Great Horned Owl we rescued this winter in Bucks County. Unfortunately, it didn't survive, but it was a great learning experience!
Animals, birds, Climate Change, conservation, Endangered Species, The Art of Ecology, Wildlife Behavior

To Rescue or not to Rescue? That is the question…

This Great Horned Owl was found here in Bucks County. Weak and underfed, we took him to a rehabilitation center but unfortunately, he didn't survive. He was beautiful to observe though!
This Great Horned Owl was found here in Bucks County. Weak and underfed, we took him to a rehabilitation center but unfortunately, he didn’t survive. He was beautiful to observe though!

If you’re reading this chances are you love animals! Me too! However, as animal lovers, we need to know how to best protect and care for them, especially in the wild.

This question “To rescue or not,” is a difficult one to answer. Short answer –  if it’s human caused (ex. A bird hits a window or you cut down a tree and discover a squirrel nest, etc…) then yes, try to save it! Otherwise, allow nature to take its course.

That’s the hard part… Nature is intricately connected. Predators need to eat. Carrion-eating animals need dead animals to eat. Decomposing animals benefit the soil by adding valuable nutrients. They help fertilize new plant growth that gets eaten by animals low on the food chain. EVERYTHING, life and death, is connected. It may be hard to witness or let happen, but sometimes, allowing an animal to die is what’s best for nature as a whole.

Now, there are circumstances that do call for rescuing, as mentioned above.

A few indirect circumstances are habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. Yes, the earth does go through changes to its climate, but human actions have accelerated this change, preventing a lot of animals and plants from adapting to this natural change. Therefore, I believe that protecting species that are threatened due to climate change or habitat destruction need our protecting.

If you see an injured, sick, or strangely behaving animal in the wild, here are some steps to ensure it’s overall well-being. 

*If you rescue animals, consider your safety! Be aware of your surroundings and wear gloves. Scared animals are dangerous animals.
*If you rescue animals, consider your safety! Be aware of your surroundings and wear gloves. Scared animals are dangerous animals. This bird here died after colliding with a window. It was a good opportunity to learn more about this amazing species up close without worrying about scaring the animal before placing it in the woods for an animal to eat.
  1. Analyze the situation – is it caused by nature (ex.- predator got it) or humans?
    1. Nature – Leave it alone! Take the moment to appreciate that their nutrients will return to the soil to benefit others.
    2. Humans – Now, answer the question – “What animal is it” and “What happened?”
      1. Deer – is it a fawn? Chances are, if you see a fawn all alone, it’s supposed to be there and removing it will reduce it’s chance of survival! Mommy deer leave their babies in one spot for days and tell it “Don’t move, I’ll be back.” The baby listens to mom (shocking, I know…). If it moves, predators are more likely to see it. Mom goes off to find food and will return to get her baby.
      2. Songbirds – If you need to take a songbird to a wildlife rehabilitator, put it in a towel in a small cardboard box. Cover the box and keep it in the dark until the animal gets to the rehabilitator. Do not feed it.
        1. Did it hit a window? Do not move it until you are sure that it is actually injured! Sometimes, as one can imagine, they get a little dazed and stunned and need 15-30 minutes to regain their senses and fly off.
        2. Is it a baby (fluffy feathers that might stick out at angles with open eyes) found at the base of a tree? It may be a fledgling. As the baby grows up, the parents will try to get it to fly and this may just be an unsuccessful attempt. Let it be.
      3. Raptors– Cover it’s head and eyes. Place the bird gently in a towel and in a large box and keep it in the dark until they get to the rehabilitator. Do not feed it. Remember, owls are nocturnal, so if you see one flapping around on the ground during your 12pm lunch break, this is not normal behavior. Observe it before rushing to action, though!
        1. Is it bleeding and you can’t find out why? It may have been poisoned accidentally. Putting out rat poison to get rid of the mouse population in your cupboards is doing more harm than good. The rodents don’t die right away and raptors will gladly go for the easy-to-catch dinner. The raptor will digest the food, poison and all. Using snap traps or sticky traps are better.
        2. Is it dazed and not able to fly very far? It may have been clipped by a car or it could just be a weak hunter and natural selection is taking place. Observe the bird and to make a wise decision before rushing to action.
      4. Waterfowl – Is it’s leg injured or did you witness it flapping about in the water? Leave it! A Snapping Turtle probably was looking for lunch.
      5. Turtles – If it’s in the middle of the road, don’t take it anywhere except for the the side of the road that it was trying to get to.

Those are only a limited number of animals that you may come across! Please, think first before you take anything out of the environment! If you do decide to rescue it, click here for a list by county of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in PA.

Wish that you could save all of the animals and keep them with you? Don’t worry! Keep these photos instead! Click here to go to Product page and use these photo names when placing your order, or click here to get to my Etsy shop!

  • Great Horned Owl Portrait in the Sun
  • Owl in the Water
  • PPE during Rescues


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