Wildlife Myths

WoodpeckerWoodpeckers do not kill trees.

Many people believe that woodpeckers kill trees, but this is not true! Woodpeckers use their strong beaks to chip holes into dead or dying trees to feed on the bugs that are breaking down the already decaying wood. Woodpeckers also excavate nesting holes in live trees, but they use a weakened area of the tree—one that has been infected by disease or fungus—where the wood is softer and easier to remove.

In the spring, if a woodpecker is making non-stop noise by knocking on your favourite tree, please be patient. The woodpecker is not trying to kill your tree; he is trying to attract a mate, and soon you will have a family of woodpeckers living nearby!

PorcupinePorcupines do not throw their quills.

Many people believe that porcupines can throw their quills at you, but this is not true! Porcupines have approximately 30,000 barbed quills on their back and their tail. They are slow-moving creatures, so they need this extra protection against predators. When a predator approaches, the porcupine turns its back to the predator and puffs up. If the predator gets too close, the porcupine will swat it with its tail. Once the quill-filled tail makes contact with the predator’s skin, the barbs on the quills hold on to the predator and the quills come out of the porcupine. Quills take anywhere from ten days to six months to grow back.

HareWild animals will not reject their babies if a human touches them.

Many people think that if you touch a baby hare or baby bird the parents will no longer care for them. This is not true. Baby hares are born with very little scent. This helps them hide from predators. The mother leaves her babies alone, except for dusk and dawn feedings, so that her scent does not attract predators to her babies.

If someone picks a baby hare up thinking that it is orphaned, and then puts it back once they realize the hare should be on its own, the mom will come back and feed it. We suggest you rub the baby hare with grass to remove the human scent. This will help protect the baby hare from predators such as cats and dogs that are attracted to human scent. The mother hare will feed her babies even if she detects human scent.

Did you know that most birds have a very poorly developed sense of smell? If a baby bird falls out of its nest and you pick it up and place it back in, the parents will continue to care for that baby and not even notice your scent. We suggest using a towel to pick up a baby bird to place it back in the nest so it does not get human scent on it and attract a predator, such as a cat or dog.

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