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14 May 2020
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Sanibel OutdoorsSanibel Wildlife

Guest blogger Matt Spaulding related a wildlife experience over the weekend which involved the assistance of CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife):

“Sunday night, I was putting out the recyclables and happened to check the rain gauge (We were expecting storms Mother’s Day, but they never came.).  Just underneath the gauge was a fledgling mourning dove, just sitting on the ground, hidden by a brick edge.  It (later confirmed as a “she”) was alive and alert, but wasn’t moving to get away from me, which I thought was unusual.  There was an adult mourning dove (presumably the mother) about 15 yards away, seemingly moving on.  There wasn’t anything we could do at that time, so we let her be for the night.

The next morning, I went to check on the fledgling.  She was still there (though she was now on the opposite side of the gauge), and “mama” was still looking on from afar.  I decided to take her to the CROW Hospital, which still takes patients even though the Visitor Education Center is closed during the COVID-19 crisis.  I got a box and a couple of hand towels (one for the bird to rest and warm itself, the other to pick her up), then I had a surprise as I tried to pick her up.  She started moving away from me and flapped her wings to try to fly away.  It took me a minute or two to finally corral her, so she was definitely not lethargic.

I got the box in the car and carefully drove in to CROW (just a couple of miles from my house).  As soon as I got out of the car and made my way to the passenger seat, someone emerged from the clinic entrance on the second floor.  I let her know the situation, and a clinician came right downstairs, took the box, and had me wait on the ground floor (social distancing).  After a few minutes, she came back with the box…and the bird.  Turns out the bird was healthy, had no signs of wounds, and had a full “crop,” which is a thin wall in the bird’s tract to store food before digesting it.  It was recommended that I bring her back to my house, and I placed her approximately where she was last.  No “parent” was spotted at last report, but hopefully it is just a couple of days before the squab manages to fly on her own.

It turns out I skipped a step when trying to help.  Human interaction is discouraged with baby animals and birds whenever possible.  If you’re unsure of how to proceed, it’s best to contact CROW first before moving it.  Their wildlife hospital and rehabilitators are available 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm at (239) 472-3644, ext. 222.

For more information about CROW and its mission, please check out our previous blog on the subject or go to  It will definitely be a fascinating place to visit post-COVID, so Book Direct and Save.