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Wednesday's Wildlife: Wild Young

Welcome spring, and cute baby animal season! Being young is a struggle, and sometimes young wildlife needs our help. On the other paw, some wild babies might be doing better than you think.


Figure 1: Fledglings with bright gape flanges (edge of the beak is brightly coloured, usually yellow) with short stubby tails and remaining down. From left to right: Cedar waxwing, blue jay and American robin.
Figure 1: Fledglings with bright gape flanges (edge of the beak is brightly coloured, usually yellow) with short stubby tails and remaining down. From left to right: Cedar waxwing, blue jay and American robin.

In spring, there is a chance that the “bird that can’t fly” may simply be a fledgling. Young birds need time to develop their wing muscles, skills, and flight feathers. A fledgling can be identified by its large yellow gape flanges (the bright yellow rim of its beak) and the presence of nearby parents. Fledglings are at a risky stage in their lives. Keeping pets indoors while fledglings explore your yard will certainly improve their chances of making it past that awkward phase. If a cat or dog has a bird or other wild animal in their mouths, then it will require immediate care from a wildlife centre.


Leveret (baby hare).
Figure 2: Leveret (baby hare).

What about those cute, fuzzy, adorable baby hares? When found during the day in the middle of a field, they can seem helplessly alone. But wait! Their parents would argue otherwise. Baby hares, also called leverets, are born without a scent, keeping them safe from predators like coyotes or bobcats. The mother hare visits its young infrequently, keeping it safe from predators. The richness of hare milk means babies need only one feeding a day. Most baby hares found on their own fit the “see a hare, leave it there” slogan. But, as discussed with fledglings, being young is a risky time of life. We can help by keeping pets indoors or giving the leveret space when spotted. 


Two cats looking out a window.
Figure 3: Keeping pets indoors or on a leash help keep fledglings safe while they are learning to fly!

See other wildlife young and aren’t sure if they need help? Try observing the animal over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It is normal in some species for the parent to leave for an extended period. Observe the behaviour and physical state of the young. Does it look bright-eyed? Well-fed? Active? Not in distress? If so, it is likely doing just fine and not orphaned after all.



Wildlife Comic on how wild babies are cute but are not for cuddling, shows a fawn, leveret and robin fledgling.
Figure 4: Calgary Wildlife Comic: Cute but not cuddly

 

Spring is a wonderful time to observe the life cycles of our wild neighbours; what’s happening in your neighbourhood?

 

Uncertain whether wildlife needs help? Found injured or orphaned wildlife? Please call our hotline at: 403-214-1312.

 

 

 

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