You Think It Might Be An Orphan, But Does It Need Your Help?

Effective November 16th, 2022:

Until further notice, due to avian influenza, the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has suspended the intake and rehabilitation of all species of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, pelican, gull, corvid, and all raptor species, to include eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, harriers, osprey, vultures, and owls. From the Alabama Department of Conversation and Natural Resources: Members of the public seeking assistance with these species should be instructed not to touch the bird, to leave it where found, and to contact the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries at 334-242-3469 with any concerns about HPAI.


Every year thousands of young wild animals are found by people. Most of these animals do not need to be rescued!

AWC’s Wildlife Help Line can help you decide whether or not to rescue a young wild animal. The following information will help you assess a situation before you call.

Am I an Orphan?
An “orphan” is a young animal that is not able to care for itself and whose parents cannot be found or are known to be dead. It is natural for all young animals to explore the world alone once they leave the nest. If you have found a healthy young animal that is able to walk and is fully furred or feathered, it probably does not need your help. Its parents are usually nearby, even if they are not visible to you. Observe the young animal from a distance for some time before calling AWC.

Am I in Danger?
Pets and children are the most immediate dangers to a young animal in your yard. Pets may attack the young animal and children may cause injury by mishandling it. Some wild animals carry diseases. Keep your pets and children away from the wild animal while you assess the situation with AWC’s Wildlife Help Line.

Another danger is hypothermia. Nestling (infant) animals need to be brooded and kept warm by their parents. If a young animal is cold to the touch, tell the Help/Info Line specialist so that they can advise you about what to do.

Am I Injured or Weak?
If the young animal appears thin, weak or injured, it should be rescued and delivered to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility. If an animal has been attacked by a cat or dog, presume it is injured even if no injury is obvious. Pet attacks usually cause significant internal damage.

Call AWC for Help
If you’re unsure if the wild animal needs your help, please call our Wildlife Help Line first: 205-663-7930, Ext. 1.

Once You’re Certain It’s an Orphan
It is against federal law for you to raise a wild bird. If you are absolutely certain you’ve found an orphaned bird, you must bring it to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility for proper care.

When you’ve determined a bird definitely is an orphan, bring it to our rehabilitation clinic for immediate care. We’re open every day of the year from 11:00am to 4:00pm for bird admissions.