Animals respond to capture with ―flight, fight or freeze. This means that if possible, they will initially try to look for a means of escape. Younger animals will freeze to avoid detection. Fight response can include bawling, screaming, pecking, scratching, clawing, biting, and flapping of wings.
- Protect yourself by wearing thick gloves, such as leather gloves.
- Do not put your face near the animal.
- Use a light towel/blanket/sheet to throw over the animal and then gently pick it up and place it in to the appropriate container. Most animals will settle down if their head is covered.
- If you are bitten or scratched, clean wound immediately with antiseptic and seek a physician’s care.
Preparing a Container
- Select a container that is the appropriate size for the animal.
- Line the bottom of the container with something soft. (paper towels, fleece, shredded newspaper, ravel-free towels).
Do not put food or water in the box!
- Secure the container with tape so animal does not escape in your home or car.
- Note exactly where the animal was found.
- Wash your hands after handling of any wildlife.
- Transport animal/bird to Wildlife hospital as soon as possible.
Containers for Transport
Animals that are injured or compromised may be in shock and may not respond with normal defense mechanisms. Once contained, if they start to revive, they may become more active and attempt escape.
Containers should have a tangle free material (sheet, towel, paper towel) on the bottom to prevent the animal from sliding around during transport and the container should be large enough to allow for good ventilation.
Small holes can be made in the cardboard box before placing the animal inside. Water and food dishes should be removed when transporting.
Cardboard boxes work the best for most birds except Ravens (they are able to pierce the box with their beaks). For very small birds, you can use a paper sack with air holes. Plastic pet carriers work for larger birds but care must be taken to cover holes with box board so wing and tail feathers do not get damaged.
Pet carriers work well for most small mammals except squirrels, bats and porcupines.
Squirrels, who can chew their way through the plastic, can be transported in small plastic totes with small ventilation holes.
Bats can be transported in small, sturdy cardboard boxes; small plastic hamster totes. Note they can escape through seemingly impossibly small holes!
Porcupines can be transported in plastic totes or metal or plastic garbage cans with ventilation holes. Use a broom or pole to “encourage” it into the container.
Wire cages are not recommended for most animals as they can easily escape or damage their limbs or feathers against the wire.
General Information about Birds:
All migratory birds and their nests and eggs are federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Baby birds are born in one of two ways:
- ducklings, goslings, killdeer – usually waterfowl or shorebirds
- Born with down, eyes open, and are able to walk around and self feed within 24 hours of hatching.
- They leave the nest site either immediately or within 24 hours and follow the female or both parents to feeding sites and water.
- robins, sparrows, bluejays, magpies, hawks, owls – usually perching or songbirds
- Born naked or with a light down, eyes closed, dependent on the nest, nest mates (for body heat) and their parents for a time (dependent on species) and cannot keep themselves warm.
- Characteristics of Nestlings
- No feathers developed, if any they are mostly pin feathers. Visibly naked.
- No tail feathers or only pin feathers growing.
- Can move its head and body a little but is unable to support itself and stand. Uses its wings to help guide around the nest.
Characteristics of Fledglings
- Body is fully feathered with no or very few areas without feathering. Eyes open. Can sometimes look like an adult.
- Are able to hop around and may flap wings but may only be able to fly short distances.
Spend several days on the ground (variable with species)
Short tail feathers that are growing in.
Typical Calls Received about Birds
Parent Birds Dive-bombing
When birds fly at people, dogs, cats, etc., it is called dive-bombing. It is often done when parent birds are protecting their nest or young. This behaviour occurs during the spring and summer and is prevalent in the corvid family (crows, ravens, bluejays) the troupial family (blackbirds) and thrush family (robins).
It is also common in other species such as hawks and owls. It usually occurs when the young are fledgling (the time when they are leaving the nest). This behaviour can last for a couple of weeks and will stop when the young are flying.
If the area can be avoided for the brief time it will take the young to fly, this is the most humane. Signs can be placed around the area warning people of the possible danger.
Umbrellas can be used to protect oneself from potential dive-bombing. Like humans, the birds are merely protecting their young from perceived threats. Try to stress this is a temporary situation and will resolve once the young are more independent.
Distinguishing Baby Birds from Injured Adults
Sometimes injured adults are misidentified as being babies, either because of their size or because they are unable to fly.
Try to identify the species to aid further discussion. Suggest they send a picture.
Remember the time of year. Nesting season for most birds is May through to August. (Rock Doves the only exception – they will breed all year long!)
Go through characteristics of young wildlife versus adult wildlife. You can use a bird book to help discuss the colouring of a juvenile bird versus an adult bird.
- Crows: young crows have blue eyes and the skin around their beak is pink.
- Magpies: young magpies have short tails as opposed to the very long tails of adults. One situation where this is invalid is if an adult magpie has lost its tail feathers.
- Robins: young robins have speckled chests and typically have tufts of down feathers on their heads.
Human Scent on Baby Birds
Birds do not abandon their young just because they have been handled by humans. Birds have a very poor sense of smell. They also have invested a lot of energy into their young and have a strong bond their young and to care for them until the young are independent.
Altricial Birds Out of the Nest
These birds are naked or have light down. The bird must be put back into the nest immediately. Once out of the nest, there is a poor chance of survival as they cannot regulate their body temperature and they require constant feeding and warmth.
Ask the caller to look around the immediate area for the nest and try to return the bird. If the nestling is cold, it should be warmed up in the hands first. If the nestling is not cold it can be put back in its nest and monitored for the return of parents. If no nest is found nearby, the nestling should be brought to WILDNORTH hospital or rehab centre.
Nest and Babies on the Ground
Try to get the young and the nest back into the tree. Ensure young are kept warm. If needed a makeshift nest can be made and the young put into that. A makeshift nest can be made by using a margarine container.
Makeshift Nest Instructions
- Use a pen or scissors to put 4-5 drainage holes into the bottom of the margarine container.
- If possible, use material from the existing nest and form the shape of a nest inside the container.
- If nesting material is not available, fold a piece of paper towel to make a ring of support for the base of the container and then use grass and small branches to replicate a nest. The nestlings should be able to sit upright in the nest with their legs tucked underneath.
- Place the makeshift nest exactly or close to the site where the original nest was. Tie downs, zip ties or rope can be used to support the nest in the tree. Do not use duct tape as birds may become trapped in it.
- Put the babies back into the nest and monitor for 1-2 hours for the parents to return. If they do not, contact the Helpline directly for further advice.
Nest of Baby Birds in an Inappropriate Location
It is illegal to move or remove an active nest (eggs or young). Try to identify the species of bird the caller is calling about – this will help guide further discussion. Usually giving the caller additional information about how long the birds may be there will help them to accept the situation until the birds are fledged.
Construction sites: Migratory birds are protected and nests & eggs cannot be moved or destroyed. They MUST contact Canadian Wildlife Service for further instructions.
Fledgling Birds Out of the Nest
General Information: Many young songbirds will spend a few days or more on the ground or in the surrounding shrubbery still being cared for by one or both adults. Young songbirds at this stage would be fully feathered, active, hopping around. This is normal.
Watch carefully for attendance and actual feeding of the young by the adults. There are some circumstances that may require intervention even though the adults may be around.
Robins are usually flying well within one to two days of leaving the nest. Other birds may take longer.
Specifically, corvids (crows, magpies) may not attend to the young on the ground if there is presence of danger (dogs, cats etc). Corvids begin incubation of eggs with first egg laid, which means chicks will vary in age within the nest. The youngest chicks may be just leaving the nest while the older ones are already strong and starting to fly. Adult birds may spend more time with the older, stronger ones leaving the younger ones who may become dehydrated quickly.
Advice: Have the caller monitor the situation from a distance to watch for attendance by parent. Try to keep pets away from the immediate area for a few days. If the young birds are not mobile or do not appear alert and active then it should be captured and evaluated.
Feeding Baby Birds
Baby altricial birds require frequent feedings: every 15 minutes to every 3 hours to stay alive and to grow and thrive.
If a baby bird is orphaned or injured, it should be taken to the WILDNORTH hospital or rehabilitation centre immediately. If the caller is unable or incapable of bringing the animal in, then please arrange for transport Advisor to pick up.
One Parent Bird Has Died?
Many birds are raised by both male and female birds. If one parent bird is thought to have died, the remaining parent will typically continue to care for the young. Often people suspect a parent has died as they never see both parents together. Usually parent birds will spend 10-30 seconds feeding their young and then fly off and continue foraging for food. They may be feeding young that are spread out over an area and must attend to all of them. Robins may raise one batch of babies, the male continues to feed the young fledglings while the female may be starting another clutch of eggs.
- Advice: Try to identify the species of bird the caller is calling about – this will help guide further discussion.
- Recommend they go make a cup of coffee then sit quietly and monitor the comings and goings at the nest or to the fledglings. Often this will reveal a fast feeding.
- Ask the caller to report back. If there is strong suspicion that the nest or fledgling is abandoned refer to staff.
- For example: nest boxes with House Wrens – both adults have been coming non-stop to feed the young for several weeks. Suddenly no adults are attending the nest. This is a case for intervention.
General Information about eggs & incubation: Nesting, incubation periods, clutch sizes all vary tremendously depending on the species of bird. Some birds lay one egg at a time (e.g. one egg per day) and will not start to incubate the eggs until a full clutch is laid. This ensures for some species all eggs hatch at the same time. Other birds will start incubation of eggs with first egg laid (Great Horned Owls.) Incubation starts the formation of the chick. If no incubation, then no live chick.
Nest abandonment can be common with inexperienced first-time nesters and they may have selected a nesting site that is not safe. Many birds will attempt another nest elsewhere. If incubation is interrupted for extended periods of time, the chick will die in the egg.
Mallard hens will leave their nest of eggs periodically to go feed but generally will cover them with downy feathers. If after several days there hasn’t been an additional egg laid and no parent has returned to the nest the egg is likely not a viable egg (not alive anymore).
Advice: It is illegal to collect eggs. Try to identify the species of bird the caller is calling about – this will help guide further discussion. If there is insufficient information for informed decision-making, then it is best to advise the caller to leave the eggs alone. The eggs can be left where they were found, so they can either be food for another animal or disposal later when it is clear they are abandoned.
Care of wildlife especially from hatching is very difficult to replicate in captivity. There is no facility in or around the Edmonton area that is able to incubate eggs and raise the young. It is illegal for members of the public to do this. It is vital that all species of wildlife maintain a normal situation, environment, and psychological factors in order to survive and be of benefit to their species.
Typical calls about Waterfowl
General information about waterfowl
Canada Geese and Mallards are the most common waterfowl in the Edmonton area are well-adapted to urban environments. They nest on the ground (in planters; on mounds of dirt/grass; in back yards with water features) as well as on rooftops and balconies, often quite a distance from water. Canada Geese eggs are incubated by the female while the male stands guard from a distance. Both adults fiercely protect their nest, eggs and young. 5-6 eggs (occasionally 2-11) are laid and Incubation starts with the last egg laid and lasts 25-30 days. After hatching, the young are led to water within days. Young may have to jump down from heights to reach the adults who are calling from below.
Mallard eggs are incubated by the female only; the male does not participate in raising or protecting the young. Mallards will lay 10-12 eggs and incubate for 26-69 days. Young are led to water soon after hatching. Mallard females will often fly off a short distance if threatened but will not abandon their young. Mallards may also employ the “broken wing” technique to divert the attention of a predator away from the young and on to her. As the predator gets closer, she leads it away feigning a broken wing and then flies off. The young have then had time to scatter and hide. When it is safe, she comes back and calls for the young to gather them together again.
Try doing a search on google maps to look for nearest water.
Goose standing alone in a yard/field/parking lot
In spring, a goose standing alone is likely to be a male standing guard while the female is somewhere nearby tending nest/eggs. If it does not appear to be injured, this is normal.
In fall, a goose standing alone is more than likely injured. Advise the caller to monitor and describe any injury. Get specific location. Advise caller to keep us updated. If the bird has access to water, rescue is difficult and time-consuming. Refer this call to back up for further instructions. WILDNORTH has limited rescue service available but may be able to organize a rescue after all factors taken into consideration.
Geese Attacks on People
Male geese (ganders) are very protective of their families and have been known to attack people if they feel their family is threatened. They will lower their heads and make hissing, snake-like noises as well as run forward with wings spread open. To prevent the family feeling threatened, the nesting area should be avoided and signs put in place to warn people. A temporary fence, such as a snow fence, between the nesting site and where people work often solves the issue by providing a visual barrier.
Mother Duck with Ducklings
If the mother duck and her ducklings are in a dangerous area, such as crossing a road, the family can be ushered to safety if possible. The caller should be cautioned to be extremely careful when crossing the road and to not put their life in danger. RCMP and Fish and Wildlife can be only contacted if the situation poses a safety hazard to humans.
If the babies are trapped in a yard and they cannot get out, ask the caller to open up an access gate to the yard for a short time and usher the ducklings out. While the mother can fly, the babies will not be able to and will need to be released from the yard.
Alternatively, the ducklings can be gently captured, placed in a box and put on the other side of the fence. If the female flies off, she will return and call to them to reunite. Mallard hens can nest several kilometers away from the nearest water source. When the babies hatch, she leads them to water over the course of the day or several days.
Ducklings with No Mother
If ducklings are found and there is no sign of a mother, the caller can gather the ducklings up into a cardboard box. Leave the ducklings in the box, and step away to see if the mother returns.
Also, try to locate the nearest spot with open water or look in unexpected places as well like flower beds. If a mother is still not found within an hour the ducklings need to be brought in for care immediately.
It is important that the caller does not put water in with the ducklings because the ducklings could fall in and get soaked and cold. Reuniting of ducklings needs to be done with care to ensure the correct identification of species.
Ducklings in a Sewer
Unfortunately, ducklings can easily fall into sewers and road drains when following their mother to a water source after hatching. Rescue team will need to be dispatched to assist.
Ducklings in a Pool
Before they can fly, ducklings have a hard time getting out of water sources so in a situation like this a ramp can be placed half in the pool and half on land to encourage the ducklings to walk up it and to safety. Rescue team will need to be dispatched to assist.
Geese/Mallard Nesting on Balcony/Parking Tower/Rooftop
Baby waterfowl have been known to fall from great heights without injury. However, if a gosling/duckling has to jump down more than two stories to reach its parent(s), or there is a physical barrier (more than 12 cm/5 in) they may require assistance. Try to enlist the caller’s assistance as they are on-site. Young can be caught using a net (two rescuers may be needed) and brought down to floor level to be reunited with the adults. An evening rescue may be more successful as newly hatched babies tuck under their mother’s wings to keep warm. Rescue team will need to be dispatched.
Ducklings Trapped in a Courtyard or Fenced Area
If a mother has chosen to nest in an enclosed area, the ducklings can become trapped. Callers can open up any access points or walk the babies through the building. If this is not possible, the ducklings & female can be collected and placed on the other side of the enclosed area or taken to another appropriate site. There is a danger that the female may fly away during attempted capture. An evening rescue may be more successful as the newly hatched babies tuck under their mother’s wings to keep warm. Rescue team will need to be dispatched.
Diving Ducks (Goldeneye; Scaup; Ruddy Ducks)
Goldeneye ducklings are also commonly found alone having been separated from the mother while heading for water. These ducklings are very distinctly black and white. They are highly stressed when captured and need to be reunited with the mother as soon as possible or fostered to another Goldeneye family. Ask caller to scout out the area near where the ducklings were found for a nearby water body and assess for presence of a female Goldeneye. If unsuccessful, these babies need to be brought in for care as soon as possible.
Grebes & Loons — Dry-Landings
Due to the positioning of their back legs, grebes and loons are very awkward movers on land. If a grebe or loon is found on the ground away from water, they either dry-landed or they are not well and should be carefully collected (wear eye protection; watch that beak! cover bird completely and carefully during capture). If possible, provide extra padding on the chest/belly using bubble wrap or an extra towel shaped like a doughnut.
Often, these birds have dry landings, particularly on roads when it rains heavily because they think of a road as a water source. When they land, they hit road and can cause serious damage.
As well as potentially suffering from injury, when on land, these birds can get oily and collect foreign substances on their feathers. These issues can damage their waterproofing, which is required to keep them warm and safe in the water.
Collect and bring to Wildlife Hospital ASAP!
Coyotes have long existed within the city of Edmonton and generally stay in the river valley and its tributaries. It is normal for sightings to be reported in and around Edmonton, even during the daytime. Coyotes have a natural fear of humans however some people provide food either deliberately or unintentionally.
Some coyotes learn that humans are a source of food and may lose some of their fear but there has never been a case here of coyotes attacking people. Coyotes eat a wide variety of foods and are considered to be versatile omnivores. They eat small rodents (mice, ground squirrels, hares); fruit (berries, apples), get into compost piles and have been known to take cats and small dogs.
Do not leave small dogs or cats in yards unattended for long periods of time especially if coyotes are active in the area. It is best to keep pets leashed at all times while walking in the river valley to ensure their safety.
Coyotes will protect their territories and denning areas against other canines (dogs) and will sometimes follow hikers and runners. Coyotes mating season begins in January/February and pups are born 63-65 days later (same as dogs). There is a high mortality rate in juveniles with up to 50% not surviving their first year.
If the coyote is being aggressive or threatening and it poses an immediate threat to the public the caller can call 311, the Edmonton Police Service (780-423-4567) or Fish & Wildlife (780-427-3574).
This is a rare occurrence so callers should be given as much information as possible to make informed decisions before calling in police or Fish & Wildlife.
If a coyote is badly injured and requires immediate attention and is not mobile call 311, Fish and Wildlife (780-427-3574) or Report a Poacher after hours. Call back up staff person for assistance.
Callers can be referred for more general information to the Coyote Information Line at 780-644-5744. This is a recording. There is also more information from the Urban Coyote Project
Here are a few simple things that can be done to discourage coyote habituation from edmontonurbancoyotes.ca
- When you encounter a coyote, act aggressive: Shout in a deep voice, wave your arms, throw non-edible objects towards the coyote, and make yourself look big while maintaining eye contact.
- Never run away. Like with most dogs, this behaviour makes them want to chase after you.
- Secure anything that could attract coyotes to your property (garbage, compost, birdseed, pet food, fallen fruit).
- Keep cats and small dogs indoors, and keep them on-leash in park areas.
- Never feed a coyote, either in person or by leaving food for it.
In order to co-exist with coyotes, it is crucial that we maintain and reinforce their natural fear of humans.
Our permit currently prohibits us to raise or rehabilitate coyotes.
Note: Please refer any orphaned coyote calls to staff for further assistance.
Most carnivore species stay with their parent(s) up to, and sometimes beyond, their first year.
Note: If a carnivore, such as fox, coyote, wolf, lynx or fisher, is thought to be injured or orphaned, please direct the call to staff. These calls need to be handled by staff in order for WILDNORTH to comply with our permit.
White-tailed Prairie Hares and Snowshoe Hares are common to Edmonton. White-tailed Prairie Hares (aka Jackrabbits) frequent pastures, cultivated grain fields, and in urban areas (schoolyards and parks). Snowshoe Hares prefer more wooded areas and are more likely to be found in the River Valley.
Baby hares are different from baby rabbits in that they are born precocial (fully furred, eyes open) and are able to eat on their own and hop around within days of birth. Typically, they are born in April, but they can be born earlier in the year and hares can continue to have young all summer long—even into September. Jackrabbits are more active at night.
Normal to be Alone & Still
It is a normal situation for a baby hare to be found alone. The mother only comes to feed her young once or twice and usually in the evening or night. The remainder of time her babies are left on their own.
The normal response to threat by the young hares is to freeze, but this does not mean they are tame! They are simply doing what their instinct instructs them to do. This protects them from their most feared predator, the hawk or owl. Staying still and blending in the grass is the perfect response to an avian predator!
Do Not Touch If Not Injured
Injury signs include: obvious wounds, external parasites, falling over.
If no injury exists, it is vital the hare be returned to where it was found! When the baby is in its normal environment, it is able to reunite with its mother at the appropriate time and place.
If the caller feels it is in an unsafe area, such as on a road or in a construction site, it can be put back in the nearest safe, quiet, and preferably grassy spot. Mother hares will be able to find their young within a block of where she left them.
The mother will not reject her young if they have human scent. Human scent, however, may attract predators and so the baby hare should be rubbed down with grass before being returned.
Baby hares do very poorly in captivity. It is completely unnatural for hares to be raised in captivity. They are a prey species, so they are often food for other animals. Therefore, they die very quickly and unexpectedly. Worldwide, in captivity, baby hares have a 1% chance of survival and of being released back into the wild.
If the caller has had a baby hare in their care for several days and it has been eating, the hare can still be returned to the area it was found. If the hare is not doing well, instruct the caller to admit to the wildlife hospital.
If caller has successfully raised a hare to over 12 weeks of age, instruct the caller to release in the area it was found if possible or contact staff for a suitable release site.
Red Squirrel and Flying Squirrel babies are very rarely abandoned by their mothers unless she is hurt or dead. If the nest site has been destroyed, the mother will move them to another nest site. A mother has more than one nest site, so she will move her babies whenever she feels they are threatened at a particular location or if the nest becomes infested with fleas.
If the caller has found a baby squirrel(s) on the ground that are still fuzzy or eyes closed, check to feel if they are warm or cold. If warm, please ask them to wait and watch for the return of the mother. She may be in the process of retrieving her young to move to another nest.
If after an hour or so, there is still no sign of the mother, the babies should be collected, kept warm in a small box with fleece and set on a heating pad on low and brought to the wildlife hospital or rehab centre as soon as possible.
You can determine whether or not the squirrel is a baby generally by their oversized heads, which not in proportion to the rest of their body. They also have short fur.
Do Not Feed
The caller should not attempt to feed them as baby squirrels can often aspirate (inhale) this food, possibly causing respiratory infection and damage. If they are unable to bring the squirrels in right away, please inform staff for additional information on caring for the babies until they can be brought in.
Deer Fawns & Moose Calves
Note: Please refer all deer fawn and moose calf calls directly to staff. These calls need to be handled by staff to comply with the requirements of our permit.
Notes for Staff:
Fawns are usually born in late May and into June. A doe can give birth to one, two, or three fawns. Fawns can stand and walk within 20 minutes of birth. They are born a reddish-brown colour with white spots, which provides them camouflage. Newborn fawns have no discernible scent which decreases their chance of being spotted by a predator.
It is normal in the first two weeks of life for the fawn to be alone for the majority of the day, usually cached or curled up sleeping in the grass or forest. The doe returns to feed under cover of low-light or darkness. This added safety ensures she does not draw attention to herself or the fawn until the fawn is older and stronger and able to outrun most predators.
Twenty-four hours of monitoring from afar will reveal if the fawn is being cared for. The doe is generally within hearing distance of her fawns, but white-tailed deer are known to be extremely skittish and will not show themselves to humans even if their fawn is being picked up and is bawling.
Fawns are often not able to run well enough to evade predators until they are about two weeks or more of age. Until then, their inborn response to threat is to freeze (remain perfectly still).
When Do Fawns Need Help?
- When the fawn’s mother is known to be dead (fawn is standing beside a dead doe).
- The fawn has obvious injuries.
- The fawn is lying in or near the road and is not trying to leave. If this is the case, the fawn can be placed off the road in tall grass or in a woodlot and monitored from afar.
- If a fawn has been collected due to lack of information and the doe is not known to be dead, the fawn can be returned immediately to the area where it was found if it is within 24 hours of being taken. After 24 hours, the doe’s milk will dry up and she will be unable to care for her young.
A skin turgor test can be done on the fawn by gently pinching the animal’s skin on the back, releasing it, and counting. The skin of a well-hydrated baby should return to its original shape within one second. If the skin does not slip back into place but remains tented for longer, it may require additional care. Consult with the supervisor on staff for advice.
Porcupines are nocturnal. Female porcupines gestate for 210 days and give birth to one precocial (fully furred, eyes open) porcupette, usually in May. The porcupette’s birth weight is approximately 400 grams. The quills on its back and tail harden quickly after birth, typically within 24 hours.
The porcupette will spend much of its first six weeks of life hiding in small cavities of tree trunks, hollow bases of trees, rock crevices or in other select hiding places on the ground. The female will often be found in a nearby tree, feeding and sleeping. They come together again at night for feeding sessions.
Porcupettes begin eating on their own fairly soon after birth but can nurse from their mother for up to three months. Females will stop producing milk within 48 hours if separated from their young. Porcupettes are fairly vulnerable unless they hide or until they begin climbing trees on their own. A baby porcupine by itself is not unusual, though they should be hiding.
If a porcupette is suspected to be orphaned, ask the caller to monitor the baby into the night to see if a mother returns. Since porcupines are nocturnal, late evening and into night will be when the baby is fed.
If after monitoring the mother has not returned, the young should be taken to the wildlife hospital or the rehab centre as soon as possible for further care.
Note: If you receive a call about an injured or orphaned baby skunk, please advise staff so the call can be handled according to our permit requirements.
Skunks mate in late February to early March and young are born in a den in mid-May, after a gestation period of 62 days.The average litter size is 5 or 6.
Skunks are born blind, and deaf and their distinct black and white colour pattern is clearly defined. At three weeks of age, they are fully furred and begin to open their eyes and crawl about.At four weeks of age, they can assume the defensive position and by 5-7 weeks they are very playful and can first emit musk.
The female is usually with the young unless she is out feeding.Once the young are mobile, they are with her constantly. They are fully weaned at 6-7 weeks (late summer), at which time they leave the den to follow their mother on her evening forages. When winter approaches, they will hibernate with their mother.
Skunks are primarily nocturnal, and they begin gathering material for winter beds and begin hibernating in November to December during the first cold spells.Females den with their young in community dens with other females and their young. Home range is about 10 acres.
Alberta has nine species of bats occurring in the province. In the Edmonton and surrounding areas, we typically see Big Brown Bats, Little Brown Bats, Silver-haired Bats and occasionally Hoary Bats.
Bat migration begins in mid to late August.Little Brown Bats are travelling to hibernaculum. Silver-haired, Long-eared, Hoary bats are leaving the province to go south. Big Brown Bats are coming into the city! Big Brown Bat calls will continue into November.
If a bat is found on the ground, please advise the caller not to handle it. Bats should never be handled with bare hands. Bats are considered to be a Rabies vector species though incidence of rabies in Alberta is rare. Bats can be gently nudged into a container with a piece of cardboard. Plastic hamster boxes work well. Bats can escape through very small holes!
Bats should be brought to the wildlife hospital as soon as possible for assessment. Many of these bats are evaluated and released again in a better location to continue their travels.
If a bat is found hanging from a wall especially dark brick walls that absorb the heat from the sun. Do not disturb them but allow them the day and evening to disappear.
Window strikes can occur at any time of year; however, there seems to be peak times that coincide with spring, fall migration, and the winter.
If someone calls about a bird that has recently hit a window, please ask the caller to place the bird in a cardboard box and keep it in a quiet, dark space for two hours. Sometimes, when a bird hits a window, it is merely stunned and needs time to recuperate. It also needs a safe place to protect it from predators, such as cats and dogs.
If the bird is showing no obvious sign of injury, such as an injured wing or blood on its beak, then after a couple of hours if the bird has perked up, the caller can take the bird outside and place it on the ground and see if it flies away. If, after encouragement, the bird does not fly away, it should be placed back in the box and taken to the wildlife hospital.
Typically, when birds hit windows, they have a clavicle or coracoid injury (chest injury) or traumatic brain injury. With cage rest and assessment by one of WILDNorth’s vets, they are often able to recover after a couple of weeks.
Preventing Window Strikes
If a caller wants tips on how to prevent window strikes, or if you have received a call about a bird that has hit a window, please encourage them to take steps to prevent this.
Birds usually have acute vision so objects that create unfamiliar patterns of light and movement can be used to deter them. Breaking up the reflection in the window is key to preventing window strikes.
- Buy CollidEscape film (www.flap.org). available at Wild Birds Unlimited or Wild Bird General Store.
- Ribbon or Mylar film/tape is highly reflective and can be hung outside of the window.
- Try vertical stripes of thin dark tape across the entire window.
- Reflective pin wheels or CDs hung on string in front of the window.
- Bird decals can be placed on the window. (Silhouette of falcon/hawk/owl)
- Close curtains.
- Locate feeders within 3 feet or more than 30 feet from the window.
Male Robins striking windows repeatedly
In spring male robins are notorious for flying repeatedly into windows. They see their own reflection and interpret it as a rival male bird in their territory. They attack the supposed rival male in an attempt to scare it away. People often assume the bird is trying to get into the house, but if proper prevention is in place, they can deter this from happening. This behaviour is usually short term. Sometimes, the entire window must be covered temporarily with paper on the outside until the behaviour ceases.
Buy CollidEscape film (www.flap.org). available at Wild Birds Unlimited or Wild Bird General Store.
Animals in Buildings
If given enough exits, animals are usually desperate to leave on their own, if possible. Birds tend to fly to the highest spots, making it tricky to capture them. They often have to be chased around long enough to exhaust them so they can be caught and released.
If all the lights can be turned off and all doors and windows opened, the bird will see the light from the exits and will usually head toward the light.
Talk to staff about specific situations to brain-storm solutions. Rescue team may need to be dispatched.
Animals in Chimneys
If the bird is near the bottom of the chimney, it cannot fly back up to get out. Instruct the caller to clean out the fireplace and then open the damper to allow the bird to come down into the fireplace. Place a sheet or pillowcase over the opening so the bird cannot fly out into the room. If possible, close up the room and only open all exterior windows and doors to allow the bird to leave. A small light in the fire pit may encourage the bird to come down.
European Starlings and House Sparrows are the most common birds to come into chimneys, but tree nesting ducks, flickers, and small owls have also been known to do so.
If the bird has been in the chimney for a few days before release, it should be transported to the wildlife hospital for assessment and care.
Squirrels do not often fall down chimneys, and when they do, they can usually get out on their own. If they can’t, lower a thick rope down from the top of the chimney. The squirrel can then use this to climb out.
A chimney cap can be bought and installed. These can be specially made or bought at hardware stores or online.
Domestic Cat Attacks
Cat attacks are a leading cause of injury to wildlife, especially young wildlife such as fledgling birds. Cats carry bacteria harmful to other animals on their teeth and claws.
Animals that have been suspected to have been attacked by a cat, brought in by a cat or obviously injured by a cat should be brought to the wildlife hospital as soon as possible for treatment.
Predation by Cats
Studies have shown that outdoor cats kill hundreds of millions of wild animals each year in the United States. Since these studies are based on confirmed kills, the numbers are likely to be much lower than the actual number. Entire wild bird populations have been wiped out due to predation from outdoor cats and others are now at risk.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
Outdoor cats face many dangers themselves. Indoor cats live much longer than outdoor cats and have much healthier lives. Death, cars, poisoning, diseases, predation, human abuse, and parasites are only a few of the risks to outdoor cats. Cats can still enjoy the great outdoors while on a supervised halter walk or with the addition of a lovely outdoor cat enclosure.
Outdoor Cat Enclosure
Build an outdoor enclosure for cats where they can enjoy the sounds and smells of outside, but without harming the local wildlife population. Refer to Nature Canada’s Cats and Birds program pamphlets.
Animal/Human Conflict Situations
The most effective strategy for preventing or mitigating conflicts with wildlife is to prevent physical access to the food or shelter source that attracted the animal. Animals fill a niche. If they find good food and shelter, they will stay. Removing food sources, not feeding pets outside, cleaning up yards around bird feeders will all assist in discouraging wildlife.
Damage to roofs is often caused by squirrels; however, a well-constructed roof is animal-proof. After time, though, roofs can develop weak spots where animals get in. Roofs should be checked by a professional every five years for signs of damage or weakness.
After ensuring that there are no animals in the roof or attic space, the entry point on the roof can be covered with a material called hardware cloth. It can be found in many hardware stores.
Dryer & Stove Vents
Vents are a favourite nest spot for birds, such as starlings and sparrows. Vents should be covered with properly fitted caps, which can be bought or made from 0.6cm/quarter-inch wire mesh. In the case of dryer vents, leave 1.2cm/0.5 inch gap at the bottom of the vent gap to allow lint to escape. Callers should consult with a specialist before covering their vents.
Many animals such as hares, skunks, foxes, and porcupines take refuge under decks. After ensuring no animals are underneath the deck, openings can be closed with wood or other building materials. Smaller gaps can be closed with hardware cloth.
In the case of animals that are able to burrow, further action can be taken and hardware cloth can be formed to make an L-shaped wire mesh footer.
Birds on Balconies
Birds, usually pigeons, will often nest on apartment balconies. The only permanent solution to prevent this is to put up bird netting around the entire balcony. Ideally, a specialist should be consulted to do this because, if not properly installed, birds could become entangled in the netting. Netting should be pulled tight and not loose, which could cause entanglement.
Other deterrents that can be used are:
- Buying an owl statue to scare away other birds. These can be bought at hardware stores and some owls are electronic and make noise to deter birds.
- Playing calls of predatory birds. For example, raptor calls can keep pigeons away.
Garbage attracts many different species. To prevent this, use sturdy, plastic garbage cans with secure lids. Companies have designed specific animal-proof garbage containers that can be used. Less secure garbage cans can be stored in a secure location, such as a garage or wooden box.
Protecting Trees & Plants
Individual plants can be covered by cloche covers or by clear plastic milk jugs with the bottoms cut out. Bulbs and roots can be protected by making an underground barrier around it using hardware cloth.
Tree trunks can be covered with tree wraps that are made of wire mesh. They can be bought at most garden centres. Heavy-duty wire can be wrapped around the tree if larger mammals such as beavers are in the area. The wrap should be 1 metre above the estimated highlight snow level.
Warehouses and Large Door Openings:
If birds are entering through large warehouse doors, door curtains specifically designed for warehouse doors (made of wide plastic strips) can be bought.
Please note this section is for general information only; more detailed information is available in the Toronto Wildlife Centre manual however, some callers may need to be referred to a Wildlife Management company such as Battle River Wildlife Management.
Our goal is to provide general information about the animal to see if the caller can live with the situation or encourage the animal to move on its own.
Note: Care should be taken when using these deterrent items from April through October, when mothers have young.
Mammals typically leave the den site on their own when the mother has finished raising them. If the caller is unable to tolerate the situation, most mammal mothers will move their young to a new den or nest site when they feel threatened.
The following deterrents can be used to keep animals away:
- Mammals strongly dislike urine or ammonia smells. Since urine is used by many animals to mark their territory, it is typically more effective than ammonia. Can try dog urine (borrow a dog from a friend or coyote urine (available to purchase at hunter/trapping stores).
- Another alternative is human scent on sweaty socks. These can be thrown underneath porches or decks to encourage animals to move.
- Apple cider vinegar has also been reported to work.
The following deterrents can be used to keep animals away:
- Human voices are a strong deterrent for mammals and a tuned-in radio can be placed in the area to discourage wildlife.
- Ultrasonic devices are reported to typically be unsuccessful.
The following deterrents can be used to keep animals away:
- Motion started sprinklers (can be found at hardware stores). A common brand name of this item is called Scarecrow
Birds have a very poor sense of smell; however, one substance called methyl anthranilate has shown some effect in working to deter birds, such as geese, from lawns. This chemical naturally occurs in concord grapes and is used as a food additive.
Note: This chemical should not be applied to ponds with known fish, reptiles, or amphibians living in them as this can be harmful to them.
Pre-recorded bird distress or predator calls can be effective. These recordings can be bought from hardware stores and garden centres.
Trapping & Relocating
Note: Trapping and relocating an animal is an inhumane practice.
Animals know intimately the details of their established surroundings. When relocated, they are placed in a highly stressful situation, making them more vulnerable to predation and starvation. They will have to fight it out with other animals that have already established the territory. They will have no food source stored. Moving an animal from one backyard to someone else’s rarely solves the conflict.
Look for ways to make the current location less ideal. Every environment has a carrying capacity (maximum number of animals it can adequately sustain). By removing animals, we could actually increase the carrying capacity as nature tries to fill the gap.
Since trapping and relocating is most common during the spring and summer, this is the time when most young are orphaned, something that is discovered too late or not at all.
Even if an adult and her babies are relocated together, the stress placed on the mother will interfere with her ability to care for her young in new surroundings. Using less forceful ways of encouraging animals to leave will benefit both the caller and the animal.
Please refer to the Toronto Wildlife Centre Manual for information about specific animals.
Within Edmonton City limits, call 311 and ask for Animal Control or By-law. Provide the specific location (address or appropriate co-ordinates). The City will only pick up deceased animals on public property.
Note: WILDNORTH does not pick up dead wildlife.
If it is a larger animal within City limits, such as a moose or deer, ask caller to contact Fish and Wildlife 780-427-3574.
Many people believe that woodpeckers kill trees, but this is not true. Woodpeckers use their strong beaks to chip holes into dead or dying trees to feed on the bugs that are breaking down the already decaying wood. Woodpeckers also excavate nesting holes in live trees, but they use a weakened area of the tree, one that has been infected by disease or fungus, where the wood is softer and easier to remove.
In the spring, if a woodpecker is making nonstop noise by knocking on your favourite tree, please be patient. The woodpecker is not trying to kill your tree; he is trying to attract a mate.
Many people believe that porcupines can throw their quills at you, but this is not true. Porcupines have approximately 30,000 barbed quills on their back and tail. They are slow moving creatures so they need this extra protection against predators.
When a predator approaches, the porcupine turns its back to the predator and puffs up. If the predator gets too close, the porcupine will swat with its tail. Once the quill-filled tail reaches the predator’s skin, the barbs on the quills hold on to the predator and quills come out of the porcupine. Quills can take anywhere from ten days to six months to grow back.
Human Scent on Wildlife Babies
Many people think that if you touch a baby hare or baby bird, the parents will no longer care for them. This is not true. Baby hares are born with very little scent. This helps them hide from predators. The mother leaves her babies alone, except for dusk and dawn feedings, so that her scent does not attract predators to her babies.
If someone picks a baby hare up thinking that it is orphaned, and then puts it back once they realize the hare should be on its own, the mom will come back and feed it. We suggest you rub the baby hare with grass to remove the human scent. This will help protect the baby hare from predators such, as cats and dogs, that are attracted to human scent. The mother hare will feed her babies even if she detects human scent.
Did you know that most birds have a very poorly developed sense of smell? If a baby bird falls out of its nest and you pick it up and place it back in, the parents will continue to care for that baby and not even notice your scent. We suggest using a towel to pick up a baby bird to place it back in the nest so it does not get human scent on it and attract a predator, such as a cat or dog.
Animals We Cannot Rehabilitate
Adult Deer & Moose
We do not have resources to rehabilitate injured adult deer or moose. These large animals are dangerous to handle especially when injured and must be sedated to be transported or treated. We too are distressed to hear about injured deer or moose. If they are still mobile ask the caller to monitor the situation. If the animal goes down and can’t get up again, Fish & Wildlife should be contacted for humane euthanasia.
Our permit does not allow us to rehabilitate skunks injured skunks. We can however, take in orphaned skunks for care..
Note: Please refer all adult skunk calls to staff for further assessment.
Bears, Cougars, Wolves, Bobcats, Lynx, etc.
Our permit does not allow us to raise or rehabilitate large carnivores.
Note: Any call about a large carnivore should be directed immediately to staff so they can handle the call according to our permit requirements.
Since 1989, WILDNORTH has helped thousands of birds and small mammals receive proper medical treatment with the ultimate goal of returning these wild animals to their natural habitat. WILDNORTH is the only wildlife shelter in the Edmonton Capital Region that treats all bird species and small mammals.
WILDNORTH is a registered non-profit society that relies on private and corporate donations. We are able to provide tax receipts for donations over $20. A Volunteer board of directors administers the society. We have been incorporated as a society since January 1989.
Hospital & Rehabilitation Service Goals
WILDNORTH has several goals.
- To provide excellent care and management of all injured and orphaned wildlife in order to release them back to the wild to continue their life
- To work with wildlife in Edmonton and surrounding areas, WILDNORTH receives annual permits from the Alberta Government, Fish and Wildlife Division, and the Canadian Government, Canadian Wildlife Service. We are legally obligated to follow both provincial and federal laws. Wildlife is the property of the Crown and no one can keep wildlife captive unless they have been given appropriate permits to do so.
- WILDNORTH is a member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitators Council and adheres to the Wildlife Rehabilitators Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
12515-128 Street NW Edmonton, Alberta T5L 1C9
WILDNORTH Contact Information
The shelter is located west of Edmonton on an acreage to the east of Spruce Grove. Directions to our shelter for drop-offs can be found on our website. The wildlife rehabilitation facility is NOT set up as a Public facility. Since this site is used for the recuperation of injured wildlife, we do not allow viewing or touring by the general public as this would be unduly stressful for the patients.
The hospital is located at 12515-128 Street NW in Edmonton, which is the former City of Edmonton Animal Control building.
If a caller is interested in Volunteering with WILDNORTH, please ask them to go to the website and read through the Volunteer section.
They can also e-mail email@example.com if they have additional questions.
We accept donations of cash, cheques or goods in kind. Donations can be made at the Wildlife Hospital or on-line at www.wildnorth.ca Monthly donors are encouraged!
Cash or cheques donations can be mailed directly to:
12515-128 Street, Edmonton, AB T5L 1C9
On-line donations through Canada Helps or Sumac: www.wildnorth.ca
To donate an item, please ask people to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check our wishlist on our website: www.wildnorth.ca
Items to donate that are not on our wishlist should be approved first by staff first.
Thank you for being a Helpline Advisor. Please never hesitate to call if you have any questions.