Author: siteadmin

Identifying baby birds

Many birds look very different when they are nestlings to their parents. It can often be quick difficult to identify.

Here are some commons species that we get calls for, particularly around Spring.

Red wattlebird young has a dark grey wing feathers with lighter flecks. Legs are pink.

A young Common blackbird has a brown and white speckled belly, and pink to grey legs

European starlings have light edges on their wing feathers and dark pink legs

Noisy miners are native. They are light grey with hints of yellow on their wings. Their legs are grey to yellow.

A common myna is not native and is brown. They have white on the ends of their wings and yellow legs.

Ravens can look big when they are still dependant on their parents. Adults have white eyes with blue rings around the pupils, whereas a young one will have grey or brown eyes.

Compare the magpies. The adult had the light beak with the black tip, whereas the young one’s beak is all grey.

Notice how the Pied Currawong has quite a lot of white feathers on the underside compared to the ravens and magpies.

Wildlife-Friendly Fencing

Barbed-wire, poorly-maintained and loose fencing can cause problems for our wildlife. Sugar gliders and flying foxes can get their membranes caught on old rusty barbs, and kangaroos can get their feet entangled in loose or hard-to-see wires.

Wildlife Friendly Fencing is fencing that is safe and effective for wildlife, people and livestock. It:

  • does not entangle or harm wildlife,
  • allows the appropriate free movement of wildlife across rural and urban landscapes,
  • may mean no fence at all


For more information of wildlife-friendly fencing, visit The Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project.

Heat Stress – You Can Help!

During the hotter months, when we experience high temperatures several days in a row, many of our native animals start to feel it. They will feel exhausted, dehydrated and confused. Heat stress can cause organ damage if not treated and hot surfaces such as tin roofing can cause skin damage to feet.

How can I identify a heat-stressed animal?

Generally, heat-stressed animals will:

  • appear lethargic, unresponsive or confused
  • birds may pant and open their beak; hold their wings out away from their body.
  • possums may come to the ground during the day
  • flying foxes hang lower in trees than usual and often “clump” together in the tree
  • at its worst, animals may suffer convulsions or lose consciousness

How can you help?

Provide animals with hydration by putting out a bowl of water:

  • place a shallow dish of water with some sticks, bark and/or rocks leaning out of the water – this will give animals a way out if they fall in
  • place the dish in a safe place away from cats, dogs and roadways
  • place it in the shade – use an umbrella or near a tree – check it regularly to ensure it is still shaded
  • regularly check the water level and top it up if necessary.

If you find an animal approaching your bowl, keep calm and observe from a distance.

What do I do if I find a heat-stressed animal?

If you find an animal (except flying foxes and bats) that is suffering from heat stress it may need urgent attention by a vet. If you feel comfortable:

  • wrap the animal in a towel or blanket, secure it in an appropriate carrier (ventilated container, cat cage etc)
  • note the exact location where you found the animal so it can be returned
  • take the animal to your nearest vet
  • the vet will assess and determine if care is required or simply an overnight visit to get well again.

A heat-stressed bat or flying fox will need the attention of a vaccinated rescuer. Call a rescue organisation for assistance.

If you need assistance with a heat-stressed animal, please call a rescue organisation for guidance.

Bird on the ground? Don’t “Bird-Nap”!

“Birdnapping” is a common occurrence particularly around spring. Many well-meaning people see a young bird on the ground, assume it is lost or injured and take it. This means the bird may have to go to a carer and may not be reunited with its parents.

I have found a bird on the ground, what do I do?

Fledglings (young birds that have grown all or most of their feathers) leave the nest for a few main reasons. The first being over-crowding; if there is more than one baby, the nest can get very tight for space. The second main reason is that the baby is practicing to fly and strengthening its wing muscles. Once the fledglings are on the ground, they may be unable to get back into the nest, as they are not strong enough. Their parents will usually continue to feed them while they are on the ground.

If you find a young bird on the road, or somewhere very exposed and it is uninjured, you can try and place it somewhere nearby like a low branch or shrub where there is cover and it is a little safer. Don’t worry, the parent birds will hear it calling so they will find it.

Will the parent birds care for the bird?

Fledglings are fed by their parents – so they are never far away, probably collecting food. If they see you close by they will not return until you have gone. Stand back or leave for a while and come back. If the parents aren’t around in a couple hours then there may be a need to intervene.

Can I handle the bird?

There is an ‘old wives tale’ that if you handle a baby bird, the parents will pick up the human scent and abandon the chick. This is not correct. If you have picked up a chick, put it back or nearby where you found it and the parents will provide the care it needs.

If you notice the chick has not been fed or protected by its parents, or has been on the ground for more than a day without parents attending, please contact a rescue organisation for further guidance or contact your local vet.

Should I try and put the bird back in the nest?

If you find an unfeathered bird that has fallen out of the nest, you could try to find the nest and put it back carefully. If you are unable to find the nest, or it is too high up, you can try making a ‘fake nest’. Using an left over takeaway or ice-cream container, put some holes in the bottom, and fill with leaf litter – enough that the bird will be able to get out when it’s ready. Then securely place the container as close you can to the original nest – in the same tree on a lower branch, or a tree or bush as close as you can get. Please contact a rescue organisation for further advice. Remember: not all birds nest in trees, their nest may actually be on the ground.

I believe the bird is injured or sick, what do I do?

If you think the young bird is genuinely orphaned or it is clearly sick, put it in a box, keep it warm and contact a rescue organisation for advice or hand it in to the nearest vet.

My cat/dog caught a bird, what should I do?

The saliva in the mouths of dogs and cats can be toxic to other animals. It takes only a short while for toxicity to set in and it is critical that a vet sees the injured bird as soon as possible. If vets are not available then arrange to get the bird to an animal emergency hospital. Keep dogs and cats confined during dusk, dawn and dark hours.

Fledgling magpies that were “birdnapped”.
Photo credit: JABS Joey and Bat Sanctuary



Common Ringtail Possum juvenile in care.

In Melbourne, you are likely to come across one of two species of possums:

  • Common Brushtail Possum – up to the size of a small cat, pointed ears, fluffy tail with end section black 
  • Common Ringtail Possum – half the size of a small cat,  rounded ears, and white tip on the tail

Our Wildlife Rescuers get called out to assist with possums due to:

  • hit by car
  • attacked by dog or cat
  • fire or heat stress
  • loss of habitat, or
  • cruelty

How can you help?

Possums are active during the night; a possum on the ground during the day will be in need of help. If safe, place a washing basked or box over the possum to protect it from predators and call us, our phone operator will guide you on the next steps. If you see a possum hit by a car, if safe move the possum off the road and check for a joey in the pouch.

Possums In The Roof

Possums live in roofs because it’s a warm, dark place – they feel comfortable. An easy way to move them from your roof is simply providing an alternative – a possum box. Possum Boxes (and other nesting boxes) can be sourced from LaTrobe University’s Wildlife Sanctuary Retail Store. Possums can be removed by professional services for a fee.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira © The Wildlife Rescuers Inc. ABN 23 863 298 517