a young bird receives care in the South Florida Wildlife Center (SFWC) nursery

Rescue or Abduction?

Most people genuinely want to help animals, especially orphaned wildlife, but removing infants from the wild often does more harm than good. Wildlife parents rarely abandon their young. If you don’t see a parent, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there — they may be off foraging for food or hiding from you.

Fortunately, animals who have fallen or been removed from their nests or dens can often be easily and safely returned. If you find one or more infants who appear to be orphaned, always contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or animal control agency before moving them. Mom and dad may be closer than you think!

Checklist for Action

Animals in these situations typically should be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator:

  • Animals with apparent injuries, such as bleeding, broken bones or injured wings
  • Animals “brought home” or otherwise captured by another animal
  • Animals who have been hit by a car, struck telephone wires or otherwise sustained injuries that may or may not be visible
  • Animals with a dead parent nearby

Otherwise, here are some basic tips for dealing with displaced juvenile wildlife. Note: Use caution and always wear protective gloves when handling any type of wildlife.

For more guidance, contact SFWC at 954-524-4302 ext. 10.

Download our If You Care Leave Them There Brochure


Baskets and even modified plastic jugs can be used as replacements for damaged nests.