Baby least tern injured in fall

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A least tern was among the 98 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a black racer, three gopher tortoises, a swallow-tailed kite, a black vulture, a burrowing owl, and two red-tailed hawks.

The least tern was found by a gentleman in the parking lot at a large retail store. The man was incredibly kind, he brought the nestling tern to the hospital and borrowed a net in case he saw any other babies in need of help.

Due to the lack of available beach space for nesting, many least terns have altered their behavior and now nest on shopping center rooftops. As the precocial baby terns explore their surroundings they can easily fall off the rooftops leaving them stranded and often times seriously injured.

The least tern was injured in the fall and required pain medications. The tern was placed in an animal intensive care unit in the nursery at the hospital. The goal is to try and return the tern to the rooftop so it can be reunited with the parents. Least terns are a state-designated threatened species. Every bird is important to the survival of the species.

We are incredibly grateful the gentleman was so kind and offered assistance. If you see an animal that looks to be injured, ill or orphaned, take action. Contain the animal in a ventilated box and bring it to the wildlife hospital. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is open every day from 8am to 8pm.

Recent Releases

Six mourning doves, eleven mottled ducks, a grey squirrel, three northern mockingbirds, a brown thrasher, a burrowing owl, a red-shouldered hawk, two eastern cottontails, a great blue heron, a red-bellied woodpecker, an evening bat, a Virginia opossum, two brown pelicans, an American Crow, two double-crested cormorants and a rose-breasted grosbeak were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers help in many different capacities and are vital to the success of our work. If you think you could dedicate one shift a week to help in the hospital, contact our volunteer office and get involved. This time of year is incredibly busy with all the young wildlife being admitted. Our volunteers are vital to our mission. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships truly help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

A week inside the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Weekly blog from Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Conservancy of SWFL

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Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.

A week inside the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Weekly blog from Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.