Spring is a busy season for wildlife in Central Oregon, and April is especially busy for some of our favorite frequent visitors! Many guests you might recognize from your bird feeder at home are hatching young, such as the Chickadees with their signature black-caps and chicka-dee-dee-dee call. These, along with wrens and some of our larger woodpecker species, are using natural or manmade cavities to nest and keep their wild babies enclosed and safe.
Other hatchlings this month will find themselves in beautiful and creative nests made by their parents, such as the elaborate hanging nest of the Bushtit or a Swallow nest built entirely of mud and saliva! As always, keep a weather eye out for these youngsters and other vulnerable wildlife when you’re out enjoying warmer weather! However, beware–crows and jays are well-known for being incredibly protective of their nests and families, so if you run into some aggressive or highly vocal corvids, give them plenty of space and respect!
Our local grounds squirrels are also having wild babies. These squirrels are smaller than the large gray tree squirrels you may see most often, and have shorter, thinner tails due to their ground-oriented nature. They often nest in burrows, and may even have several burrows set up in case of emergency! When a mother ground squirrel suspects one nest may have become too dangerous for her babies, she may evacuate them to another burrow. She will carry them one at a time, but may drop one if spooked. Always contact a wildlife rehabilitator if you suspect a wild baby might have been left behind. Sometimes, reuniting these families and orphans is easier than you think!
Do you know how to tell the difference between a cottontail, a hare, and a jackrabbit? Mountain Cottontails, the small, brownish-gray High Desert resident, love to nest in yard debris and brush. They often nest above-ground, so be careful where you’re weed-whacking this and next month as their young are born, open their eyes, and go off on their own! Snowshoe Hares, which have brown fur in the summer, contrary to popular belief, reside high in the Cascades and use their tremendous rear feet to survive snowy altitudes. They often nest in natural depressions or hollow logs–very much out in the open compared to some of our other wild babies this month! Keep up with our Wild Babies blog posts to learn more about jackrabbits as their nesting season begins, and please keep these wild babies in mind whenever sharing in the wonder of the outdoors.
Written by: Lindsay Magill