Be a Hero for Wildlife

Category: Spring 2019, Wild About Wildlife 75 0

Six ways you can help keep wild animals safe

Adult double-crested cormorant in San Diego, California

Surviving in the wild is hard enough as it is. But we humans make it all the more difficult by harming wild animals with our landscaping tools, fishing lines, vehicles and even windowpanes. With a bit of care, we can coexist more peacefully with our beastly brethren. Here, Project Wildlife Animal Care Supervisor Vanessa Potter shares some things you can do to help keep animals safe.

Dispose of Fishing Lines and Hooks
Fish-eating birds like San Diego’s copious cormorants and gulls tend to get tangled in wayward fishing lines and hooks. “If you’re fishing, be responsible and dispose of those properly,” Potter says.
Be Cautious When Trimming Trees or Landscaping
Nesting season in San Diego is year-round. Because bird nests are intentionally inconspicuous, tree trimming can lead to inadvertent destruction. If you find a nest that’s still intact in a limb you cut down, reattach it to the tree, then watch it for an hour to make sure the mother finds it. If the nest is destroyed, replace it with a one-pint berry basket lined with paper towels, and attach to the tree using zip or twist ties. Contrary to myth, birds will not abandon nests with human scent on them.
A songbird fledges and leaves the nest one month after its egg is laid, so you won’t have to wait longer than that if you’re keen on landscaping a nest site. It’s not just trees, either: In San Diego, birds nest on buildings, shrubs, the ground—pretty much everywhere. 
Curtail Window Strikes
Birds sometimes fly into windowpanes that reflect the surrounding habitat, or because feeders are placed too close to windows. “Break up the image by closing curtains or using a stick-on film that they’ll see,” Potter says.
Let Some Birds Be
Songbirds spend the first few days out of the nest on the ground, where they build up their muscles and practice flying. People sometimes mistakenly think young birds are injured or need help. Most likely, they’re fine and the parents are nearby. Give young birds space so as not to scare off the mother.
Check Your Lawn for Rabbits
Cottontail rabbits nest in shallow indentations on the surface of the ground. Take a good look before mowing the lawn!
Never Feed Wildlife
People do more harm than good when they feed wildlife. Don’t risk feeding an animal something inappropriate. 

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