The Allure of the Wild

Many people crave a close connection to nature. The allure of wild animals freely roaming the land and the mystery of the deep, dark woods has a strong pull for many. Sometimes, that craving for a deep connection to what is wild takes a troubling turn.

Above, the northern cardinal in his mesh enclosure.
Watch a video of this cardinal!

All too often, the Wildlife Services department at VINS takes in birds who have been kept illegally by members of the public for days, weeks, months and even years. While in some cases, the person was just trying to help an injured bird and thought they were doing the right thing by keeping the bird in their care, other times people take in baby birds or injured birds and can’t resist the temptation to keep the wild animal as a pet. This is both illegal (under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) and cruel to the bird. While many people’s hearts are in the right place when they take a bird into their care, they simply don’t know the proper way to care for a wild bird. Wild animals must always be brought to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

In December, a northern cardinal was brought to the VINS Wildlife Services department for care. The bright red bird spent five years in the home of a person unlicensed to care for wild birds. While this person indeed cared deeply for the bird, his actions ultimately prevented the bird from living a wild life.

The man had found the cardinal as a baby, and raised him on his own. While the bird’s health is now stable, he did come with some nutritional deficiencies and of course, an inability to survive on his own in the wild. The cardinal is now on a natural diet, and when the current cold snap is over, he’ll be moved to our outdoor songbird exhibit. The exhibit is a beautiful set-up for the public’s viewing pleasure, complete with growing trees, perches, roost boxes and heat lamps. It currently includes one bohemian waxwing, one cedar waxwing, a pine grosbeak and two mourning doves.


  1. Jessica on February 5, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    The last intake of my VINS internship…he's such a handsome dude! I can't wait to come down and visit him once he's outside. ~Hugs, Jess

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