After-Hours Care

Willowbrook closes for the evening. If you have found an injured or orphaned animal after-hours, follow our instructions for care. Then, return when our center opens the following morning.

Please note: Your wild animal may not survive if it is exposed to adverse weather conditions or predators overnight. Cold evening temperatures can cause hypothermia in baby and debilitated adult animals. Mild wind can contribute to falling body temperatures. Rain can fill housing containers and drown an animal. If an animal is left unprotected, a predator can open a container and prey upon its contents.

First, provide shelter for the animal you have found. Then, follow these tips for its care:

  1. Keep the animal in a quiet, dark, dry and warm location away from people and pets.
  2. Place the animal in a secure container with good air flow. Shoe boxes, pet carriers, Rubbermaid containers or cardboard boxes work well. Make sure the lid is securely fastened with duct tape.
  3. Do not give anything to the animal by mouth. Attempts to provide food or water to an animal often results in it choking or swallowing wrong and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
  4. Babies are only fed by their parents during times of normal activity. Adult animals will not eat when scared and can be dangerous to approach. Most wild animals will not drink water from a cup. Leaving a water bowl in the cage of a young or debilitated animal could result in it chilling or drowning. 
  5. Wild parents brood their babies at temperatures over 90° F. Provide supplemental heat for a baby by positioning a heating pad set on low under one half of the container. Another alternative is a warm, water-filled bottle or zip-top bag. Wrap the water-filled container in a light cloth and place it inside the box, making sure it does not leak. If using a bottle, make sure it is secure and will not roll onto the baby.
  6. Do not peek at or talk to the animal. It needs its rest, too!   
  • Baby ducks, geese, crows, raptors and some songbirds can easily become imprinted on humans if exposed to our voice or appearance. An imprinted wild animal will be confused about its identity for its lifetime and cannot be released to the wild once grown. As a result, imprinting frequently ends in euthanasia.
  • Adult wildlife view humans as predators and are easily stressed by human contact. They are not comforted or soothed by our presence or our voices. What seems like a subdued, even friendly animal can recover quickly and become dangerous when cornered in a box. Do not interact with the animal in any way.

Please remember, it is illegal to keep a native wild animal more than 24 hours. You must bring it to an Illinois-licensed rehabilitator within that period. If you are unable to return to Willowbrook within this time frame, please seek your nearest licensed rehabilitator. Or call our information desk at (630) 942-6200 between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for assistance with locating a facility near you. 

Baby bird  
Food:    None
Water:      None
Housing: Perforated shoe box or plastic tub. Add a plastic cup with tissue as an artificial nest for songbird or young raptor
Special Needs:
Towel-lined bottom to absorb waste products, provide secure footing and insulate the baby. Heating pad under half of box or warm water bottle secured to a side of the box
Baby mammal  
Food: None
Water: None
Housing: Perforated shoe box or small container with a secure lid
Special Needs: A towel to hide under. Heating pad under half of box or container
Adult (any)  
Food: None
Water:      None

Pet carrier, cardboard box with lid secured with duct tape or plastic container. Cover holding container with a large towel to provide darkness 
Special Needs: Towel or paper-lined bottom to provide secure footing and absorb waste

Be mindful: Wild animals of all ages and species can carry diseases transmissible to people and pets. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a wild animal and clean and bleach the container after use, if you wish to use it again. Do not allow your pet access to any wild animal for both of the animals’ safety.


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