Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Happy Ending

The evening of Tues, March 10th I received a phone call at home from Department of Natural Resources Game Warden Dave Walz. I live in Jefferson County and have often met Dave to pick up injured animals to bring to the Center. Dave had rescued an owl that had been tangled in netting at a game bird farm near Ashippun.

He had cut the owl free but didn’t know how long it had been struggling or how severely it was injured. Since it was late, we made arrangements for him to let the owl rest overnight with him and then he dropped it by my house early the next morning for me to bring to the Center. The next morning I discovered it was a small male Great Horned Owl and that he was pretty grouchy about being in captivity.

Upon examination, Animal Care staff discovered minor abrasions and a sprained leg and wing from struggling while tangled in the netting. We wanted to give him a couple days to recover, but we were also concerned to get him released to origin as soon as possible.

Why would we send him back to the area where his injuries had occurred? First of all, raptors are territorial and that was his territory. Also, if he had a mate, she would be sitting on their babies to keep them warm. As the male in the family, he would be expected to do most of the hunting for her and the babies in addition to himself. While he was here we had several warm nights so hopefully mom could safely leave the babies for a short while to hunt.

On Sunday, March 14th after work, I drove Mr. Great Horned (as we lovingly referred to this stout little guy during his stay) back home. There was a long gravel driveway to a ridge that dropped away towards the property where I parked my vehicle. He was footing (grabbing with his talons) the door in his excitement by this time. I opened the door, he took one hop onto the road, then threw out his wings and flung himself into the air.

He soared off the ridge, down over the valley, past a pond and landed in a tree to get his bearings. It was so beautiful to see him fly off into the sunset. I hope he got back to his mate in time to help care for his young - Although I do wonder just how he will explain his absence of several nights to his mate. “Really, honey, I was hunting for mice and this stuff grabbed me. And then these aliens abducted me and took me somewhere and performed medical procedures on me…”

Guest Blogger LR
Here's a sneak peak at someone you'll be hearing about in the next couple of weeks... stay tuned

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Information Overload

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium 2010 Preserve the Wild in Wildlife

This year I was given the wonderful opportunity to represent WINC at the NWRA symposium in Seattle, WA. My excitement was overflowing as I arrived in Seattle and saw wildlife rehabilitators roaming the halls of the hotel as I got settled in for the first day of lectures.

Lecture topics this year covered everything from raptors to mammals, pharmacology, reptiles & amphibians, songbirds, aquatic birds, veterinary medicine, education, fundraising and even administration! Lectures were offered almost all day, with some days having them from 8:00AM to 9:00PM! There were always four different lectures and/or workshops going on at the same time, so participants really had to choose what they wanted to attend. That task is easier said then done when you are trying to gather information for an entire staff!

After the first day I was already in a state of information overload - the good kind. I could not wait to wake up the next morning and continue soaking up more information. I must admit my favorite part is learning all the little easy tips that lecturers share openly. Things as simple as making sure baby mammals are housed with soft fabrics that are natural colors, and not hot pink; or with adult patients that are outside, always scattering food items to stimulate natural foraging as enrichment. Even playing the calls of the songbirds you are raising two or three times a day can help them develop their song and identity. These little things are easy ways we can move towards making our wild patients feel more at home when they are with us.

Now that I’m back in Wisconsin I am still gathering all my thoughts as I try to retain everything I experienced. Many tips and strategies that I learned will be able to be put into practice at WINC as we head into baby season within the next couple of weeks. As always, going to the national symposium has inspired me as a rehabber to be enthusiastic about what I do for a living all over again. I look forward to following the NWRA symposium theme this year and do the best I can to help our center “preserve the wild in wildlife.”

Feel free to check our website or give us a call anytime if you have questions or want to find out how to support educational opportunities like this for our staff and volunteers.

Guest blogger -MF

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

And so it was sweet sorrow for the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife in Need Center, as Romeo and Juliet, the Barred Owls were released on Sunday, March 14th, after twenty-nine days of hydration, weight gain and flight therapy. A small crowd gathered in Menomonee Falls, as staff, volunteers, neighbors and the homeowners witnessed the owl’s flight to freedom. The release was set for 6:00 p.m., a time when the impending dusk would allow for better camouflaging should there be any potential predators. As the star crossed lovers were released, Romeo flew onto a nearby tree branch, checked his bearings a glided silently out of sight. Juliet though, much to everyone’s surprise, landed on a nearby chimney similar to the one from which she’d been rescued. Juliet’s stay was thankfully brief, when with a great beat of her wings she was off and flying through the densely wooded lot. I quickly scanned the trees, locating her perched in a distant tree. Through my camera lens I could still see her dark haunting eyes. She stopped in the tree only long enough to take one last look at her captors, as if to say in her silent stare, “Thank you”, then she was gone.

Good-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.
-Juliet, Act II, scene ii
Guest Blogger -KF

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Fever

Everyone here is gearing up for this exciting and busy time of year. One of the ways we do that is by hosting a Pancake Breakfast and Baby Shower for all of our friends and neighbors. So, if you want to help us help them and you also want to enjoy some great food, catch-up with friends and staff, visit with our educational ambassadors and more then join us:

Sunday, March 21st, 2010
Dousman/Ottawa Lions Club 231 Main Street Dousman
(map link)

Nearly every one of us will be looking forward to fall by the end of June, but it’s March and right now everyone’s got baby fever. If you’ve never seen the winsome look of an infant gray squirrel, heard the *peep* of a mallard duckling, or watched young raccoons interact with each other, than you may not fully understand. The hundreds of past, present and future volunteers for the Wildlife In Need Center do though.

From April through September hundreds of orphaned wild animals will find their way to our doors. Our office staff and volunteers try to ensure that each of them gets the chance to be reunited with their families when possible, but even the best intentions aren’t always enough to make a reunion happen so many will still find their way here. One such situation has led us to the earliest admission of an infant gray squirrel to the Center ever recorded! Here’s a brief of the story:

A mother squirrel had found herself a cozy spot in the upper insulation near the ceiling of someone’s basement and when the homeowner went to investigate she ran and hid leaving her just-born litter behind. Volunteers from the Center gathered up the little ones and set a trap for mom. Once she was captured she was reunited with her new family and has been residing in an outdoor enclosure for the past few days. We hope that by the end of the week the homeowners will have been able to repair the area where she had gotten in and we will re-nest her and her family with a new nest-box to call home instead. These are always sensitive cases because if mom is too stressed or scared she won’t be able to properly care for her young and the results could be very sad, but the outlook is good for this little family and we hope to update you with how things go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hooos Out There!

In 2009, the Wildlife in Need Center was involved in eleven rescues of baby Great Horned owls, or owlets as they are called. Owlets often have to be rescued when the strong winds of late March and early April blow. Great Horned owls do not build their own nests, but take over old crow and squirrel nests and if those nests are in disrepair, it is very easy for an owlet to tumble out, especially when it is windy. An owlet on the ground is especially vulnerable to predators as they are unable to fly. Crows can often be heard “cawing” when there is an owl in the neighborhood. There is nothing they would like better than to pick on an unsuspecting grounded owlet. Usually if someone from the public is aware of owls in their yard and if a tragedy like this would occur, they will call and notify the Center.

To satisfy my curiosity about owl activity in the area this year, I called many of the rescue locations from the previous year. I’m happy to report, that over half of the contacts to date are reporting a lot of hooting. Several individuals have seen adult owls in trees in their yards. Great Horned owlets have even hatched at some locations. Follow this link to the WE-Energies website There you can see two owlets snuggling under the feathers of its mother at 3PM today. At the Center last year, we rescued owlets from late March to late April. In my next blog, I’ll write more about the renesting process. I’ll leave you with this picture, courtesy of a homeowner from one of last year’s re-nesting sites. These two owls are nest mates shown shortly after they fledged last year.

-KF (aka CBL)