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.
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?
If you find an animal but you’re not sure what it is, here are some links to help:
- Bird Identification: http://www.whatbird.com/
- Reptile/Amphibian Identification: http://www.californiaherps.com/
- Mammals: http://www.livingdesert.org/animal-category/north-america/
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!
The Black Phoebe might be the cutest songbird found in our desert. This species sports a sooty gray-black body contrasting with a clean white belly and tops out at just 22 grams. Their call is a tiny “chip”, often repeated while they are perched. The Black Phoebe is a flycatcher species, meaning that they catch and eat flying insects as most of their diet. This menu consists of beetles, spiders, flies, grasshoppers, and dragonflies, and even includes bees and wasps. This makes Black Phoebes excellent neighbors for us humans, since they are often found living near homes. You are especially likely to see this species near water because insects are plentiful in these areas. The Black Phoebe is a native species that can be found in the desert year-round.
Recently, the Native Wildlife Conservation Program (NWCP) received two Black Phoebe chicks. The chicks were found at a residential home in Palm Desert where a solar installation project was occurring. The chicks were nestlings when they arrived and should have still been living in the nest. Black Phoebes build a cup shaped mud nest, usually found on a wall or overhang. The elevated activity level on the roof where the birds were nesting likely caused the chicks to end up on the ground below, where their rescuer found them.
Rehab keepers examined the chicks when they were brought in and they appeared slightly dehydrated and overheated from being in the desert sun. It was not possible to re-nest (return the chicks to their nest) due to the construction project. The NWCP took them in and cared for them until they were old enough to be released. In the wild, Black Phoebes grow up in about three weeks, and this is about how long they were patients at The Living Desert. With an all-insect diet, the two birds were in an outdoor enclosure in no time, re-acclimating to the desert heat and practicing flight. The phoebes were released at the original site, which has sources of food, water, and shelter, as well as the company of adult Black Phoebes.
Although habitat changes as the desert becomes more developed, the Black Phoebe adapted well to living near humans. In the Coachella Valley, our plentiful pools and golf course ponds provide endless insects and the ledges and overhangs of our homes and buildings are ideal nesting spots. Because these birds are diurnal, or active mostly during the daytime, it is easy to spot Black Phoebes around your home. Oftentimes, this species sits in the open on a low perch to keep an eye out for insects. The next time you are near a body of water, take a look around to see if you can find any phoebes. As always, if you find a wild animal you suspect is in need of help, call or email the NWCP for advice.