What to Do When You Find a Baby Bird on the Ground

When out in the spring sunshine, you may have come across a baby bird out of its nest, in today’s veterinary blog a few guidelines on what to do next, and how to utilize the local bird center to rehabilitate these young, feathered friends.

The Treasure Valley is very fortunate to enjoy the services of the Ruth Melichar Bird Center (RMBC), operated under the Animals In Distress Association (AIDA).

If you stumble upon a baby bird out if its nest, before you scoop up the little ball of feathers, please note that it is against Idaho law to have a wild animal in captivity unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.RUTH MELICHAR BIRD CENTER - what to do if you find a baby bird in Idaho

In addition, fledglings are most likely not orphaned or abandoned—but in the middle of a flight lesson. Many bird species spend a few days on the ground before they can fly. They are still provided for and watched over by their parents who are often nearby (and probably watching you). This time serves as a vital part of development, teaching life skills such as finding food, identifying predators, and flying.

When humans interfere--even with good intentions--baby birds will be denied the opportunity to learn necessary survival skills. Unless injured, it’s best to leave the baby bird outside.

There are some ways that you can help. First, do not draw unnecessary attention to the bird (i.e. don’t draw a crowd).

Next, look around the immediate vicinity to determine if the bird is in harms way from animals, people, or vehicles. If so, reduce the danger by moving the bird from the middle of the path/road, put it nearby, in a more secluded spot. The bird's parents will be able to find and care for the fledgling if it remains near the location where you have found it.

Do NOT worry that if you touch the bird its parents will abandon it (that's a myth). They will not, as long as the bird is still in the general area where it was found, just don’t handle it excessively.

However, if you find a nestling (a very young bird) that has fallen from the nest, it may need some assistance to be placed back inside. If you find an abandoned bird in the Treasure Valley - Contact the RUTH MELICHAR BIRD CENTER

Here’s how to tell the difference: A fledgling is an older bird. It’s fuzzy and has wing feathers and a short tail. The nestling is a baby, naked, wobbly, with big eyes—and clearly not ready to leave the nest.

An injured bird needs intervention and rehabilitation. That’s where the Ruth Melichar Bird Center (RMBC) comes in. If you find an injured baby bird or nestling that cannot be returned to its nest, call the RMBC at 208.338.0897 for further instructions.

Their website advises placing the baby bird in a small box, with a towel shaped like a nest to prevent the bird from flopping about or getting injured during transport, and immediately bringing it to the bird center at 4650 N. 36th in Boise.

A few other important reminders from the RMBC. Do not give food or water to any wildlife. If an animal is cold, dehydrated, injured, or ill, any food or improper hydration could kill it. Never give a wild animal any cow’s milk or human infant formula.

You may access the AIDA website for more information on what to do if you find wildlife or birds HERE

The Treasure Valley is very fortunate to be served by Animals in Distress Association. This nonprofit was founded in 1987 by local individuals dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and successful release of injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife.

The AIDA team consists of state and federally licensed rehabilitators and volunteers. It is funded entirely by annual membership donations, contributions, and fundraising events, and receives no state or federal funding.

Below you'll find information on the common maturation stages of songbirds from the Audubon Society of Portland


  • Days 0-3: Wisps of natal down on body, eyes closed 


  • Day 3: Eyes open
  • Day 4: Primary feathers (also called pin feathers) pierce skin, they look like blue tubes sticking out of the skin
  • Day 6: Nestling responds to alarm call of parent
  • Day 7: Primary feathers unsheathed
  • Day 10: Bird is alert, stretches wings and legs


  • Days 13-14: Can flutter and hop from branch to branch, fully feathered, but has a short tail and wings, leaves the nest.
  • Days 14-28: They do not return to the nest, but are still fed by the adults in nearby trees or on the ground if the young have not yet mastered flying.


WestVet provides emergency veterinary care to Treasure Valley pets 24/7.

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Avoiding Heat-Related Injuries or Emergency Veterinary Visits

Warmer temperatures mean more time outside for both two-legged Treasure Valley residents and their four-legged friends; in today’s veterinary blog avoiding the animal emergency hospital during the summer.

The hiking and biking trails that surround the valley are just a few of the amenities that make living in Idaho so fantastic. Hot to avoid heat-related pet injuries during summer -- and Animal emergency VisitsBalancing your pet’s length of exercise and intensity can be crucial for your dog’s health during the warmer seasons. We often find that our emergency team treats pets with heat-related injuries at the beginning of the summer – when pets and families are adjusting to the warmer days.

Temperatures do not have to be in triple digits to put a dog at risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, etc. This is because a dog’s natural cooling mechanism relies on panting to cool off, an inefficient and slow process.

Any dog could get heat stroke if exercising too long on a hot day. However, there are some breeds or characteristics that could make yours particularly susceptible, including:

  • A senior dog or very young  pup
  • Overweight
  • Unaccustomed to physical exercise/out-of-shape
  • Suffering from heart or respiratory disease
  • Certain breeds of dogs, such as boxers, pugs, Shih Tzu (dogs or cats with short muzzles).

Dr. Dan Hume, WestVet Emergency Criticalist, reminds pet families to always keep your pets in a cool environment with plenty of shade and fresh water. Keeping your pets safe in the heat of the summer and avoiding an animal emergencyMore importantly, avoid extreme exertion during the heat of the day. Dogs overcome with heat following rigorous outdoor activities may have heat stroke—a life-threatening situation.

The first indication of heat exertion is excessive panting or difficulty breathing. Many dogs will become lethargic and can develop salivation, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, this can even progress to stupor, weakness, staggering or a lack of coordination and seizures—all signify a veterinary emergency. If your dog experiences these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.

Fast action in this scenario might save your dog’s life. Remove him/her from the hot area immediately. Wet the dog thoroughly with cool water (not ice or ice water) and use a fan to cool your pet as you transport him/her to the veterinarian.

Avoiding the heat of the day for exercise is an easy way to steer clear of a heat-related veterinary emergency.


If you are concerned that your pet is behaving acutely abnormally, whether or not you suspect a reaction to an insect bite or sting, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. 

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Pets & Ticks 101: Prevention, Detection, and Safe Removal

As spring blossoms throughout the Treasure Valley, people and pets might encounter some unpleasant critters; Emergency Veterinarian Dr. Kara Lindberg tackles ticks—and what to do if you find one on your pet.

In today’s veterinary blog quick instructions on performing a tick check on your pet, steps for safe removal, and when to see your family veterinarian.

Since growing up in Minnesota, where pets deal with ticks throughout the warm months, I have been pleasantly surprised at how few ticks I have treated in Idaho. However, while ticks may be less prevalent here, there seems to be a misconception that there are no ticks in Idaho and that subsequently, our pet does not require preventative medications. Dr. Kara Lindberg with tips in today's veterinary blog on ticks and dogsThat is simply not the case. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) developed a map display that illustrates which ticks live here (and those that reside in the areas where you may have a summer camping trip planned). You may access that interactive map HERE

Tick are ectoparasites. That means that they live outside the body of its host. As a relative of mites and spiders, ticks feed on the blood of animals—a process that enables them to potentially transmit disease.

Tick-borne diseases include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Babesiosis
  • Tularemia

Please note, many of these diseases are found in only one region, and are transmitted by a particular type of tick. Plus, ticks often must feed for several hours before disease transmission. To help prevent tick-related diseases in your pet, contact your family veterinarian about effective preventative medication.

Check your dog regularly for ticks. This is especially important for pets that are often outside or following a walk near the Greenbelt or in the foothills. WestVet offers 24/7 emergency veterinary care to Idaho petTo perform a “tick check,” run your hands along your pet’s body, from head to toes to tail. Pay careful attention in and around the ears, in between the toes, and in the armpits. If you feel any bumps or lumps, investigate further.

If you discover a tick, the CDC has recommended the following steps to safely remove it.

How to remove a tick

1. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible.

2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.

3. After removal, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water.

4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

If you find a tick on your pet and you do not feel comfortable removing it, see your veterinarian right away.  Incorrect removal may cause more harm, your family veterinarian can demonstrate how to remove it properly and provide information on tick preventatives.

If you are concerned that your pet may be sick following a tick bite, see your vet right away. Many tick-borne diseases can take several days to weeks before manifesting symptoms (e.g. lethargy, fever, lameness), so monitor your pet closely.


If your pet is behaving acutely abnormally, whether or not you suspect a reaction to a tick, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day.

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The 9th Annual ACVO National Service Dog Eye Exam Event brings Veterinary Ophthalmologists and thousands of service animals together.

Garden City, Idaho – During May, WestVet staff members enjoy meeting some of southwestern Idaho’s four-legged heroes when service dogs receive a free eye exam as part of the ACVO National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. The 9th Annual National Free Service Animal Eye Exam Event takes place in May 2016Since its inception in 2008, more than 45,000 Service Animals in the United States and Canada have received complimentary vision screenings; last year 40 dogs were seen at WestVet.

The free exams are performed by Carrie Breaux, DVM, MVSc, DACVO, and Amber Labelle, DVM, MS, DACVO, Idaho’s only board certified veterinary ophthalmologists. The doctors evaluate potential problems which may interfere with the animal's ability to accomplish their tasks. Many of the problems that are diagnosed in service animals have been correctable.

WHAT A VISION SCREENING EXAMINATION ENTAILS. A detailed eye examination is performed on each service animal.  Drs. Breaux and Labelle not only evaluate the surface of the eye but the structures within the eye. Examination findings are discussed with each service animal's human partner. 

National Service Animal Free Eye Exam held at WestVet for area service dogs.

A dog may exhibit some symptoms of eye or vision issues. A handler/agent may notice that the animal begins bumping into things when outside of a familiar environment. However, other times there are no external warning signs that a problem is developing internally. A thorough exam provided by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist can offer a proactive approach to ensuring the health of Service Animals' eyes. Family veterinarians often refer both service dogs and family pets to a WestVet specialist if extensive therapy or treatment is deemed necessary.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2016 EVENT. To qualify for a free vision screening, Service Animals must be classified “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. Certifying organizations may be national, regional, or local in nature.

Registration is held April 1—30 at  www.acvoeyeexam.org.

Upon successful registration, the handler/agent will receive a registration code and then may contact a veterinary ophthalmologist at WestVet at 208.345.1600 to make an appointment.

Exams take place throughout the month of May 2016; times vary and appointments are filled on a first come, first-served basis.

The goal of the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event is to provide as many free screening exams as possible to eligible Service Animals across the U.S. and Canada. Service Animals that qualify include guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and certified-current, registered therapy animals. Area Service dogs receive free vision screening exams at WestVet through the national eventThis year’s event is sponsored by ACVO® and Stokes Pharmacy, as well as several generous industry sponsors, and volunteer ophthalmologists. Participating ophthalmologists volunteer their services, staff and facilities at no charge to participate in the event.

ABOUT THE ACVO. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.”

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WestVet’s new animal medical center, opening late 2016 on 50th and Chinden, will be one of the largest and most progressive veterinary centers in the Northwest.

Garden City, Idaho – Construction is now fully underway on WestVet’s new two-story specialty veterinary center.WestVet -- Idaho's most advanced veterinary animal care center  under construction The 32,000 sq. feet hospital—three times the size of the current space—will be one of the largest and most progressive animal care centers in the Northwest. WestVet serves pets from Idaho, Eastern Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah.

(Pictured above, groundbreaking for the new facility in Garden City, Idaho on March 17, 2016; left to right; WestVet owners, Dr. Jeff Brourman, Dr. Carrie Breaux, Dr. John Chandler, and Ann Selander, Hospital Administrator.)

“Our new hospital was carefully designed to enable our specialty team to better serve our patients, clients, and area veterinarians,” says Dr. Jeff Brourman, a board-certified surgeon, part owner, and WestVet Chief of Staff.

WestVet’s services will rival that of some human hospitals; design elements of the ultra-modern specialty center include:

  • An advanced intensive care unit for critically sick patients.WestVet under construction to become Idaho's most progressive and advanced veterinary care center.
  • 5 state-of-the-art surgery suites, along with a designated anesthesia recovery area.
  • Cutting-edge imaging services such as CT and MRI.
  • A full physiotherapy suite equipped with electronic hoists for large dogs.
  • On-site comprehensive diagnostic laboratory led by veterinary pathologists.

In addition to treatment advancements, the new hospital comprises multiple means for owner-pet interaction. The ICU visitation area enables owners to privately visit critically sick or injured pets when they receive medical care. A family comfort room, complete with a home-living environment and outdoor sanctuary, affords families a more natural environment for visitation and peaceful euthanasia.

“I have no doubt that an owner’s interaction with a hospitalized pet improves its attitude, speed of recovery, and the ultimate outcome. Therefore, we focused design components on areas where we could help foster the human-animal bond during hospitalization.” 

As a referral center, WestVet maintains a close working relationship with family practice veterinarians. The specialist team offers monthly continuing education lectures on cutting-edge veterinary medicine practices. The new facility includes a large auditorium-style classroom for these presentations that will enable veterinary professionals to meet licensure requirements.

The site of the new facility is the 1-acre lot located at 50th and Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. Formerly the home of Cars USA, the property is adjacent to, and just south of WestVet’s current location.

The hospital design was a two-year undertaking. Brourman consulted with veterinary professionals and architects in the development of the progressive and innovative facility. The new state-of-the-art care center will allow WestVet specialists to better serve Idaho pets and area family veterinarians that utilize its services.

The present-day 11,000 sq. foot hospital, located on Sawyer Ave., in Garden City, was built in 2001 and expanded in 2007. However, as the need for veterinary specialty care has grown, WestVet’s veterinary team and support staff has expanded—making the current facility insufficient to serve the growing caseload. In addition to serving Northwest pets and owners, the state-of-the-art hospital will serve as a notable factor in recruiting veterinary students, interns, and residents to the Gem state.

Construction began last week and is expected to be completed in late 2016. During construction, WestVet remains open and will continue to provide 24-hour emergency care and the full spectrum of specialty services. As the new hospital is completed, Ann Selander, WestVet Hospital Administrator, is coordinating the logistics to ensure no disruption in emergency services and a minimal interruption in specialty care.

WestVet is locally owned by Dr. Brourman, Dr. John Chandler, and Dr. Carrie Breaux.WestVet will be Idaho's advanced and progressive veterinary 24/7 hospital It is Idaho’s only multi-specialty, 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. In October 2015, WestVet achieved Level 1 certification from the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Society (VECCS). This distinction places the WestVet among the top 1% of veterinary hospitals in the country; only 18 veterinary emergency centers have earned that honor.

Current veterinary specialties provided at WestVet include surgery, internal medicine, emergency/critical care, ophthalmology, radiology, oncology, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, physiotherapy, pathology, and feline behavior. WestVet is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all holidays.

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