A huge and heartfelt thank you to all who donated to keep LWR in operation. Your generosity raised $2678 in less than a week, and on behalf of all the critters who will benefit from your largesse, again, thank you!
It’s been a busy week, between critter care and editing. I’m operating at the moment on exactly ZERO hours’ sleep in…41 hours as I ready this for the website. I highly DO NOT recommend you try this at home, boys and girls; the resultant bags under my eyes would count as extra luggage with most major airlines!
No new birds in the flight pen yet. I have several who are flight pen ready, but as most of you along the eastern seaboard know, we’re having an oppressive heat wave, and I won’t put anything in a pen in this heat. When they can fly freely outside, it’s one thing; being penned up, even in the shade, is another entirely.
The brown thrasher, two more mockers, and a cowbird will head for the flight pen as soon as the heat wave dissipates a bit. Below are photos of the thrasher and the cowbird.
Cowbirds are kinda cute little babies, but as adults they honestly annoy me. They’re freeloaders, laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, where the intruder hatchling will sometimes push the “real” babies out of the nest as he grows—or the “real” babies will starve to death as the parents put all their effort into feeding that one always-gaping beak.
How dumb could a bird be not to recognize its own babies, you ask? Consider that the female has brooded that egg and hatched that baby—in her eyes, it IS her own baby. Also, speaking from my own experience working with birds, once you get into the “stuff gaping beaks” mode, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to feed anything that screams for food. I was once pumping gas and heard a fledgling mocker begging in the bushes to the side of the gas station…I had left the pump and was halfway across the parking lot before I realized a) it wasn’t one of my rehabs and b) I didn’t have the songbird formula and feeding syringes in my hand!
Two of the four barn swallows didn’t make it. The runt came as no surprise; he died shortly after the last update. Honestly, his developmentally challenged sib’s death wasn’t much of a surprise, either. He just wasn’t growing and filling out; his feathers weren’t coming in right; he was sluggish… He put up a good fight, and I really thought we’d turned the corner and he was gonna make it, albeit as a possibly nonreleasable bird, which would have presented logistical problems since barn swallows migrate to Central and South America for the winter. The other two gorgeous little darlings should be ready for the flight pen no later than the end of the week, temperatures allowing. Barn swallows are such little sweethearts…
This adult grackle was found in someone’s carport, missing all but one tail feather. My assumption was probable cat attack, although the only sign of injury was the missing tail feathers. Still, cat saliva is toxic to birds, so I started him on antibiotics just in case. I think grackles, with their striking yellow eyes in that iridescent purple-black face, are gorgeous, even if they do sound somewhat like a strangled frog. Unfortunately, this guy didn’t make it.
Adult cardinals are aggressive little snots, so when this bird came in with a mild concussion, I was happy to observe him overnight and release him. To be honest, when the call came in, I started wracking my brain to try and guess what I was picking up—the caller described the bird as “kinda blackish with a red head.” All I could come up with was a red headed woodpecker, so I was really halfway expecting a woodpecker…instead, it was this pretty fellow. The way I’m holding him is called the bander’s hold: it restrains the bird while not interfering with his breathing.
And speaking of mistaken identities, this call is too good not to share: the caller said she had a possum in her yard and wanted to know if I’d come trap it. I explained that I don’t do nuisance animal removal; I care for orphaned, injured and ill wildlife. And then, because I really do think possums are neat, I went into my whole spiel about how beneficial they are, eating snakes (they’re impervious to the venom of a rattlesnake), slugs, roaches and other nasty creepy-crawlies; their body temperature is too low to harbor most diseases, including rabies, etc., etc.
I’d not finished good before she asked, “But don’t they carry rabies?”
*sigh* I repeat that they don’t…Hang on; we’re getting to the good part now… “Exactly what does a possum look like? Do they have hair?”
I bite my tongue REAL hard and explain that they have fur but not on their very long tails and that their faces are very long and narrow. “No, this one’s got hair.”
*sigh* “Okay, does he have a black mask on his face and a ringed tail?”
“Yeah, that’s him!”
“Ma’am, that’s a raccoon…They do carry diseases they can pass to you and your pets, including rabies; you might want to call a nuisance animal trapper if taking up the cat food at night for a few weeks doesn’t work.”
“Well, I live in XXXX, who would I call?”
“I have no clue; I don’t live in XXXX…Try the phone book to see who’s listed…”
Honestly, people, I *cannot* make up stuff this good…
Many of my recent releases are still coming down for supplemental feedings; the blue jay cracked me up this afternoon, swooping down and begging for food…with a HUGE grasshopper in his beak! He gulped it down and hunched his shoulders to flutter his wings like a baby for food from me. All the literature says blue jays are slow to independence…that’s just a polite way of saying they’re shameless but irresistible beggars! Here are a few shots of some of my moochers.
Great crested flycatcher
Red bellied woodpecker
L-R, great crested flycatcher, blue jay, mocker, brown thrasher
This gorgeous juvenile female red tailed hawk was found in the middle of a park road. The finder had been watching the nestlings jump-flapping for several days, and apparently she jumped when she should have flapped or vice versa. At any rate, when he saw a crowd of people, he went over to investigate and found them standing around staring at her. He took his jacket and scooped her up, taking her to safety before calling me. She was severely dehydrated and shell-shocked the first night, unable to stand.
The next day she was slightly more alert and eating on her own, but still weak.
The third day she stood, and the fourth day I have no shots of, as while I was getting her ready for transfer she clambered out of her box and let me know she was feeling much better, thanks! Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends raptor rehab has her now, and thanks once again to volunteers Laurie Jackson and Amy Rogers for “ponying” this girl to him.
And finally, this is apparently shaping up to be the year of the hummer. I briefly added a third hummer to the mix; unfortunately, he didn’t make it through his first 24 hours. He was found near a business, so we’re guessing he whacked the plate-glass window hard enough to cause internal injuries.
Hummer 1, with the broken wing, is scooting along nicely but we’ll probably have to make a call on him soon; he keeps grabbing that dangling wing in repeated attempts to use it as a perch, and he’s got the leading edge of it irritated. This is going to be an ongoing issue for him, and it will soon enough become a quality of life issue. I’m giving him as long as possible, though.
Hummer 2, the little pre-fledgling, fledged for me this week and is thoroughly charming me as she flutters down to demand her syringe feeding. She flies like a pro now but until she can eat from a feeder on her own, she’s not releasable. We’re working on that, but in the meantime, I cannot seem to stop taking pictures of her, so…enjoy all these shots of this gorgeous little girl!
I hate to sound sensationalistic or hysterical about it, but folks, the funds are gone and it’s only mid-year. Due to an overabundance of admiration, respect and "attagirls" and a corresponding lack of firm financial support, LWR simply does not have sufficient funds to see us through the remainder of this year. Currently we have app. 36 frozen rodents for raptors, which will be about enough to feed one hawk or owl for one week. We are in dire need of funds for mealworms for songbirds, as well as gas money to pick up these various critters from pretty much the entire southern half of the state of Georgia, from Macon to the Florida line, and drive them to the vet as needed. Our reserve funds, set aside to build a raptor flight pen and renovate our songbird flight pen, have instead been required for gas, wildlife food and related supplies. Folks, I'm dead serious about this; without additional funding, when the paltry sum I have left (under $100, so it won't last long) and the current food supplies are exhausted, I cannot care for any more wildlife this year. The cost of supplies continues to rise. I'm at 10% over my intake level for the first six months of last year, and this month's not over yet. I've already had three calls today. Last year on this date I'd racked up 2667 miles on wildlife calls; this year it's 4254--and this is meeting people halfway!
I’ve set up an online fundraiser through GoFundMe, with a goal of $1200 to at least get me to the end of the year without having to turn away animals: http://www.gofundme.com/ryjb4
. Alternately, every page on this website has a PayPal donation button, or you can mail donations to Laurens Wildlife Rescue, 1101-L Hillcrest Pkwy, PMB #255, Dublin, GA 31021 . Don't sit back and wait for "someone else" to donate--YOU are someone else!
In less depressing news, the flight pen is once again nearly empty, as two of the three flycatchers, all the mockers and most of the moochers are out now. Below are a couple of shots of the released flycatchers.
The pre-fledgling brown thrasher is perching now but not attempting to fly yet.
LWR received two hummers this week, from separate people. Hummer 1 has a broken wing; vet Shelley Baumann of Smalley’s Animal Hospital and I decided to try wrapping it, as he came in soon enough after the injury for there to be a possibility of the bone healing correctly. Hummer metabolisms are so high that broken bones begin setting as soon as 24 hours after injury. Unfortunately, despite Shelley’s lovely wrap job, Hummer 1 managed to tangle his foot in the bandage and wrap it all around his neck in an attempt to rid himself of the offending thing—maybe he didn’t like the color? We thought it coordinated well with his feathers…His chances of release are slim, but we’ll wait and see what happens.
Three days later, Hummer 2 came in; she appears to be just a juvy who was unnested somehow. She flutters her wings like crazy and gets a little lift but not enough to fly yet. She also still gapes for food, which is utterly adorable. Here are some shots of her with Hummer 1.
This downy barn owl was mistaken for a downy vulture and thus fed an inappropriate diet for 36 hours before I got him. Because he’s so young—just 10 days old—and had been on the wrong diet for over 2 days, he was transferred to Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends raptor rehab the day after intake. Downy barnies require specialized care, especially when they’re down nutritionally.
These barn swallows’ nest was destroyed; the rescuer had seen mockers dive-bombing the parents earlier in the day. They were fed milk and bread for several hours before I got them. (Repeat after me, class: “Birds don’t have boobs; they cannot digest milk.”) Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to’ve done any lasting damage. The runt of the clutch probably hatched 24-48 hours after his older sibs. It’s not common in songbirds, but it can happen, and the late hatch is usually at a severe disadvantage, developmentally and nutritionally. The parents will feed the nestlings who gape and beg the most vigorously, leaving the runt to basically die of starvation, as he cannot compete with his older sibs. In this case, because these babies are in rehab, the runt will actually have a chance at survival. It’s not guaranteed by any means, but so far he’s doing pretty well for a scrawny little runt!
Photos above were taken on 6-20-12, day of intake. Photos below were taken today, 6-23-12.
Enjoy this update, as it may be the last with photos of intakes. Without operating funds, I’ll be unable to take in more critters. Most people LWR accepts animals from blithely assume that “someone else” will pay for the care and feeding of the animal; I’m often asked point-blank on the phone if it will cost them anything for me to take the animal. I’m not allowed by state and federal regulations to require payment to accept an animal; all I can do is suggest that a donation would help. “You’re so wonderful”; “I admire you so much”; “I just respect you for what you do”; and “God bless you” are NOT cash in hand to care for these animals. The public—that’s YOU, too—needs to step up and take ownership of our native wildlife by supporting me and other rehabbers with more than just praise and pats on the back. As I’ve said frequently in this space, respect and admiration don’t fill feathered crops or furry bellies. It takes cash to buy the supplies for that, and it takes cash to fill the gas tank to meet people with wildlife or take critters to the vet. Please help if you’re able; the thought of having to turn away wildlife in need sickens me.
Thankfully, things have slowed down a bit—only two new intakes since last week’s update, which has given me time to breathe (and SLEEP!!) a bit. It won’t last, but it’s a welcome break right now!
All the birds who were in the flight pen last week are out…and in…and out again…They’ve discovered how to return whenever they please, and it pleases about half of them to hang out in the flight pen most of the day, with the great crested flycatchers and the mockers, who are now awaiting their turn at freedom. It won’t be long; the flycatchers are getting antsy and snapping at flying insects, which is a good sign! The flycatchers are just adorable birds, with their loud, emphatic “WHEEP!” and their cheerful little personalities.
Below are some shots of the released birds in the trees around the flight pen.
Gray catbird sunning
Mourning dove and brown thrasher
The red bellied woodpecker hangs out in two trees right at the flight pen, and I have to admit I’m rather inordinately fond of him. For one thing, I just like woodpeckers in general—they’re neat birds. For another, unlike so many other releases, he actually comes down where I can supplemental-feed him, instead of perching 30 feet above me and screaming for food. Woodpeckers are actually pretty darn smart birds; it took him all of one hour to figure out that coming down the tree trunk or clinging to the outside of the flight pen would result in food!
The fawn from last week has been transferred to another rehabber, necessitating loading all the birds who hadn’t been moved to the flight pen at that point into the car and driving 90 miles round-trip on one hour’s sleep…the things we do for these critters…he’s better off with the other rehabber, who had four other fawns to place him with, so he’ll learn to be a deer and not imprint on humans. Deer are incredibly time-consuming and expensive to rehab, and even though the family member’s dog I mentioned last week decided—after a few well-aimed blasts from an air rifle—that the deer pen really wasn’t that interesting, after all, there was just no way I could take on multiple fawns and give them and the birds the care they needed. Feathers trump fur for me, any day, so…enjoy these shots of the little guy before transfer.
This adorable little downy broadwing hawk was found by a local sheriff’s deputy during a search for marijuana in the woods of a neighboring county. He was on the ground with no nest in sight, so the local law enforcement boxed him up, called LWR, and met me at a halfway point. He and the screech from last week’s update were transferred to Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends today—thanks to volunteers Laurie Jackson and Amy Rogers, who “pony expressed” them to Steve!
And this afternoon, this pretty little brown thrasher came in. He’s pretty close to fledging, maybe another two or three days—still refuses to perch, which is a good sign he’s out of the nest too soon. The person who rescued him saw him on the ground and was going to leave him alone until he saw a cat headed in that direction, at which point he scooped up the thrasher and called LWR.
Brown thrashers, catbirds and mockingbirds are in the same family, but thrashers don’t really resemble their smaller cousins to me. Besides being slightly larger, their beaks are longer, and as adults, they have striking yellow eyes. That long beak is used to thrash around in the underbrush in search of insects, hence the name. The brown thrasher is Georgia’s state bird, which means I have a bit of a soft spot for them, too…Yeah, yeah, I know—I say that about nearly every bird I rehab!
It’s been insanely busy around here since the June 3 update, hence the tardiness of this one. We’ll just focus on some of the more interesting intakes, for the sake of time and because really, how many photos of the same species doing the same thing can anyone take before getting bored stiff looking at them? We won’t risk that!
These two sets of mockers came in late last week; the older birds were a transfer from rehabber Korey Henderson of Valdosta. They were found in a truck bed…after the truck had been driven some distance and parked in several different locations. No way to renest these babies!
The younger set came in after their nest fell during a rainstorm, and the finders were reluctant to leave them on the ground in the rain. Had the weather been clear, they more than likely could have been reunited with their parents, but given the torrential rains we’ve had lately, leaving them exposed would have resulted in death from drowning, hypothermia or predators.
A hailstorm unnested this young screech owl; the finders did the right thing when they saw him grounded after the storm by leaving him alone and observing from a secluded area. This little guy is still not flighted, though, so when they saw cats moving in, they rescued him and called LWR.
He’s still young enough that his mice have to be chopped into small pieces for him to eat them; he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of using his feet to assist with holding and tearing prey.
When a snake raided their nest just days before they fledged, these three great crested flycatchers leapt to safety but ended up grounded, as they were still unable to fly. Per my suggestion, the finders put them in a small plastic bowl and placed it as high as possible in the tree, but near dark, all the parents had done was fly around scolding, and these babies had gotten hungry. One was grounded again, one was clinging for dear life to the tree trunk, and one was sitting on the edge of the bowl begging for food.
Great crested flycatchers tend to be somewhat shy birds, and getting these babies so close to fledging could have been problematic in terms of feeding. After two days of “negotiations,” however, we reached détente, and now I’ve been ratcheted up to “most favored person” status.
The little darlings fledged last night, leaving me laughing uncontrollably as they flew out of their pen, one by one, chattering excitedly. They’ll be moved to the flight pen as soon as space allows. This time of year, my pens and cages are like a Depression-era flophouse: the bedding has no time to cool from the previous occupant before the new occupant hops in.
When a barred owl family nested in her back yard for several years, this young fellow’s rescuer was delighted. She was less than thrilled this weekend, however, to find this fellow hung in the lines she used to hang her bird feeders. She untangled him and was worried about his right wing, so she called LWR Sunday. Mr. Attitude (and all of it bad) got a clean bill of health at Smalley’s Animal Hospital yesterday, where he amused vets Peggy Hobby and Shellie Baumann and me to no end with his displays of aggression during the exam. He’ll be returned to his rescuer late this afternoon, to be reunited with his family in her back yard.
For those wondering about the fate of the juvie GHO from the last update, his wing injury was indeed fatal. I also lost the wood duck, apparently to a heart attack, as he was old enough to be past the stress-death phase. It’s a general rule of wildlife rehab that some 50% of the animals that enter rehab will not leave alive; I witness this on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. And yes, it sucks, and around this time of year, my attitude gets really bad, from stress, lack of sleep, too many euthanasias and deaths, too little money in the coffers, and just flat-out exhaustion.
Contributing to my overall lousy mood, LWR had a fawn come in last night. Because of a family member’s dog who refuses to stay out of my yard and away from my deer pen if it’s occupied, I’ve been sending deer calls to other rehabbers. The guy who rescued this baby after finding him in the road and his mother dead on the side of the road called me; I referred him to two other rehabbers and the state list of licensed rehabbers. After several hours and five calls with no responses, he called me back and I agreed to take the fawn until I could arrange transfer to someone else. We’re in the process now of trying to work out a transfer ASAP. I have neither the time, patience nor funds to deal with a deer this year, nor do I especially like having to fend off the aforementioned dog just to get into the deer pen and then have him snapping, barking and digging outside, scaring the fawn half to death. Besides, he needs to be with other deer so as not to imprint on humans. Imprinted deer, especially bucks—and he is a young buck—can be very dangerous when they hit sexual maturity and go into rut, because they have no fear of people and even view them as rivals, to be attacked and driven away.
The flight pen birds, some of whom are pictured below, are all ready for release as soon as we have three consecutive days with little or no rain predicted. Because Georgia needs the rain so badly, however, I’m not complaining—they’ll be fine in the flight pen for another couple of days while we get the much-needed moisture!
The answer to that is “no,” not during baby season, anyway! Lots of photos, so I’ll go light on text this week (meaning no soapbox rants…this week).
The finches have been released and made it quite clear that they didn’t need or want supplemental feedings from me, so no post-release shots of them; sorry. Seed-eaters will sometimes get the hang of total self-feeding in the flight pen and then when they’re released, it’s “so long and thanks, lady.”
The mocker and catbird are in the flight pen, as are the brown thrashers and a blue jay and a cowbird who came in this week. (All are shown below in the order listed here.)
The possums have been released and growled and “grinned” their way away from me. These two have to’ve been the most aggressive little snots I can ever remember having!
The wood duckling continues his growth and paranoia. I swear, I sometimes wonder how these birds ever mate, as paranoid as they are about every living creature around them!
Yet another minor-injury box turtle came in, was treated and observed for 24 hours and released.
This unidentified hatchling wasn’t as lucky. I told his finder that his chances were not good, as his belly looked very bruised and was hard, indicating internal injuries. He died less than 12 hours after intake.
This young red shoulder hawk was kept illegally by falconers who strung along three different rehabbers for a week before finally getting the bird to me. I’ve already transferred him to Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends
Birds are found in the strangest places…this pre-fledgling red bellied woodpecker was found in the middle of a busy street. I think all woodpeckers are neat, but red bellieds are probably my favorites, maybe because I see them most often in rehab.
And earlier this week, yet another common loon came in! Rehabber Korey Henderson of Valdosta, near the Florida line, contacted me about this guy, a young loon who doesn’t have his adult plumage yet, and through a new network of volunteer transporters, the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association, he was with me the next day. Korey had observed some favoring of the left leg, so I kept him an additional night for observation and didn’t see any problems—because of their body shape and leg placement, loons look really awkward when you can see their legs at work in the water, especially when they preen, and it took me several loon intakes and numerous e-mails to a loon research center to learn what’s normal for them.
After 24 hours’ observation, he was released on the river, where he put on an exuberant juvenile display of delight to be back in “real” water and not a tub!
Finally, at 8:30 tonight this juvenile great horned owl (GHO) came in after being extricated from a barbed wire fence. For the record, I hate barbed wire. His right wing has some flesh wounds and is broken, how badly I don’t know yet. We’ll get x-rays tomorrow morning to see how bad the damage is, but historically, these situations haven’t ended well for the GHO. I’m hopeful but not optimistic…and will be delighted if I’m able to announce next week that I was wrong in my pre-x-ray assessment.