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Re-nesting Instructions for young raptors

Re-nesting young raptors is very easy. The basic idea is to get them off the ground for a few more days until they ‘ripen’ a bit more. This helps prevent predation overnight of the vulnerable youngsters.

If the baby is normally of ‘branching’ age, they are just going to jump right out of the basket you went to so much trouble to put up and at that point, you just have to let it go and nature will decide their fate. I don’t know why, but they leave the nest before they can fly or fend for themselves and it’s very frustrating for the humans that are watching this unfold…AND the rehabbers that get hundreds of calls during the season.

I prefer wicker baskets because they are very porous and don’t collect standing water – no buckets except as a temporary fix until you can get a proper basket – slick sides prevent them from fledging and they hold water because, you know, that’s what bucket do. smile emoticon

There are all sorts of YouTube clips showing how people re-nest, so you can get as elaborate and ridiculous as you like, but I’m more along the lines of ‘guerilla re-nesting’ – don’t get too wound up about it – it doesn’t have to be perfect – the idea is DO NO HARM.

You can find a variety of wicker baskets at your local Goodwill or other thrift shops, just make sure it’s an appropriate size for your particular critter. You want there to be enough room for the parent to get down into the basket with said babe to feed and otherwise tend to them.

You need to install the basket to the closest tree where you found the babe because chances are their nest site isn’t too far away. You can use bunji cords/mending plates/a square of wood to affix the basket to the tree.

As far as substrate goes, fresh pine boughs are preferable because the evaporation keeps the baby cool and it’s a natural insecticide. However, most live pine boughs are still 20 feet up still attached to the pine tree, so scrape together clean/dry pine straw and sticks. Be sure not to allow ants to hitch hike along for the ride into the basket.

DO NOT USE HAY, due to the Aspergillus mold spore that lives on hay. Asper is a fatal condition brought on raptors by stress/trauma – they pretty much have walled off lesions in the lung fields and air sacs, but stress can cause the immune system to plummet, thus creating an Asper bloom, which is fatal.

Did I scare you enough not to be lazy and use hay??? Hopefully.

Some people even build wooden roofs over the basket to protect the babe from rain. That’s fine, but you have to be sure that it’s sturdy because the parents will land on it and could potentially break away from the trunk and kill that baby you’ve just gone to all this trouble for.

– The first pic is that of a Barred owl that is WAY too young to be out of the nest.

– Next pic is of the laundry basket – make note of the large holes cored out of the bottom so it won’t collect water. It’s a STURDY laundry basket too, which is real important. You don’t want the parent bird landing on a flimsy basket only to be spooked.

It’s not that high on the tree either. I say 6 feet is a good height – that way, you can monitor the babe over the next few days to look for signs that the parents have been tending to them.

If their poop is green, they aren’t being fed

Normal poop is black and white (the white part are urates secreted from the kidneys – they don’t have a bladder)

Also you will find ‘hairballs’, which in raptor nomenclature, are called ‘castings,’ or ‘pellets’ – it’s the undigested part of their last meal, consisting of bones, teeth, claws, fur, feathers, etc…

– Last pic of is of one of the parents brooding the babe when the weather came through yesterday. A babe this young can’t regulate it’s own body heat and would probably have died from exposure.

We like happy endings!

You’ll notice the pic of the parent is blurred – because the Good Samaritan was smart and took this pic from his second story bedroom – Don’t get all ego-ey about your accomplishment and go out there gawking/bring the neighbors over/ all you will accomplish then is to spook the parent bird and the baby will starve to death, then you’ll feel terrible…




This is a photo of a ‘brancher’ Barred owl that does NOT need your help.

If you see it near a road, put it back more into the woods and then leave it alone.

If you pick up this bird and drive it somewhere, you have just condemned it to starve to death because this bird is too old to respond to operant conditioning techniques.