One of the great signs of spring in West Michigan is the nesting and hatching of birds, ducks and geese.

The Michigan DNR shares what you can do to help (and what you shouldn't do) if you find chicks, goslings or ducklings.

DUCKS

  • Ducks' nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards commonly will build nests in landscaping or gardens.
  • Holly Vaughn Joswick, Department of Natural Resources wildlife outreach technician says, “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.”
  • If she is successful and her eggs hatch, the mother will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water, often the day they hatch.
  • “Don’t worry if you do not live near water – the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it,” added Vaughn Joswick.
  • You can expect the female mallard to sit on the nest for about a month prior to the eggs hatching. If the nest fails on its own – something that happens regularly – Joswick advises to just wish her luck on her next attempt.

GEESE

  • Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water. Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch. If possible, try to avoid the area. Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder.

BIRDS

  • Baby birds learn to fly through trial and error. They may feel they are ready to fly, but their flight feathers might not have fully grown in yet. It is common to find baby birds on the ground after an attempt to fly. If this is the case, please do not touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.
  • Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.
  • In the event that you find a chick on the ground that is sparsely feathered, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to learn to fly. If you know where the nest is, you can put the chick back in the nest if you can do so safely.

WHEN A BIRD IS ABANDONED OR INJURED

  • Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including birds, in Michigan.
  • The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when it is obvious the parent is dead or the animal is injured. A licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild.
  • Birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law and must be left alone. Unless you have a license, taking a baby bird or eggs from the wild is breaking the law.

Here's a baby duck that needed to be rescued from outside of our building last year.

And here's a very determined baby duck that we saw outside of our building a couple of years ago.