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Spring means wildlife babies!

April 23, 2017
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

When I began to write this week, I looked back at a previous column on wildlife babies. I started that column announcing the birth of our first grandchild. It struck me that I have gotten lax in my old age. We now have five grandchildren so I should have had four more announcements in this column. I have written about my grandkids before. The most recent is little Will who joined his parents our daughter, Shannon and son-in-law Tyson on December 15.

We were fortunate to look at Will's latest pics just this morning and the next youngest grandson, Rhett's, one year pics a few days ago. If you see me on the street I will be happy to share a pic or two!

Is there anything cuter than a baby? In nature, even pretty disgusting looking adult species of wildlife seem to have young that are cute. The exception I might have to that would be those birds that begin life blind and mostly naked. They might qualify as pretty close to ugly. Pigeons and robins are two examples that come to mind. In their case, feathers really do eventually help a bunch.

Over the years in this career, I have been blessed to hold a number of wildlife babies. In most cases I have been just the brief helping hand back into the nest or den.

Following the storm that passed through the county last Saturday evening, there was a call into the office answering machine concerning three unfortunate squirrels that had landed on a patio along with what was left of their nest. I didn't get the message until I stopped by to check the messages that Sunday afternoon.

The caller told me that Sunday morning, the mother had shown up. Placing the carrier out on the deck, they watched mama take the babies one at a time to a new home. Just the way we want the story to end. Many times it does have a happy ending. Other times it may not. But that is nature taking its course.

Wood ducks seem to quite often lose a member or two of the brood on their way to the creek or pond. Of course, this is one of the rules of survival of the fittest. But the lost little balls of fluff are easily noticed by anyone within earshot. Those guys are loud when they can't see mama!

Calls to the office have included baby snapping turtles and garter snakes. Young skunks and cottontail rabbits. And more deer fawns than I can count.

I'll end with the reminder that generally wildlife babies aren't orphaned. Lock up the dog or cat. Go back in the house and give mom a chance to come back and take junior (or juniors)off to safety. If that doesn't work, feel free to give me a call for a suggestion. Many times my recommendation of placing a temporary cardboard box up into a tree a few feet off the ground will have positive results.

A friend of mine several years ago discovered a barn swallow nest that had fallen to the floor of the shed. Remembering that suggestion, he tacked a cool whip container into the original nest location and the parents raised the babies to fledging!



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