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Spring time is busy time

This is the first chance I’ve gotten to sit down and say hello to you critter fans. We’ve had a busy spring!  Back in March, we received some egrets and black-crowned night herons from the Aquarium in Virginia Beach. After a quarantine period, we placed them on display in the outdoor coastal aviary. The egrets are rather magnificent and elegant with their long ,showy, snow white plumes that swoop off of the top of their heads. Look for a medium sized bird that is white in color and has a tall thin outline. As for the black-crowned night herons, look for a small stocky bird that’s dark gray on it’s back and light gray on it’s chest, with a large black swath of feathers on top of the head. These birds have deep red eyes that watch from the tree tops as you look for them in the coastal plains aviary. Like the egrets, these birds have a small crest of white feathers that swoop along their back. Although they aren’t quite as elegant looking as the egrets, they have their own beauty about them.
We’ve also had some calls about young animals that seem to be lost from their parents. As a friendly reminder, remember that many of these young animals do not necessarily need human intervention. Wild parents of wild youngsters will leave their babies to go out and forage. Much of the time, they come back after a little while. Believe it or not, many aren’t truly orphaned, but are just waiting for their parents to come back. They will be on the ground away from the nest and fussing so that the parents can hear them when they come back.  Although the baby may look abandoned, most likely the parent is nearby keeping an eye on it. Give it some time and observe from a distance so that the parent is not too frightened by your presence to come back to take care of the youngster. If the youngster looks weak or tired, is not making a fuss, and is not moving around much, it may need some assistance. The Museum is not set up to take in a lot of rehab animals, but we do have a list of contacts who may be able to help you. Occasionally, we may take in an animal on a case by case basis, but that’s only after we have evaluated whether or not that youngster can be released. Be aware, especially at this time of the year, that the most common youngsters that are found are baby birds, or fledglings.  These babies are at the point where they are on the ground learning how to become and adult bird.  I refer to them as teenager birds, as they are technically out of the nest but not quite on their own yet.  This is a normal stage of growth while they are learning to fly and how to gather food.  They will hop and waddle along the ground giving the impression that they are injured, but in fact, they most likely are not. The parent birds will go away to forage and leave the fledgling alone at times.  Sometimes, the fledglings are in an area where they are exposed to hazards such as cats or dogs or inquisitive children.  If this is the case, it’s quite alright to move the baby to a more secluded area, such as some bushes or shrubs that might be in the vicinity.  If the youngster is scooped up and moved to a safer area close by, the parents won’t abandon it if it’s been touched by a human, contrary to popular belief.  Many birds don’t have a well developed sense of smell, so human scent on the lost baby won’t really matter to the parents. Don’t be alarmed if you hear the adult birds fussing while you are moving the baby.  That shows that they are nearby and will come check on the youngster when they feel it’s safe to do that. After it’s been placed in a safer area, it’s best to leave that area so that the parent can resume taking care of the baby without interruptions.

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