Injured Birds or Animals

It is very common to see baby wild animals outside especially during spring. Unless the animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue it. Below are important tips and resources.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Policy

The Audubon Center is not a wildlife rehabilitation facility and does not have the required permits, funding, or medical capability needed to accept or care for injured or orphaned animals.  There may be exceptions made when a species is of state or federal concern, in which case the wildlife would be turned over to the Missouri Department of Conservation or other wildlife officials. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) discourages people from interfering with injured or seemingly orphaned animals they encounter. Their policy, in most cases, is to let nature take its course. This is especially true with young animals that may appear to have been abandoned. Many animal parents, especially birds, will be just out of sight monitoring their young. The Audubon Center has adopted this position as well.

MDC and federal wildlife agencies have strict regulations concerning wildlife rehabilitation and animal possession and rehabilitators must hold permits. Licensed private individuals and are facilities may consider accepting specific injured animals. 

It is illegal to transport Missouri wildlife across state lines. The following numbers are for information only. The Audubon Center does not endorse any rehabilitation facility and only provides information readily found in the public domain.

Rehabilitators in the Four State Area 


Morning Star Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
13844 Mt. Olive Road
Gravette, AR 72736


Helping Arkansas Wild “Kritters
PO  Box 1922
Russellville, AR 72811


Kansas Department of Wildlife
Parks and Tourism


Joplin Animal Control
(417) 623-6122

Lakeside Nature Center
4701 E. Gregory Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64132

(816) 513-8960                             

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (mammals)
1864 Little Brennan Road
High Ridge, MO 63049
(636) 677-3670

Dickerson Park Zoo
1401 W. Norton Road
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 833-1570     

Wild Wings Raptor Rehab
Megan Duffee
Nevada, MO 64772
(417) 684-0877
Facebook site: Wild Wings Rehab

Helping "Orphaned" Animals

Baby Bird: 

Many species of birds leave the nest and spend as many as 2-5 days on the ground before they can fly. This is a normal and vital part of the young birds' development. While they are on the ground, the birds are cared for and protected by their parents and are taught vital life skills (finding food, identifying predators, flying).

If you are concerned that a bird fell from its nest too early, you may try and return the bird to its nest. If the nest has been destroyed or is unreachable, you may substitute a strawberry basket or small box lined with tissue and suspend it from a branch near to where you believe its nest is located.

Birds have a poor sense of smell and very strong parental instincts, which means they will usually continue caring for their young. However, adult birds are cautious after any type of disturbance and it may take several hours before they approach the nestling. During this period it is essential that humans not approach the nestling.

Baby Squirrel:

Mother squirrels are very dedicated and will try to retrieve their babies if separated from them. Do not give it anything to eat or drink. The baby needs to cry so that the mom will hear it. If the baby is not injured or extremely skinny and you know where the nest is (and the mom is ok) the best thing for the baby is to try to re-unite it with the mom. Put the baby in a plastic dish with a small piece of cloth under it and tack the dish to the tree where the nest is.  Put it at least 6 feet up from the ground.

  • Do not do this after dark. The mother squirrel will not come out after dark.
  • Do not do this if the baby is injured.
  • Do not do this if a cat has had it in its mouth.

Baby Raccoon:

If a baby raccoon is found, place it in a box with soft material to keep it warm with sides tall enough so the raccoon cannot climb out. Keep the box inside in a quiet area until dusk. Do not let children or animals touch it. Do not give it anything to eat or drink. Place the box outside at dark where you found the baby. The mother will not come back for their young until after dark, sometimes as late as midnight. Place a towel over the top of the box to keep out owls and night birds. Stay away from the box as much as possible, except to check on the baby.

Baby Bunny:

Bunnies are often unintentionally kidnapped by well-meaning people.  Rabbit nests are left unguarded most of the time, with the mother on the nest only twice a day for feeding.  Both feedings are done at night, when her presence will not attract predators.  

If you find bunnies, try to assess whether the babies seem warm, active, and have round tummies, which indicates the mother has been with them recently. Place them back in the exact location, but make sure they still have their fur and dried grasses to cover them.  The mom will still accept her babies if they've been touched by humans, but don't handle more than absolutely necessary! Babies are fragile and easily stressed and need peace and quiet. Never try to move the nest. Mother bunnies find their nests by knowing where they are geographically and even a 2-foot difference can throw her off. If you are concerned about predators, you can cover the nest with an upside-down wheelbarrow or lawn mower to keep predators away.