, herons, and cormorants. At Leesylvania State Park in Virginia, check out the Osprey Observation. Rangers will be on hand to answer all your questions about these magnificent birds of prey.

The Bristol Bird Club of Virginia will lead a special family birding session at Natural Tunnel State Park. From old growth forest to grassy area, discover all kinds of birds that live in the park’s four different habitats. Or spend the afternoon in the park’s community garden! Alongside the Scott County Master Gardeners, learn more about gardening while weeding and planting.

In Missouri, get down in the dirt at Mudpie Magic at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park! Make mudpies, dig in the dirt, explore rotten logs, and catch crawdads. There are many natural water park features at this state park, so take a dive into the river to rinse off! Or test your birding skills and so much more at Trail of Tears State Park. Join the Birder ID hike and scavenger hunt, and stick around for the “Eggstravaganza” egg hunt and egg quiz challenge at 7:30PM.

Arts & Crafts

Kids flying kites in park [Image: www.kitesclub.com/the-benefits-of-kite-flying-25.html]

Image: www.kitesclub.com/the-benefits-of-kite-flying-25.html

Learn the fascinating art of letterboxing at Shenandoah River State Park’s Letterboxing Workshop! Originating in England, letterboxing involves puzzle-solving and is a bit like geocaching. At this workshop, make your own rubber stamp and then go on a hike to discover your first letterbox.

Go fly at kite at Harry S. Truman State Park’s 3rd Annual Kid’s Kite Day! Park staff will show kids (and kids at heart!) how to assemble and decorate their very own kite. While the glue dries, settle down for a picnic or take some of the park’s example kites for a test flight.

Bluebirds are returning to Missouri on their great migration north. At Pomme De Terre State Park, learn how to build a bird house for Missouri’s state bird. All materials and tools will be provided at this event. Just bring your creativity!

5K & 10K Runs


Looking to keep a brisker pace on National Kids to Parks Day? Join families at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s Run Wild – “A Run for Wildlife!” Proceeds raised from the 10K, 5K, and Kids Run all benefit Nebraska’s wildlife. Both the 10K and 5K take runners through a scenic, naturally challenging trail. The 1-mile Kids Run is perfect for kids ages 12 and under, and parents can run alongside young children. Since none of the events are timed this year, everyone is a winner! Dressing like a wild animal for this event is strongly encouraged. Afterwards, celebrate the day with a picnic, face-painting, fishing, and touring the live animal exhibits.

Families that visit the state and national parks on Kids to the Parks Day are encouraged to submit photos of their adventures to Buddy@BuddyBison.org for possible inclusion in the National Park Trust’s commemorative map. Download your state’s free Pocket Ranger® app for more information about trails, campground reservations, and more!

Wildlife at risk: Prothonotary Warbler

Why is the Prothonotary Warbler considered rare? It seems every time someone utters the magic word, Prothonotary (pro-THON-eh-Ter-ee), everyone goes a little bird crazy. The Prothonotary Warbler is a life bird for many birders; some have seen it only once or twice in their lifetime. Warblers in general are hard to spot, and have been known to cause serious next strains due to their minute size. The Prothonotary Warbler is no different, measuring at 14 cm, it’s especially hard to distinguish among branches and leaves. But more so, these warblers are threatened by habitat destruction, declining food resources, weather variations, and parasitic species. This warbler is listed as endangered in Canada. An estimated 2,000 pairs live in South Carolina’s protected, Francis Beidler Forest.

Prothonotary Warbler in Prospect Park, New York.

This Prothonotary Warbler was taking a stroll around Prospect Park, NY in April. Image Credit: Marc Brawer

See my colors

Among a sea of green leaves, the Prothonotary Warbler’s deep yellow head and underparts stands out. The prothonotary has greenish upperparts, and unmarked bluish-gray wings, white belly and undertail. This helps distinguish it from other yellow warblers. Adults females and immature birds are of a similar shade but with a duller composition. Plumage stays the same throughout the year. If you hear a series of high-pitched tweet-tweet-tweet, sharp and loud, you’ve found it!

Where I call home?

The Prothonotary Warbler is a bird of the southern woodland swamps with a high concentration along the floodplain forests of Lower Wisconsin, Mississippi, and the St. Croix rivers (common to abundant). In the summer they range from southern New Jersey to north-central Florida, west to east-central Texas to southern Michigan. It’s also a visitor of the Appalachian Mountains, sparingly distributed in the northern parts of the states. Their winter range extends from Southern Mexico to Venezuela, and sometimes the warbler plays the role of the island bird in Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

This species breeds in moist bottomland forests either permanently or seasonally flooded with standing water such as sloughs, oxbow ponds and slow-moving backwaters. It tends to find safety above flooder water, which has less risk of nest predations by raccoons— their main nest predator. To defend their territories the tiny male warblers snap their bills and chase away intruders. Males keep watch while the female builds the nest and lays eggs—what a gentleman! To flourish these birds must find breeding habitats in overstay trees with the right kind of cavities for nesting. Typically low cavities such as old Downy Woodpecker holes. Some of the trees they flock to include the swamp white oak, silver maple, green ash and river birch, among others.

 

Why I’m considered rare?

The Prothonotary was included in the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, due to its vulnerable nature and niche habitat. Prothonotaries are prone to suffer from unpredictable ecological changes. For example loss of wetland habitats affects both breeding and wintering grounds. Logging practices are specially harmful to these warblers, since it removes cavity trees. Also some plants like the Reed canary grass, which can dominate the ground layer, impede new trees from growing, thereby turning the bottomland hardwoods unsuitable for Prothonotaries to survive. They also face parasitism from Brown-headed Cowbird, who are known to abandon offsprings in foreign nests. This behavior ruins the warbler’s chance at hatching success, further increasing nestling mortality. In southern Illinois parasitism rates are as high as 50 percent for Prothonotaries.

Climate change is causing a decline in soil moisture, reducing the growth of bottomland hardwood forests, and in turn decreasing available habitat for the birds.  Frequent summer storms and flood events also have a negative impact; they destroy low nests, as it occurred in the Wisconsin River in recent years. Extreme droughts dry backwater sloughs and ponds essential for the warbler’s survival against predators. The overall population is projected to dwindle as the southern part of its main range suffers.

 

Help a bird out

Now that you know about the wildlife at risk: Prothonotary Warbler, plan out some simple ways you can help out this species. During winter, prothonotaries live in mangrove forests; if you have one near you, be sure they’re kept healthy. One sure way to lure these sweet, yellow warblers is by offering a safe habitat for nesting in your backyard. They typically thrive in nesting huts and nest boxes, and are especially drawn to living near water, such a large garden pools, ponds, and marsh. Their favorite trees include willow oak, sweet gum, black gum, bald cypress, tupelo, elms, and river birch. Offer them fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas to keep them around. As everyone knows with warblers, one minute you see them, and the next they’re gone!

Look to the Skies! Birding at the State Parks

This May, look to the skies! Springtime marks a massive migration for hundreds of bird species in North America. Why migrate? The birds migrated to warmer climates for the winter; in the spring, these same birds make their way back up north to their breeding grounds.

Group of birders look through binoculars [Image: archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120122]

Join other bird enthusiasts at the state parks this May! [Image: archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120122]

The first groups of birds to start heading north are waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans). Some birds of prey, such as bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks begin moving north in early spring, as well as blackbirds and sparrows. In April and May, shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) and songbirds (warblers, orioles, thrushes) begin their migration north. Warblers are a favorite of birders, and in certain areas of the country, you may be able to see more than 30 species of these colorful songbirds at one time!

The state parks are gearing up for this mass bird migration with plenty of events. Pack your binoculars, download the Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed app, and head to one of these great birding opportunities near you.

Alabama

Wings Over Oak Mountain
May 1st – May 3rd, 2015
Oak Mountain State Park

Spend the whole weekend with fellow birders at the exciting Wings Over Oak Mountain event at Oak Mountain State Park. This three-day event’s itinerary includes live bird of prey programs, guided birding tours, and educational programs that focus on habitat diversity, bird adaptation, and more. Wings Over Oak Mountain is perfect for all levels of birders; on any of the guided tours, park staff will help birders beef up their avian know-how, from distinguishing bird calls to pinpointing key habitat. The event’s registration fee includes breakfast and a wine tasting from Alabama’s own vineyard, Vizzini Farms Winery.

Learn the difference between a fox sparrow and a song sparrow at a birding event at the state parks! [Image: www.cleveland.com/neobirding]

Learn the difference between a fox sparrow and a song sparrow at a birding event at the state parks! [Image: www.cleveland.com/neobirding]

Pennsylvania 

Festival of the Birds at Presque Isle
May 8th – May 10th
Presque Isle State Park

Catch a multitude of birds migrating along the southern shore of Lake Erie at the weekend-long Festival of the Birds at Presque Isle State Park. More than 320 species of bird have been seen flying through the park, including warblers and other songbirds. At the park’s Gull Point, a sand plain sanctuary, look for migrant shorebirds and terns. George Armistead is this year’s keynote speaker, and every full-weekend registrant will receive a copy of his book, ABA Field Guide to Birds of Pennsylvania. To keep away the crowds, this festival is limited to 150 participants, so make sure to register soon!

Virginia

Hungry Mother State Park Birding Adventure
May 1st – May 3rd
Hungry Mother State Park

Outfit your entire family with binoculars for the family-friendly Hungry Mother State Park Birding Adventure! Ready yourself for three whole days of birding activities and programs for all skill levels, including a live birds of prey show, guided bird hikes, nighttime owl prowls, avian arts & crafts, and kayak bird tours. Richard Moncrief of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics will lead an informative workshop about binoculars: how they work, how to use them, and how to choose the best model for where you go birding.

If you can’t make the entire weekend, but would still like to get your family out birding, join the Family Bird Hike on May 16th at Hungry Mother State Park. Bird enthusiast and master naturalist Randy Smith will lead an informative bird hike through the park. This is a great way for people of all ages to learn the basics about birding.

Four species of North American warblers [blog.allaboutbirds.org]

Four species of North American warblers [blog.allaboutbirds.org]

Ohio

Camping is for the Birds
May 8th – May 10th
Caesar Creek State Park

Celebrate the annual spring migration at Caesar Creek State Park’s Camping is for the Birds! Camp at the Caesar Creek campgrounds, so you won’t miss any of the birding activities the weekend has to offer. Continuous bird banding demonstrations will take place at the Visitor Center, and park naturalists will lead guided birding hikes. See live raptors up close and personal at the park’s birds of prey program, and join in the “Build Your Own Bluebird Box” workshop! Space is limited, so call the Nature Center for reservations and more information: (513) 897-2437.

Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB)
May 8th – May 17th
Maumee Bay State Park

Designated the Warbler Capital of the World, witness the annual songbird migration at this year’s Biggest Week in American Birding! Northwest Ohio becomes a hub for birders every year because hundreds of bird species fly through the area on their journey north. If you are looking for birding heaven, Maumee Bay State Park is right at the heart of the migration route, and a great place to spend the day (and night!) ticking away some elusive species on your life-list. Over the course of the week, birders will see migrating shorebirds, cuckoos, hummingbirds, buntings, thrushes, flycatchers, up to 30 species of warblers and more! In addition to many guided bird hikes and kayak/canoe tours, there will be an optics exhibit, naturalist-led bird banding, a birder’s marketplace, nature photography programs, and a bird tattoo contest.

A flock of birds flies away at sunset [Image: www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/this-just-in/a-race-between-moths-and-songbirds]

Image: www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/this-just-in/a-race-between-moths-and-songbirds

Looking for ways to help the birds migrating through your own backyard?

  • Create backyard habitat for the birds by planting native grasses, flowers and shrubs.
  • Refrain from using toxic pesticides outside. These pesticides pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds need to survive.
  • Keep your cat indoors! Domestic cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species of bird worldwide. The Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that free-roaming domestic cats kill billions of birds every year in the United States.
  • Prevent birds from striking your windows by placing large stickers on them. The sticker breaks up the bright reflection of the sun, so the birds can see that the window is not a viable flyway.
  • Drink bird-friendly coffee! By drinking certified shade-grown coffee you are ensuring conservation of vital bird habitat.

Want to keep track of your bird sightings using just your smartphone? Download your state’s free Pocket Ranger® app to easily locate birding locations, identify species, and send your saved waypoints via email, Facebook or Twitter to other birders. And don’t forget to document and share all of your birding discoveries via the free Pocket Ranger® Bird Feed app, a social network just for bird enthusiasts!

Hiking Deep Creek Preserve

Contributed by Justin Fricke of The Weekend Warrior

Hike in Florida long enough and you’ll get sick of swatting down spiderwebs blocking your way on a narrow trail and even just bushwhacking at times. Look a little past New Smyrna’s sandy beaches in Central Florida and you’ll find Deep Creek Preserve.

Red sign for Deep Creek Preserve in Florida [Image Credit: Justin Fricke]

Image Credit: Justin Fricke

Driving down State Road 415, you can’t miss the sign. The parking’s free and there’s a map of the entire trail at the trailhead. You have the choice between the orange loop that’s around 0.4 miles, yellow loop that’s 4.6 miles, and the white loop that connects with the yellow loop to make it 9.5 miles. In addition to hiking you can also mountain bike along the marked red trail for 1.3 miles. For those that want to take their horses for a stroll, much of the yellow and white loops are shared with hikers.

Green painted pavilion [Image Credit: Justin Fricke]

Image Credit: Justin Fricke

To get to where the loop starts, you’ll hike 0.2 miles, passing by some residential land that’s clearly marked. Some dogs might run to the fence to say hello and see what’s going on. To the left is a screened in pavilion with picnic tables that would be great for a post-hike lunch spot. There’s also a port-o-john, in case squatting isn’t your thing while you’re on the trail.

Trailhead at Deep Creek Preserve [Image Credit: Justin Fricke]

Trailhead at Deep Creek Preserve [Image Credit: Justin Fricke]

Just ahead you’ll find the start of the trail. Hiking in a counterclockwise direction, the first 2 miles of trail is in the woods. The trail’s plenty wide, which I’ve found to be a rarity in Florida, and 4 to 6 people could easily hike side by side. Expect to see some birds sitting in the trees and swooping in front of you on the trail.

Depending on how much rainfall there’s been should dictate your footwear. If it’s just rained, you’ll definitely want to wear waterproof hiking boots/shoes because some parts of the trail do flood. It’s possible to negotiate your way around some standing water, but some parts you just have to suck it up and walk through the standing water.

Florida prairie with overcast sky [Image Credit: Just Fricke]

Image Credit: Just Fricke

Halfway into the yellow loop, the scenery really opens up and you’ll be looking at acres on acres of prairie land. For decades this land was where ranchers let their cattle roam, but now it’s for you to explore and look at wildlife like deer and black bears.

White trail marker in prairie [Image Credit: Just Fricke]

Image Credit: Just Fricke

At the 3-mile mark, you’ve got the choice to hang a left on a wide-open dirt road and be back to the trailhead in 1.6 miles or go straight on the white loop for another 6.5 miles. I chose to hang a left and headed back to the trailhead, knowing rain was looming in the distance.

The Deep Creek Preserve is a great place to spend a day, morning, or afternoon just enjoying nature in Florida. The entire trail is flat and perfect for all hiking abilities.

Address:
964 S. State Road 415
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168

Hours: Sunrise/Sunset

Wildlife Rescue 9-1-1

Family of opossums [Image: Missouri Department of Conservation]

Image: Missouri Department of Conservation

With so many wild animals migrating, nesting, and raising new broods, you are bound to come into contact with wildlife this spring. Of course, nothing in Nature ever runs smoothly. Thanks to the efforts of Fish and Wildlife, wildlife rescues, and people like yourself, injured and orphaned wildlife can receive extra care that will see them through those rough spots.

Common Wildlife “Emergencies”

When it comes to wildlife, we like the Center for Wildlife‘s motto: Don’t rescue unless rescuing is needed. While some wildlife injuries require expert medical attention, there are other injuries or situations that either do not need human intervention or can be treated or resolved at home. Here are three common wildlife emergencies and what you can do to help.

Situation 1: You heard or saw a bird strike a window.

From raptors to tiny songbirds, when the sun strikes a window just right, a bird in flight may not see it in time or believe it’s a valid flight corridor. Some birds succumb to the injuries sustained from such a collision. Others may survive the collision, but — due to shock — become easy pickings for a predator. It’s these disoriented survivors that could use a little help! Below are six steps for rescuing just such a stunned bird:

  1. If you have seen or heard a bird careen into a window, the first thing you can do is find a box with a lid. Poke holes in the lid for ventilation and add some paper towels as bedding.
  2. Bring the box with lid outside and begin looking for your bird. Most likely, the bird will be directly under the window in a dazed state. If the bird is in this condition (dazed, on the ground, easily caught), it could use your help.
  3. Gently scoop up the bird and place in the box. Take a moment to assess the bird’s condition. Is there any blood, and if so, how much? Do the bird’s wings look broken? If there is a lot of blood or the bird appears to have broken bones, call your local wildlife rescue for guidance. If the bird only appears dazed, secure the lid over the box and bring inside.
    A goldfinch in flight [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/fixersphotos]

    A goldfinch in flight. [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/fixersphotos]

  4. Find a quiet, warm, dark space inside your home, such as a closet or a kitchen cabinet. With the lid still in place, leave the box with the bird in this quiet place. The quiet darkness mimics nighttime, which puts the bird in a restorative sleeping state.
  5. After thirty minutes to an hour, check on your bird. Quietly and carefully pull up the lid on the box. If the bird seems more energetic, take the box outside, remove the lid and let the bird fly away.
  6. If the bird does not leave the box or if you can easily catch him again, place the bird back in the box, secure with lid, and return to that quiet place within your house for an hour more. When another hour is up, take the box outside again, open lid, and give the bird another chance to fly away. If the bird still shows signs of injury, contact your local wildlife rescue. The bird may be suffering from internal injuries that need to be professionally treated.

Situation 2: You’ve found a baby bird on the ground.

Finding a baby bird outside it’s nest may be disconcerting, but don’t sound the alarm just yet! A chick outside the nest doesn’t always mean that it’s in danger. First, assess the situation. Does the chick look injured? If the chick looks healthy, decide if it is a fledgling or a nestling. For most birds, the key difference between the two is that a fledgling is feathered, closely resembles an adult bird and can easily perch on a thumb or finger. A nestling is too young to perch and is often more fuzz than feathers. If you’ve come across a nestling, locate the nest and carefully place the chick inside. Unlike the old wives’ tale, the parents will return to the nest to care for the chick. If you can’t find the nest or the nest appears damaged, call your local wildlife rescue. They will have the staff and facilities for successfully raising a chick.

Grackles are a common backyard bird. On the left, is a nestling grackle; to the right, the fledgling grackle. [Image:  www.eastvalleywildlife.org & wildobs.com]

Grackles are a common backyard bird, often amassing in large, raucous flocks. On the left, is a nestling grackle; to the right, the fledgling grackle. [Images: www.eastvalleywildlife.org & wildobs.com]

While it may appear incapable of survival, a fledgling outside the nest is oftentimes perfectly okay. Even when on the ground, the parents will continue to feed a fledgling, and within a few days, the fledgling will be flying. Give the fledgling space; keep children and pets away so the parent birds will not be deterred from caring for the chick. Also keep in mind that not all bird species raise their young in trees. Some birds (such as shorebirds, pheasants and certain owls species) raise their young in scrapes on the ground.

Situation 3: You’ve found baby squirrels out of their nest and/or on the ground.

With the nice weather comes construction projects, and oftentimes this means cutting down old or nuisance trees. Trees provide valuable habitat for a variety of species, such as birds, porcupines, and squirrels. When a tree is cut down, these animal inhabitants have to re-home themselves.

Don't create orphans! Here is a mother squirrel relocates her baby to a safer spot. [Image:  wildlifecoalition.com]

Don’t create orphans! Above: a mother squirrel relocates her baby to a safer spot. [Image: wildlifecoalition.com]

Nests of baby squirrels are frequently found within these logged trees. If the nest is in a relatively safe spot on the fallen tree, resist the urge to scoop up the baby squirrels and rush them to a wildlife rescue! Instead observe the nest from a distance for about an hour. Oftentimes, the mother squirrel is busy locating and reassembling a nest in a nearby tree. Within an hour, this mother squirrel will have moved all of her babies to the new location. Only if the mother squirrel does not appear or if you can confirm that the mother has died, call your local wildlife rescue for guidance. Raising baby squirrels is immensely time-consuming and should only be done by professionals to ensure that the squirrels can be released back into the wild when they are old enough.

Ways You Can Keep Wildlife Safe

  • Be prepared for wildlife rescues by storing a box with a lid, heavy work gloves and blankets in the trunk of your car and/or a closet at home. Save contact information for the nearest wildlife rescue and Fish and Wildlife office in your phone. Remember all wild animals are potentially dangerous and when injured, their first means of defense may be to attack. Keep yourself safe by adequately judging the situation first, approaching and handling injured wildlife only when absolutely necessary.
  • Keep birds from striking your windows by breaking up their external reflection. You can do this by drawing the shades or adhering stickers of hawks, crows or owls to the glass. If you have bird feeders in front of your windows, consider relocating them to a safer area.
  • Don’t throw food scraps from your car window! All this time you may have been chucking banana peels and apple cores from your car window thinking you were helping the planet when in reality you’re setting a deadly trap for wildlife. Trash brings all kinds of wildlife looking for a snack onto the roadways. Keep wildlife safe by throwing away your trash in the proper receptacles.
A wildlife rescue treats an injured screech owl. [Image:  www.yorkcenterforwildlife.org]

Volunteer your time at a local wildlife rescue! [Image: www.yorkcenterforwildlife.org]

  • Keep your cat indoors! Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats kill around 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year in the United States! Give birds and the small mammals in your neighborhood a fighting chance by keeping your cat indoors.
  • If not endangering your property, consider leaving construction projects until after the spring. From birds to squirrels to skunks, each spring wildlife locates quiet shelters to raise their young, and this may be the very shelter you are gearing up to renovate or demolish. Delaying your construction project a few weeks keeps you from disrupting or harming wildlife. Also, wildlife viewing opportunities abound when you temporarily provide habitat for these wildlife families.
  • Volunteer at a local wildlife rehabilitation center! Wildlife rescues often need assistance with cleaning enclosures, caring for orphaned baby mammals, and repairing on-site structures.

Looking for wildlife? Discover wildlife viewing opportunities near you with our Pocket Ranger® apps. Share your bird and wildlife sightings with fellow outdoor enthusiasts on our Bird Feed® and Pocket Ranger Trophy Case® apps!