It’s been another insanely busy couple of weeks, with some 22 additional intakes since the May 9 update and another one on the way tomorrow AM by way of the game warden. I’ve been threatening to change my name, run away and join the circus, and become a lion tamer, as it would have to be a calmer, saner life than I’m currently leading!
This will be another photo-heavy update, as there are lots of neat pix to share. Let’s start with the squirrels who, if you recall from the last update, were doing well except for the solid food thing. They now have that down pat—oh boy, do they! Their nicknames are Helletseat and Tubolard (oh, come on, people; it’s a play on Heloise & Abelard!).
The wood ducks are growing by leaps and bounds and will need a flight pen soon.
One of the two possums from the last update keeled over for no apparent reason, but the other is doing well and is rapidly approaching release size—possums aren’t released based on age but on physical size. They begin to self-feed fairly soon after their eyes open and from then on it’s just a matter of keeping them properly nourished until they’re big enough to send on their way.
Two additional possums arrived recently, too, and are growing nicely. One of them had pretty severe ant bites and I really felt like he was a bit “iffy” but meds and fluids did the trick and he and his sister are just cute little rascals!
Only one of the bluebirds ended up surviving; she’s in the flight pen with the cardinal now and both are slated for release tomorrow as long as it’s not too windy.
Female bluebirds have slightly less brilliant feathers than males; the spots on this little girl identify her as a juvenile.
While juvenile cardinals of both sexes resemble the mature female, this little guy's feathers seem to be taking on the distinctive red that will mark him as a young male.
These fledgling Carolina wrens were rescued from dogs.
Two mockers and seven Carolina wrens are also currently in the flight pen. I adore Carolina wrens; they’re just irrepressibly cheerful little birds. You just have to smile when you see ‘em!
Two of the seven came in as fledglings (at right); the other five were recent hatches when their mother flew into a window near her nest and broke her neck. The female can care for her babies alone; the male cannot, so the human family who’d been watching this little avian family’s progress stepped in to save the hatchlings. Below are photos of their progress from the day they arrived until yesterday—their first day in the flight pen!
On intake, May 14
Amazing how quickly the little rascals grow, isn’t it? (Only 4 of the 7 total are shown here; the others were on another perch.)
LWR also has a young turkey in residence at the moment. Turkeys are notorious for dying in rehab; the leading bird rehab manual actually states (paraphrasing slightly), “Rehabbers across the nation report little success with turkeys; please consider having yours necropsied.” (A necropsy is the animal version of a human autopsy.) So far this little guy’s holding his own, and I’m holding my breath (it’s a figure of speech, people; I’d be dead if I were really holding my breath!).
This fawn was attacked by dogs. He was small enough to fit neatly in the circular laundry basket the couple who rescued him placed him in for transport. Unfortunately, there was too much damage: his jaw and nose were both broken, he had puncture wounds to his skull, and see that bloody trail leading from his eye? That’s the front of his eyeball. The dogs apparently grabbed him by the face. Obviously, this poor baby was euthanized. Normally, the vets at Smalley’s & I discuss possible treatment options before euthanizing, but vet Shelley Baumann took one look at this little one and retrieved the euthanasia solution. Sometimes all we can do is end their suffering.
And why throw this horrific image in the midst of all the cuteness? To remind y’all that wildlife rehab isn’t all cute and cuddly—it’s frequently bloody, heartbreaking and frustrating.
The young hawks are also starting to show up; these two red shoulder babies came in the same afternoon. As you can see, the younger of the two is still quite downy—definitely cute but NOT cuddly. His talons and beak are already capable of, as the old folks say, puttin’ a hurtin’ on you!
Both the hawks are now with Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends raptor rehab; he reports that they’re bottomless pits. (There's nothing wrong with his left eye; it's a flash reflection!)
And finally, we have this fledgling blue jay, who came in just yesterday. I adore blue jays, too—as the smallest members of the crow family, they’re extremely smart birds. This little guy’s still sizing up his new situation, but I can see the wheels turning as he cocks his head and looks me over, already trying to figure out just what he can get away with!
Normally, I advise people to leave uninjured fledglings alone, as their parents are still feeding them while they learn to forage for themselves and develop their flight abilities. If, however, the fledgling is in imminent danger (from a dog, a cat or some other predator) then it’s best to intervene. In the cases of the two fledgling wrens and the fledgling blue jay, dogs and cats were the reasons people intervened—the birds’ lives were threatened, so removing them from danger was the proper thing to do.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, this is only the second night in over two months that it looks as if I’ll be able to stagger to bed before 1 AM…only to resume feedings five hours later…