Painted Turtle: Wild at Heart "Species Spotlight"

We are dedicated to providing education in our community about local wildlife issues and take pride in being a resource for the public regarding wildlife.

Here you will find some resources you may find useful.

Only adults should rescue baby birds.

Prior to assisting in rescuing an adult bird, please consult your local wildlife rehabilitator.


  1. Prepare a container.

Place a soft cloth with no strings or loops on the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn’t have air holes, make them to assist the mammal to breathe fresh air. For smaller birds, you can use a paper bag with air holes punched in it.


  1. Protect yourself.

Wear gloves. Some birds may stab with their beaks; slice with talons, or slap with their wings to protect themselves, especially if they are in distress, even if they are sick. Wild birds often have parasites, (e.g. flees, ticks, lice) and carry diseases which can be harmful to you.


  1. Cover the bird with a sheet or towel.


  1. Gently pick up the bird and put it in the prepared container.


  1. Warm the bird if it’s cold out, or if the bird is chilled.

Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Or fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink or water bottle, or rubber glove with warm water; wrap warm container with cloth, and put it next to animal. Make sure container is leaf proof.


  1. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the bag closed.


  1. Note exactly where you found the bird.

This will be very important for its later release.


  1. Keep the bird in a warm, dark place.

Don’t give the animal food or water. Leave it alone as much as possible, and do your best not to handle it. Keep children and pets away in order to help alleviate any unnecessary stress.


  1. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator (like Wild At Heart) as soon as possible.


  1. Wash your hands after contact with the bird.

Wash anything the bird has come in contact with to prevent the spread of disease and/or parasites to you or your pets.


  1. Get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Providing wildlife with their favorite foods is a great start in attracting them to your property. You can do this through supplemental feeding and planting.

  • A greater variety of plants will attract a greater diversity of birds, so include a mixture of taller and shorter trees, shrubs, native flowers, and grasses.
  • By planting native wildflowers you attract insects which feed insect-eating birds and the young of many seed eaters.
  • Avoid the use of pesticides to increase insects for the insectivorous.

Add a source of water to your yard and you will be amazed at the wildlife you attract.

  • Satisfy the thirst of pollinators in the hot dry summer by providing water in a shallow dish, bowl or birdbath with half-submerged stones as perches.
  • Bird baths should be shallow (less than 6 cm deep), preferably with gradually sloping sides to allow birds to wade in.
  • Place the birdbath in a sunny location, at least 2 meters from dense trees or shrubs where cats can hide. In Canada, the domestic cat population of about 5 million kills about 140 million birds and small animals each year.
  • Birds find the sound of running water hard to resist. A fountain or a simple drip is likely to attract many birds to your yard.

Shelter will improve your yard and you will be amazed at the wildlife you attract.

  • Evergreens provide shelter for birds throughout the seasons and are particularly important over the winter season when they protect birds from cold temperatures and icy winds.
  • Snags, or dead trees, are particularly beneficial to wildlife.
  • Nesting boxes, if placed in a good location, help to make up for any shortage of places for birds to nest.
  • Dense foliage close to the ground provides cover for amphibians and reptiles.
  • Piles of leaves provide winter cover for some frogs and salamanders.
  • Amphibians require moisture, so building a pond is the best way to invite them to make your backyard home.


Wildlife rehabilitation is the process of providing aid to injured, orphaned, displaced, or distressed wild animals in such a way that they may survive when released to their native habitats.  The spectrum of activities ranges from direct care of wildlife to arranging suitable release sites.  Wildlife rehabilitation also involves anticipating and helping to prevent problems with wildlife as well as humanely resolving human-wildlife conflicts.

Why is Wildlife Rehabilitation Needed?

Contact between humans and wildlife grows daily as humans expand into or destroy wildlife habitat.  In most cases, when humans and wildlife collide, wildlife suffers.  Wildlife rehabilitation gives these wild animals a second chance to live free in their natural habitat.

Helping wildlife in need is not an easy task.  Working with wildlife requires specialized knowledge, skill, and facilities.  Potential dangers exist for the public, domestic animals, and wildlife when untrained and uninformed people attempt to provide care for wildlife.

Volunteer Section:

Wildlife Rehabilitation is not a great activity for children.  One of the important aspects of wildlife is its wildness.  Wildlife does not want to be in captivity, handled or watched by humans, who are considered predators.  They will bite, kick, or do whatever is needed to escape.  These animals also may transmit diseases and parasites, many of which are particularly dangerous to children.  In addition, too much attention by humans can stress the animal and cause unintended consequences, such as the animals’ death.  There are many ways other than rehabilitation to help children learn about nature.  (Perhaps here we could insert the education committees plans on starting up a Youth Group, School Sponsorship Program)


Other ways to help:

Some people may want to volunteer to help rehabilitators with particular tasks, such as cage building, transport, educational programs, fund-raising, or special projects.  Others may decide to dedicate their time to various environmental or political causes that help wildlife or other animals by such activities as protecting habitat or working on wildlife policy issues.

Living in Northern Ontario gives us an amazing opportunity to see wildlife that people living in other parts of Ontario would never dream of seeing outside of a zoo or maybe on vacation.  Although beautiful, this close proximity to wildlife can cause unsettling or unwanted encounters.  Following a few easy steps can help to prevent these meetings and continue our fascination with wildlife.

 Do Not Feed Wildlife.

Wildlife are capable of finding food on their own and feeding wildlife can cause many problems from disease to aggressive animals.  Feeding songbirds is ok at a well maintained feeder.  Keeping the bird feeder full and clean are important aspects to keeping a bird feeder in your yard.

Cover window wells, screen chimneys, vents, and water wells.

Covering window wells, screening chimneys, vents and water wells is important so that wildlife does not try to get into these areas, get stuck and end up injured or worse.  Using screening, grates, or any other material that can be put in and stay in place and not compromise the function.

Close or seal holes.

Closing or sealing holes in your foundation or other areas of your home to discourage animals from nesting and rearing their family.  Sealing holes that are larger than ¼ inch in diameter or cracks that are 3/8 inch wide to stop animals like bats or rats from getting into your house.  Burying wire mesh around the foundation of your home 30 – 60cm deep will help stop animals from digging into your home.

Keep garbage sealed.

Storing garbage in metal or plastic containers with tight fitting lids will help stop animals from getting into your garbage and spreading it over the lawn.  Also keeping the garbage in a garage or shed and only put it out when it is scheduled to be picked up.

Keep pet food inside.

If you have a pet door, keep pet food inside a cupboard so that wildlife isn’t tempted to come in and eat the food.

Mark your windows.

If you have problems with birds flying into your windows, break up how reflective the window is by placing decals, strips of fabric and curtains around the window.  Another solution is to place raptor silhouettes around the windows to scare away birds.

Fence gardens.

Fencing in gardens, covering fruit trees and ponds will slow down even the hungriest of wildlife.  This relatively inexpensive solution can save a lot of money in the long run.

Keep cats and dogs under control.

Keeping cats indoors will stop wildlife conflict and will also save you money.  Outdoor cats are more susceptible to injury and death than are indoor cats.  Keeping dogs on leashes, in an enclosed yard or in an enclosed outdoor kennel will greatly reduce the amount of wildlife encounters that your dog has.

Leave babies where they are.

Don’t assume just because you don’t see the parents around that the young have been abandoned.  Many species leave their babies so not to attract predators but they are returning periodically to check on their young.  Unless the animal appears sick or injured just leave it where you found it.

Leave wild animals wild.

Wild animals are just that, wild and they do not make good pets.  Baby animals are not easily kept in captivity and when they grow can become too large and too aggressive to deal with.

Clean up your litter.

Countless birds and mammals are injured or killed every year by eating litter.  Not only garbage, but things like fishing line, hooks and all types of other non-natural additions to the environment can harm or kill the animals that encounter it.

  1. It may cause an animal to lose or not properly develop its foraging skill. If an animal becomes dependant on a food source and for one reason or another that person(s) cannot continue to feed in that location it may decrease the animal’s chance of survival since that animal will believe that the food source will continue indefinitely and therefore does not need to search out other areas.  The animals will wrongly believe that this area has a lot more food than it actually does and will support more animals than it would naturally.
  1. It may allow animals to become accustomed to human contact. This may also lower the animal’s chance of survival as they may spend more time in urban centres increasing their chance of injury and death by vehicles, traps, or at the hand of people who may consider them a nuisance.
  1. Often the food offered by humans is not part of wildlife’s natural diet. Much of the food humans consume is not native to the area and would not be food that an animal would find in its natural habitat.  Some of these foods can be very harmful to the animal’s digestive system.  Feeding wildlife could be detrimental to young, growing wildlife species that may depend on food that is not nutritionally adequate for proper development and survival.
  1. It may cause zoonoses (diseases that are transmissible from animals to humans). There are a variety of diseases including rabies, salmonella, girardia, baylisascaris procynis (a worm that can move throughout the body) and tick-borne diseases that can be transferred from wildlife species to humans and domestic animals.
  1. Wildlife may get aggressive if they lose a human derived food source. People must not forget that wildlife species are very different from household or domestic pets. They are unpredictable and may become aggressive if food does not remain available.  This may be dangerous to people and domestic animals or cause damage to home and property.  Wild animals that lose their basic fear of humans can be much more unpredictable when in close proximity.


Feeding birds using a well maintained feeder.  Bird feeders can be okay for seed eating birds as birdseed can provide birds with adequate nutrition that is similar to what they could find in their natural habitat.  However, bird feeders should be regularly cleaned with dish soap and bleach especially in the winter to reduce bacteria and the spread of disease among birds.  Old seed and feces should be raked from below the feeder also to reduce spread of disease.  Domestic cats that prey on birds should be kept away from the feeder and if this is not possible the feeder should be removed.  It is best to fill the feeders only in the winter months if black bears are known to reside in the area.  Birds will count on this food source in the fall and if it stops, they could starve to death since they will then not be able to search out other sources during the winter.  Starting a feeder requires commitment to continue all winter.  If this is not possible then it is best not to start.

Perhaps you have a squirrel or raccoon that you are finding to be a nuisance in your yard.  You decide to get a live trap and once the animal is caught you take it out of town to a nice spot in the bush and release it.  You feel like you have treated the animal humanely, after all, you did not kill it.

However, relocating animals usually means that the animal may have a lower survival rate.  Animals tend to have feeding territories and when an animal is introduced to a new territory it:

  1. Does not know where to find food and shelter and so may fall victim to a predator or
  2. May get chased away by a current occupant of that territory and will continue to wander from territory to territory while not getting the necessary nutrients to stay healthy.

By relocating an animal, you may not have solved your pesky animal problem as a different squirrel or raccoon will move into the vacant territory around your yard and you will be facing the same situation a few weeks down the road.

  1. Keep the lot well treed; never clear cut.
  2. Protect shoreline vegetation; replant areas lacking shrubs and trees with native species.
  3. Start a buffer strip by leaving some grass uncut near the water.
  4. Build at least 30 metres away from the shore.
  5. Give clear instructions to your contractors and monitor their work.
  6. Avoid spilling fuels, antifreeze, paint thinner or other chemicals on land or water; clean up fast.
  7. Don’t use fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides near the water.
  8. Use only phosphate free soaps, detergents and cleaners in your home.
  9. Pump out your septic tank regularly; every two to three years.
  10. Extend the life of your septic system by avoiding tank additives and minimizing water consumption.
  11. Refuel your boat with care; don’t spill a drop.
  12. Watch your boat’s wake; it causes erosion.

Bird Studies Canada –

How to Attract Hummingbirds ( An informational guide for attracting hummingbirds through gardening and feeders. Find out which flowers, shrubs, and trees hummingbirds enjoy, and also find a homemade feeder recipe for attracting hummingbirds with feeders!