Baby squirrel feeding – photo by Willow Osborn

April 4, 2017 – With the emergence of recent spring weather, Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (WR&R) offers the following suggestions to minimize impacts on nesting or young wild animals and birds.

Don’t Mow Grass/Weeds Too Short in Early Spring – Inspect Brush Piles Before Burning

Many residents don’t realize that as the weather warms up, wildlife may have already started nesting in their yards.  Early spring mowing and weed eating can hurt, kill, or expose baby animals to predators. To minimize impacts, walk your lawn/field first looking for signs of nesting or hiding wildlife.

Cottontail Rabbits rescued in Yuba County after their nest was destroyed by mowing – photo by Jackie Moore

When starting to mow, begin in the middle and mow in circles, gradually moving outward so that escaping animals and birds can move outward through cover to safety. One thing that people can do to protect very young rabbits is to keep the weeds low all year, discouraging them from nesting in areas needing clean up each spring. For wildlife friendly yard and lawn maintenance tips see:

In addition, carefully examine any burn piles left over winter for the presence of birds and small mammals. Setting piles on fire can lead to major injuries and death for many small animals or birds.

Reinforce Fences Around Chicken Houses – Make Gardens/Orchards Less Attractive

WR&R recommends a variety of methods to discourage critters from denning/nesting around one’s home early in the spring. Make your home and property unattractive to wildlife. Don’t leave cat or dog food outside. Critter proof your chicken house. Use chain link instead of chicken wire. Raccoons and foxes will be less likely to get in. Use electronic eye sprinklers, noise makers, and dogs to make an orchard or garden less attractive to hungry wildlife. Once born however, please leave the animals alone until the mother feels they are old enough to move them along. Have patience, they will move in a few short weeks, and it can be a joy to watch them grow.

Inspect Trees for Bird/Squirrel Nests Before Removal

Young Scrub Jay rescued and brought to WR&R for care – photo by Ann Westling

It is important to carefully survey a tree for nests before it is cut down to reduce the chances of injuring or killing small mammals or birds. Late fall is the best time to remove trees or brush.

WR&R recommends, that since we all live in wildlife habitat, please consider these tips to reduce impacts on local wildlife.

Summary: Tips for Protecting Wild Birds and Animals in the Early Spring

  • Keep grasses/weeds low year round and avoid mowing them too short in early spring.
  • Inspect brush piles before burning.
  • Make gardens/orchards less attractive/accessible to wildlife
  • Late Fall is the best time to have trees cut down. At other times of the year, songbirds, small mammals, and raptors could be nesting.
  • Always inspect a tree or bush for nests including those of birds and squirrels before removing it.

WR&R is the all-volunteer non-profit organization that rehabilitates and releases injured or orphaned native birds and animals in Nevada, Yuba, and Sutter Counties. For assistance with an injured or orphaned native bird or mammal, contact WRR’s hotline – 530-432-5522.