New England Wildlife Center
Preserving New England's Wild Legacy
Orphaned Wildlife

What to do if you find a baby bird

What to do if you find a baby mammal

Baby Bunnies — Baby bunnies are commonly found in the spring and summer and assumed to be orphaned.  Actually, bunnies are rarely orphaned, and mom is usually hiding close by.  If you find baby bunnies, please read the House Rabbit Society’s Information page to find out what is the best thing to do for them.  More often than not this means leaving them where they are and keeping pets away.

There is nothing more adorable than a baby animal. They are so helpless and trusting of humans. It is hard to dissociate that orphaned animals are in fact wild and will grow up to be very self-reliant with the appropriate care.

It is highly discouraged that an untrained person attempt to hand raise an orphaned wild animal without a wildlife rehabilitation license. Not only is it a bad idea, but also it is illegal. These guidelines for feeding orphans are NOT designed to raise an orphan to adulthood, but rather to sustain an orphan for a few days before it can be transferred to a trained rehabilitator. An orphaned wild animal should ALWAYS be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where it can be hand-raised by a trained professional, socialized with members of the same species and ultimately released back into the wild.

It is always best to contact a knowledgeable professional prior to handling wildlife in order to make sure the animal truly needs care. Handling should only be done with leather gloves to prevent scratches.

If you would like more information please feel free to call the New England Wildlife Teaching Hospital at 781-682-4878 ext 113.

Other Rehabilitators — The MassWildlife webpage has an extensive list of wildlife rehabilitators located around the state.  Additionally, here is a list of local animal control officers.

**IMPORTANT ** —  Periodically throughout the year we reach our capacity for wild animals.  We have a very small paid staff and operate mainly on a volunteer basis.  When we feel we cannot safely care for more animals our only options are to recommend that wildlife be brought to other rehabilitators or to humanely euthanize them.  We have finite resources and no other options.  Be aware that there is no guarantee that we can accept wildlife on any given day.  If we have room and resources we will gladly accept it.  If we cannot accept it, please help us find someone who can care for the animal.



54 Comments to “Orphaned Wildlife”

  1. Brian Carroll says:

    Have a baby turkey, my shih tzu spooked the mother and she fled along with her babies. found one several hours later and there are a lot of predators around. Called the wildlife center but they are closed. Is there anything I can do to make sure this fledgling makes it through the night. It is in a high clear plastic with paper towels on the botom and a towel around the bird.
    Really need some immediate answers.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Brian, as long as the mother was unharmed you should leave the baby right where you found it. The mom should be able to find the baby again as long as you leave it in the same place as soon as possible.

  2. Alison Wells says:

    Hi, My husband found 5 baby rabbits on a dirt road in a wooded area down in Mattapoisett… we almost drove over them. They were sort of strewn about. They are very young, their eyes are still closed. There was a cat about 20 feet away watching them, we think she brought them out there. We don’t know whose cat it was. My husband took them home, they’re all alive and they’re snuggled together. What do we do?? He wouldn’t leave them with the cat there.
    Thank you!

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Alison, you can bring them in to us Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM. You can also find a list of alternative rehabilitators sorted by area on our website on the section dealing with what to do when you find a wild animal.

      • Alison Wells says:

        Thank you, we’re now stuck on whether we should return them to the spot we found them in case the mom comes back. I would definitely do it except for the involvement of the cat. I worry that there could be an injury or infection because of that. Is one option better than the other?
        Thanks again!

        • Katrina Bergman says:

          Hi Alison, that’s actually an excellent point to notice. I would normally suggest leaving baby animals within reach of their parents if it is at all a viable option, however cats have very dangerous parasites in their saliva that can kill small animals very easily. Even a small puncture wound can cause a deadly infection. I would suggest bringing them either to us or to an alternative rehabilitator if it is at all possible. You can call our front desk at (781) 682-4878 to make sure we have openings if you decide to bring them to us, as we are extremely full right now and are having trouble taking all the animals that are out there being orphaned or injured.

  3. Samantha Silverman says:

    Hello. Please help! I am only 15 and I can’t drive and my parents won’t do anything to help me but I found a dead opossum in the road. I wanted to give her some dignity, so I moved her out of the road and to the side. As I moved her, I found that there were two tiny babies clinging to her. They are still alive as of now but I don’t know what to do for them! My parents won’t let me help them because of possible diseases and allergies to fur. I have contacted a lot of people near me but no one can help them. Please! If there is anything you can do, it would be much appreciated! They are on the side of the road at the corner of Addison and Daniels in Franklin MA. I don’t know how long they have been there and I don’t know how much longer they can survive. Please help them!

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Samantha, unfortunately we cannot go and retrieve wildlife, but you can call the Animal Rescue League of Boston or your local Animal Control and they might be able to come and get them.

  4. Angela says:

    My father rescued 2 male orphaned baby squirrels lying near the street. After waiting almost a day for mom to return, my father decided to bring them home. They just opened their eyes today. They are in a large birdcage with bedding branches to climb, but they mostly sleep. They are being bottle fed with baby formula and given pedialite, every few hours. We also put the cage on a heating pad set on low under the cage. From this point on we have no idea what to do. Every site says to bring it to a wildlife rehab facility. I’d like to do this soon before we do something like fail in preparing them for a wildlife therefore compromise their future in the wild. WHERE CAN I BRING THESE BABY SQUIRRELLS BEFORE MY DAD TRYS TO MAKE THEM HIS PETS. I will drive anywhere, please help time ticking and my dad is bonding more and more everyday.
    – Angela

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Angela, it’s a very good idea to get them to a rehabber quickly. If you are near us, you can call us at (781) 682-4878 to check and see if we have room for more orphaned squirrels at that time, and if so we admit animals 10 AM – 2 PM Tuesday through Friday. If we are full, you can follow this url:

      and you will find a guide on how to handle found wildlife. I’m not sure where you are located, but we have links on this page under “Other Rehabilitators” that are sorted by MA districts. You can use these to find a wildlife rehabilitator near you. Good luck and best wishes.

  5. Alicia says:

    Hi I found 2 baby red ear slider turtles in our back yard (Pond Meadow is behind us.) I have no idea how to take care of a turtle at all! I feel bad for these 2 little guys & their shells are soft (one turtle worse than the other.) I cannot keep them & wouldn’t know how to anyway. Can I bring them to you? Maybe you can nurse them back to health & someone can adopt them or they can be put back in the wild? Thanks!

  6. These advices are so useful. Thank you! Few months ago I found a pigeon and it was hurt. I tried to help the little creature but in the end it died..I don’t know why =(

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      That must have been very sad Carmen =( It’s always difficult when an animal who you are trying to save dies. Unfortunately baby birds are especially difficult to help, and even at the center we still lose some. I’m glad you liked our page though, and thank you for taking the time to try to help wildlife!

  7. Donna Silva says:

    I found a tiny baby mouse yesterday on my basement floor all covered with cobwebs. I cleaned her/him off, kept her warm in wool sock, in a covered shoe box with holes, fed her 1 part goats milk with 2 parts water with eyedropper, or tried dipping new artist’s brush in the solution. I was able to get some into her but not a lot. Cleaned her off with warmed water, rubbed her belly to help with digestion, dried her off before putting her back into her”bed”. I lay the closed box(I have a cat in the house) on top of heating pad, low. She is still alive this AM but I was not able to get her to drink very much. Now sleeping. I see you aren’t open to take her. Help!!! What should I do! What can I feed her?

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Donna, I am sorry but the Center is off intake until September 10. There is a list of rehabbers on this site or you can also visit the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website too. You can call us in the morning at 781 682 4878 for help over the phone. Best of luck.

  8. Heather says:

    I should add that they have a tiny bit of fur and eyes are closed.

  9. Heather says:

    My dog dug up a baby mice nest yesterday. Two were still alive and separated this morning. I put them together in the nest I recreated but I don’t think the mother is coming back. Any hope for them? I tried giving them some water so far. Feel so bad!

  10. Kathy Assad says:

    I found 3 baby cotton tail bunnies. One has passed away and I am diligently trying to save the other two. The two survivors look healthier than the one that passed but they are not consuming the kitten formula or the water I concocted for dehydration as much as I would like. I think they have a great chance of survival if they were professionaly seen and brought back to normal compacity before being released to the wild. Can I bring these 2 bunnies to the center and if so, when? Their eyes are open and all fur at this point.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Kathy, Do you know if the mom is gone? Bunny moms only visit babies once a day early morning before sun up. If their eyes are open then they are already beginning to be independent of mom. Disturbing them makes the chance of their survival very low. The stress of captivity can kill them. Best thing to do is return them where you found them. If they are injured or ill you can bring them to the Center, otherwise, their best chance is in the wild. Very best of luck.

  11. April Drinkwater says:

    Hi, I rescued a baby Robbin that fell out of it’s nest on Saturday. Someone just told me about your program. It’s almost fully feathered, but not able to fly. I have cats and dogs. I’ve been feeding it and it’s doing fine, but think it would be better off with professionals. I see you are open 10-2 tues through fri. Can you take this baby?

    • Jack Banagis says:

      Hey April,
      Unfortunately we are currently operating at maximum capacity for baby animals and will not be able to admit any new babies until Thursday June 20th. We know this is frustrating as we would like to be able to take in all wildlife in need. There is a list on this website ( of other wildlife rehabilitators and you can also visit the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website. Very best of luck to you and the baby robin.

      • April Drinkwater says:

        I don’t think he is too far from being able to set free (he is really practicing trying to flying now) any advise on the best way to put him back outside (and not worry he will starve to death?) I work in Boston and just can’t take another day off.

        • April Drinkwater says:

          After doing more research, I realize how fledglings first leave and mama takes care of. So, don’t think this guy will be ready to just fly off and take care of himself. He would be an instant snack for my cats. So, if OK, I will plan to get him to you guys on Thursday.

          • Jack Banagis says:

            Hey April,
            We are still able to take the fledgling on Thursday yes! It is for the best that he comes here so that our staff is able to care for him until he is able to be released. Hope to see you soon, best of luck!

  12. Jill says:

    I found two small baby birds today in my yard. The nest looked like it was taken down by a stray cat. Could I bring them in to the wildlife center?

    • Jack Banagis says:

      Hello Jill,

      Yes we are currently able to take those two baby birds. Please come by during admission hours which are Tuesday – Friday 10 AM to 2 PM. Best of luck to you and the two baby birds.

  13. Julie Rosato says:

    Hi, My daughter found a baby groundhog. Apparently the mother and a sibling were injured or killed. She has brought this little guy home and we have him in a portable bunny cage in our shed. We’ve given him rabbit food, water hay to burrow in and last night he was a bit lethargic but looks vigorous today. His eyes are open and I think he is over 4-5 weeks old. I read a bit about him on line and am concerned about how we should precede. We don’t want him to get sick or worse. Could you contact me as to what we should do. Thanks, Julie Rosato

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hello Julie, Please call the New England Wildlife Center’s front desk at 781 682 4878 to see if we have room for the baby groundhog. Our hospital fills up very quickly. If you can’t get through – leave your name and number someone will get back to you. You can also email us at with you phone number if you would rather. There is also a list of wildlife rehabbers on this site. Best of luck helping the baby.

  14. susan govoni says:

    Hello, my cat brought home 3 baby bunnies this morning (uninjured). I followed her after and I think she got them from the next door neighbors yard. They have all there fur and look to be about 4 in. long. Can I bring them to rehab center?

  15. Renee says:

    Please help me, I am really at a loss. I found an orphaned woodchuck last night.I have been feeding it Esbilac Puppy formula. Everywhere I call is full or won’t take it because it isn’t injured. I have been only handling it to feed and try to stimulate for urination. Can you help? I am willing to make a donation to help with his/her rearing.

  16. lynn hawes says:

    Hello, we found a bay chipmunk on our back steps laying on its side. not looking so good. it was on the steps for a few hours. cold. lethargic. we put in shoe box with a towel. had kitten baby bottle. mixed water and some sugar. he drank a little. can now walk a bit and can moove around a little. put warm water bottle in shoe box. will take a few drops of water at a time then stops. would like to bring in seems young.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Lynn – Sure, we are open tomorrow for admissions starting at 10. From your description, it doesn’t sound that good for him. But we are here tomorrow if you need us. Best of luck.

  17. Ellen Dente says:

    Found mother and baby raccoons in attic. Mother and 4 babies trapped and brought to sactuary. One baby was left behind. Place that took mother said she and other babies have been released to wildlife and baby will never find it’s mother. Everyone I have called won’t take the baby. Any advise on who to call?

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      Hi Ellen, We’ll take the baby. We open tomorrow, Monday, at 10:00. Our address is 500 Columbian Street, South Weymouth, MA 781 682 4878. I know you left this on Friday, I hope it still helps. Best of luck.

  18. David I. says:

    July 26, 2012.
    I have 4 orphaned Carolina Wrens that are almost 2 weeks old. I obtained them yesterday July 25th, and have been feeding them every 1.5 hours sunrise to sunset. Today is day #2. So far, they are doing well. All the wild bird caregivers in my area are full, and are unable to take orphaned birds, and Tufts will only take injured birds. I tried to reunite them with their parents, but 48 hours had passed when I found the orphaned Carolina Wrens, and the adult wrens have split. How did I end up with them? I was unaware that a pair of Carolina Wrens were nesting inside the rim of the spare tire on the back outside of my van I had stored in the driveway for the past 2 months. Not knowing the nest and baby wrens were there, I had my van towed 10 miles from my home to a body shop to be repaired. My mechanic called me 48 hours later and told me he found a nest of chirping birds in my spare tire. I knew it had to be Carolina Wrens because I had seen the wrens go underneath my van over the past month…I thought they were just looking for spiders under my van…but it little did I know they had a nest in my spare tire.
    Okay…Now, today July 26th, I feed them every 1.5 hours with bits of earth worms, and I just bought wet organic dogfood with protein. The birds are doing great so far, but I have a spinal cord injury, and won’t be able to tend to them as much as I have been. I am willing to drive to Weymouth, or anyone else out there that you know will take these 4 Carolina Wrens. Please let me know what to do. I will keep checking back here for a reply for some direction. Thank you so much. – david.

  19. Carol STaszewski says:

    Page says there is a link to rehabilitators on this page but I can’t find it??? Please advise. I can’t reach anyone by phone either. Found box of baby birds in my apartment foyer…been here 2 days…please help.

    • Katrina Bergman says:

      hi carol, you can bring orphaned baby birds to us tomorrow between 10-2. you can also go to the mass fish and wildlife website for a list if you can’t find it, or call us again tomorrow. Leave your number if you can’t get through. We get thousands of phone calls but do our best to get back to people as quickly as we can. Thanks so much and best of luck.

  20. Karen says:

    Yesterday I came home and found a baby squirrel on my bottom step. Clearly, one of my cats had brought it home as a trophy as there was a small spot of blood by one of his shoulders. He was gasping so I scooped him up and held him close to me while I grabbed a kitten bottle and a box of kitten milk. He drank first from a syringe, but was able to take the bottle a bit. I have cats, some mice and a fish..I do not want a squirrel. I also don’t think that it’s proper to have a wild animal in my house. Is there a Squirrel rescue in North Eastern Massachusetts or Southern New Hampshire that would ensure this little guy will thrive? BTW the kitten milk seemed too thick for him so I watered it down a bit, but I am completely winging it at this point. Help.

    • NEWC says:

      Hi Karen,

      Its sounds like you are doing the right thing so far. There are rehabilitators in your areas – please see the link above under “Other Rehabbers”. This will help you find individuals that may be able to take it from you and are close by. At this point, the kitten milk replacer is okay for a few days until you can get it to a trained rehabber. But its won’t sustain it adequately long term. If you can’t find a rehabber close to you, please stay in touch as we may be able to take it if we have room. Hope this helps.

  21. Jeff says:

    I too have come upon some baby rabbits, well my dog did. And thankfully so, I was going to cut the grass. The nest is in the open as I have read that’s where they make a nest. I try not to disturb the nest but tried to make it so I could tell if the mother was returning to the nest, I think the dogs spooked her away for good. I haven’t been able to tell either way. They weathered the storm, but would hate for them to die after making it through that. Any thoughts on the situation besides leaving and waiting to see if the mother returns? I found them last Thursday and they seem to still have plenty of energy, they try hopping out of the nest when I have investigated their activity, no squeaking as if in distress. There are four of them. Thanks with any info.

    • NEWC says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Did you see the article posted above about baby rabbits? I know its tough to do, but the best thing you can do for a rabbit’s nest is leave it be and keep dogs and cats away from it. Baby rabbits do very poorly in a hospital setting because they are very, very fearful and refuse to eat. We always recommend that they be left in the wild.

  22. Deidre Scott says:

    I have a rabbits nest in my side yard. The mother rabbit has not been back to nurse the babies for a few days now. I have read the information on a couple of sites that says to get in touch with someone if I truly feel they have been abandoned. Where should I go, and to whom shall I turn, would hate to see these little ones die. Thank you for your help

    • NEWC says:

      Hi Deidre,

      There is a link on this page to a list of rehabillitators that are located in your area. You can also bring them to us if you like. We are only open to take wildlife from 10AM-2PM on Tuesday through Friday when our wildlife veterinarian is here.

      I would be very cautious about disturbing this nest, though. It can be very difficult to tell if mom is still coming to nurse the babies as she only comes in the early morning and late at night. Their eyesight and hearing are far better than ours too, so odds are if you can see the nest she can see you and will be unlikely to return to the area if she feels unsafe. Baby bunnies are extremely hard to hand raise in captivity, so we try to keep them in the nest as much as possible.

  23. Courtney says:

    The rain/storm had some very high wind speed today and as a result two baby robins fell out of their nest onto the ground. They were in the middle of the road so we moved them to under their tree. The parents do not appear to be coming back to feed them. What should be done?

    • Andrew Cartoceti, DVM says:

      Hi Courtney,

      If you are sure that the parents are no longer caring for them, you should bring them to a licensed rehabilitator to raise them. You are welcome to bring them to us, or another rehabber that may be closer to you. There is a link to a list of rehabbers on this page.

  24. ginny wilson canney says:

    mother turkey and 6 nestlings in yard, cat attacked mom, chicks scrambled. mom ok, but left 2 of the chicks behind. 6 hours later mom had not returned. put 1 in a protected, outdoor space, but brought it in last nite (12 hours later). it is under the lamp (doing ok, fed it earth worms this morning). the other was found this morning very cold(24 hours after mom left). took it in the house also. this one not doing as well, but hopeful. we are looking for mom, but this is the first time we saw a turkey in our yard, im sure she doesnt live there. we are happy to and able to care for them and monitor them for a while, but are there any hopes of returning to wild? what can i do at this time?

    • Andrew Cartoceti, DVM says:

      Hi Ginny,

      It sounds like you did everything just right but mom must have been too scared to come back. At this point, I think it is wise to bring it to a rehabilitator, either us or someone who might be closer to you. There is a link to rehabilitators around the state on this page.

  25. yesterday i found a baby bird, unknows species,i take that back, it has blue wing tips and some of the skin on its underside is blue. animal rescue and i placed bird in a tree where i found it on the ground but could not find nest anywhere so it is in a solid container wedged between 2 tree branches. it survived the night and when i checked on it this morning it was very hungry, head tilted back with the beak open. i went to cvs and got a very this medicine dropper and soaked the bread in water(very wet and mushy) and the bird then opened up and i very gently fed the bird. i watched as the bird swallowed it down and have been systmatically feeding it when it chirps and extends and opens its mouth. the bird seems very active and viable. what can i do??????
    what can i feed it?? I am afraid with the threat of thunderstorms that the plastic container won’t drain fast enough for the rain water to drain out and the bird will drown. next steps?????PLEASE

    • Dr. Cartoceti says:

      If mom hasn’t come back by now its probably truly orphaned. You should bring it in to us or another rehabilitator to raise as soon as you can. Keep feeding it in the meantime and keep it warm and dry.

  26. Katrina Bergman says:

    Hello Brian, Yes the Center can fill up quickly, but I promise you we do the best we can. We are staffed mostly by volunteers. As you know, we receive no government funds, we aren’t part of a large university or large humane animal organization. We are a small group of neighbors that got together to try to provide a medical response to ailing wild animals and to provide education to children and the public. Our core mission is to serve animals and people – through care, community and education. Dr. Adamski is working with our friends at Cape Wildlife, Tufts and other wildlife rehabbers throughout the state to build a stronger network of people permitted to care for wild animals. To that end, the Center’s veterinarians run a wildlife rehabilitation course and has worked with the State, so that we can proctor the exam. Only the State can permit people to become wildlife rehabilitators, but by working with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, together we can grow a stronger response for wild animals that needlessly suffer. We estimate there are millions of wildlife each year that suffer because of the needs and actions of people in our State alone. This is a State-wide problem that needs a State-wide response, that involves government and private funded boots on the ground, policy changes and public engagement for real change to occur for ailing wildlife. For our part at NEWC, we are fighting on the front lines, doing the best we can with little resources. I welcome any phone calls at 781 682 4878 x122 as we forge this road together. I will be way until Sept 11. If you want to talk with someone today, please call our assistant director, Nina Flaherty, at 781 82 4878 x119 and she will connect you with Dr. Rob Adamski at 781 682 4878 x119. Rob can also be reached by email at Thanks again for your comments! Have a great day. Katrina Bergman, executive director

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