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Wildlife Rehabilitation

Wildlife Rehabilitation

The mission of the Living Desert’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program is to provide care to injured or orphaned native wildlife with the goal of eventual release into natural desert habitats. We strive to serve as a reliable source of information about desert species and to empower our community to coexist with wildlife.

Contact us

47900 Portola Ave. Palm Desert CA 92260

Hours of Operation

June – Sept 7:00 am to 1:30 pm
Oct – May 8:00 am to 1:30 pm
$5 recommended intake fee.

How do you know that a wild animal needs rescuing?

Not every animal that is on its own, can’t fly or climb, or seems to be in the wrong place, is in need of help. If you are uncertain that the animal is truly orphaned or critically injured, it is better left alone. Some situations that appear to be problems may instead be normal behaviors or stages of development. Sometimes it is just too dangerous for you to intervene or it might be more harmful for the animal. Call us for a consultation.

What should I do with a truly orphaned or injured native animal?

For legal and humane reasons, it is advisable to not care for an orphaned or injured native wild animal yourself. State licensed wildlife rehabilitators are your best bet for a legal, humane and successful outcome. In the Coachella Valley, The Living Desert and the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center (760-347-2647) in Indio are your best choices. Outside of the Valley, see the California Department of Fish and Game’s directory of currently licensed rehabilitators by clicking here. Before transporting your injured or orphaned wild animal to a wildlife rehabilitator, call for the best advice on capturing and handling during the transport.

You’ve found a wild animal that may need help- now what?

Birds (Feathered)
Mammals (Furred)
Reptiles (Covered in Scales)
Amphibians (Moist and Slimy)

Species Identification:

If you find an animal but you’re not sure what it is, here are some links to help:

Desert Tortoise Adoption Program

It is a program where captive-bred desert tortoises are adopted out to families and individuals. This program was started in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Game, when the desert tortoise was listed as threatened. Click here to learn more!

Featured Story!

The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America, approximately the same size as a Mourning Dove. These pint-size predators are found in our desert year-round and can often be seen perched on poles, fences, and in palm trees. They eat a variety of food items, including insects, rodents, and small birds. Male American Kestrels can be distinguished by their slate blue head and wings.

Recently, a male American Kestrel was brought in to the Native Wildlife Conservation Program by someone who noticed the bird was unable to fly more than a few feet off the ground. Radiographs (x-rays) were taken of the bird’s wings and veterinary staff determined that the kestrel had a fracture in the left wing, at the metacarpals. These are the equivalent to the small bones in the human hand. Because they are small bones, there was a good chance that the bird would heal and be able to fly normally again.

kestrel at the living desert

kestrel xray

The bird was set up in an indoor enclosure to rest and begin healing. The kestrel gained some weight and began to perk up as it healed. Two weeks later, a second radiograph was taken, which showed that the bones were healing well. In the x-ray, you can see the callus (labeled with an arrow) on the wing where the bone is healing. Veterinary staff recommended that the kestrel be given four more weeks to fully heal. At this point, the wing will be x-rayed again.

The kestrel continues to do well and will likely be moved to an outdoor enclosure after his next recheck. Outside, he can regain some flight muscles and rehab staff will determine whether he can properly hunt. If all goes well, the kestrel will be able to be released back to the wild!

Thanks to a Good Samaritan that brought the bird into the NWCP, this bird got a second chance. If you or someone you know finds an animal that you think may need help, the first thing to do is to call The Living Desert’s Native Wildlife Conservation Program or another licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you for tips on what you should do.

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