Baby mourning dove brought in against hospital recommendation

April 30, 2024

A mourning dove and two raccoon kits were among the one hundred and eighteen animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a red-bellied woodpecker, a pileated woodpecker, a green heron, a mottled duck and her six ducklings, a white-tailed deer, and a yellow-bellied slider.

A man brought a mourning dove to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital because his wife was concerned the dove was an orphan. The wife had been watching the young dove and hadn’t seen the parents. She called the wildlife hospital and texted a photo, and although hospital staff told her the dove looked healthy, alert, well-fed, and not orphaned, she took the dove and sent it with her husband to our facility.

Hospital staff spoke with the husband and explained the situation – the dove was a fledgling and learning to fly. It was well-fed meaning the parents were still tending to their baby as it was learning to fly. Staff discussed the need to return the healthy baby back to the yard where it was found so the parents could resume caring for their baby.

Returning healthy young wildlife to their parents is always the best option for any baby wild animal. Young wild animals learn vital survival skills from their parent(s). von Arx Wildlife Hospital Staff does their best to ensure young wildlife grows up healthy with an appropriate fear of humans yet many of the skills needed to survive in the wild can be challenging to teach in a captive setting.

If you find an animal you believe is injured or orphaned, call the wildlife hospital for guidance before taking action. Staff will ask questions and request photos of the animal be sent via text or email so we can determine the appropriate course of action. Our goal is to ensure healthy babies are left in the wild. We understand that people have good intentions but intervention should only occur when an animal is truly sick, injured or orphaned.

Orphaned Young Raccoons Rescued with Kindness and Determination

A woman in Bonita Springs texted a short video of two young raccoons she was seeing in the bushes along her driveway. Hospital staff watched the video and instantly knew the kits were orphaned and needed rescuing. Staff could see that the kits were too young to be without their mother and looked thin and weak. Hospital staff spoke with the woman and discussed different options to safely contain the kits without directly handling the babies. One idea was to put some food in a pet crate near the bushes and see if the babies would go in for the food. Once inside, the pet crate door could be securely closed with the kits inside.

The woman showed up at the wildlife hospital a short while later with the two raccoon kits safely secured in a small cat crate that she had quickly run out and purchased so she could rescue the kits. Her kindness and determination to ensure the young kits received professional care were impressive. Seeing people who are willing to do whatever it takes to mitigate the suffering animals endure provides hope that humans and wild animals can successfully coexist.

There are many ways to help wildlife thrive in a world altered by humans. Check trees and yards before trimming or mowing and delay landscape work if you find an active nest, install nest boxes to provide safe nesting options for native birds, plant native plants to provide food and shelter for animals, and eliminate the glare and reflection caused by large expanses of window glass by keeping curtains closed. Most importantly, monitor pets when they are outdoors, this protects native wildlife, especially ground-nesting animals.

Recent Releases

Three eastern screech owls, an eastern cottontail, two mourning doves, a killdeer, three grey squirrels, a peninsula cooter and three gopher tortoises were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Check out the von Arx Wildlife Hospital Wish List posted on Amazon and donate items used to care for wildlife in need. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. Support from the community enables the von Arx Wildlife Hospital to continue to help injured, sick and orphaned wildlife.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see