Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What’s that Bird?

“My granddaughter came over to visit and she has found a baby bird in the backyard,” says the caller on the other line. Then she says “I think it’s a baby hawk.” Sure, well, the first questions we ask are the same regardless of the type of bird: Are there obvious injuries; does it have feathers or is it still fuzzy; do you know where the nest is; have you seen the parents; how long has it been there… This bird wasn’t too far from us so we recommended bringing it to us so we could evaluate it, especially if it was a young raptor that may need to be re-nested by a trained volunteer.

The granddaughter was a bit older than we had envisioned and she was able to pick the bird up in a shirt; bringing him into the Center in a canvas shopping bag. The most surprising thing about this story however, is that it actually was a juvenile Cooper’s hawk!

Yes, that is what she said it was, but it’s a common occurrence to receive calls about “baby hawks” that turn into infant Mourning Doves when they arrive at the Center. We also get a lot of American Robins - while it’s true we do actually admit numerous robins, many other small birds ranging from European Starlings to Song Sparrows to House Finches come in claiming to be a member of the proud red-breasts as well. We never make people feel bad for not knowing the difference; the truth is there are always patients coming in that even we don’t know at first glance, especially baby birds! By working as a team and with a network; talking to other staff and volunteers, attending conferences, reading journals, posting blogs, and partnering with other rehabilitators however, we find the answers we don’t know and also try our best to share that information. And that’s a good thing because for many of the people we do talk to, there aren’t a lot of other resources for them to get the answers they’re looking for. We love to hear from people that know about and care about our wild neighbors as much as we do, but we love to help people learn about our wild neighbors just as much.

It isn’t something we’re often known for, but we are more than “just an animal charity.” An article in our recent newsletter examined the ways in which we help the people in our communities as well. While we are here for the animals (whatever they may turn out to be) it is the volunteers, members, staff, supporters and community who have always been the heart of the Wildlife In Need Center.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do you know what to do when...

  • you find a cottontail nest in your yard?
  • your cat brings you an injured bird?
  • you see an owl get hit by a passing car?
  • you find a small raccoon near the side of the road?
These are some of the more common situations our wild neighbors find themselves in every day and they need your help! By preventing the situations that may lead to an animal becoming one of our patients, we save just as many lives over the phone as we do in our clinic.

Did you know that the Wildlife In Need Center has recently received a generous grant to fund and enhance our unique internship programs? The generous donation given by the James E. Dutton Foundation has allowed the Center to make more positions available in animal care this summer. Those of you who’ve been around WINC throughout the years know how important animal care interns are during our busy summer months. Their help allows us to increase the quality of care we can provide our patients. The funding will also allow us to offer animal care positions during our off-season as well which will help launch a whole new aspect of research and allow for the best care of all of our future patients.

As our Center grows and our need to educate the communities we serve grows with it, we also plan to expand our internship programs accordingly. Our new partnership with UW-Waukesha means that we are not only enhancing the experiences and learning opportunities provided for the valuable team members to our animal care staff and volunteers, we are also adding new team member positions including marketing and community outreach as well as an education intern.

Most importantly, we are looking for someone to help us launch our environmental education internship program. If you or someone you know is interested in:
  • Learning how to assist the public with wildlife questions
  • Designing educational brochures for children’s programs
  • Creating educational displays for the new educational wing
  • Helping to present educational programs to the public
  • Create and publish educational videos
  • and more...

Learning to live peacefully with wildlife as well as knowing when a wild animal may need our help are just some of the lessons you could share if you were an education intern at the Wildlife In Need Center. Interns should have experience with various computer programs, working with people and reliable transportation. For a complete description of the qualifications for becoming an intern visit our website. If you want to help inspire people both young and old about the wonderful world around us then we want to hear from you!

To apply send a cover letter describing your interest and previous experience as well as a current resume to

For more information about what it’s like to be a WINC intern read this weeks Lake Country Reporter or visit our website. And thank you for caring about the animals.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who doesn’t like pizza?

Yes, Waldo is enjoying a nice slice of mushroom pizza and no, he does not get this on a regular basis. Waldo wanted to come up with a good way to tell you all about some really fun events coming up to support him and his friends at the Wildlife In Need Center.

Wednesday, August 11th
Tazino’s Pizza and Salad Bistro

N56 W15560 Silver Spring Drive, Menomonee Falls
Come out in support of WINC between 4PM and 9PM! If you bring one of our special fundraising flyers in 10% of your purchase price will go to the Center in support of our animal care. You NEED a fundraiser flyer for us to receive credit for your purchase. Download one [
here] or from our website or pick one up in our office or at the Friends of Nature on Pilgrim Road.

Monday, August 23rd
Mama Mia’s Italian Cuisine
200 East Summit Avenue, Wales
Enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner and support the Wildlife In Need Center at the same time! Through Mamma Mia's Pizza for Profits program, the Center will receive a percentage of the profits on Monday, August 23rd. Stop out for lunch between 11 and 1 or dinner between 4:30 and 9PM! The more people who attend, the more support we'll receive to help our wild neighbors! Bring all your friends; you may also get the chance to meet several of our animal ambassadors at our outdoor booth on-site that evening!

Sales of all types count towards the percentage that the Center could receive so even if you can’t stay for a meal, consider stopping by to pick up a gift certificate for a friend or just for another day!

Find out more about upcoming fundraisers by visiting our website at:

P.S. Waldo only ate a small amount of his pizza today, he understands the importance of good nutrition and promptly reached for some greens to finish off his meal.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Have you ever heard a six foot scream?

Or tried to describe any other sound you heard using words? It’s not always easy but yet we still try. One of the best descriptions we’ve ever received to date came across our answering machine this week. The caller wanted help in identifying a noise he’d been hearing that he suspected to be an owl. Let me share his description:

“For a month now, just when night comes on we’ve been hearing a screeching noise that sounds like a cross between a bottle rocket going off without the explosion and a little girl stuck in a tree.”

He went on to say that he suspected it was a screech owl but was wondering if there was a chance something had been illegally trapped or whether it was likely that screech owls would sit in their nest screaming all through the night.

Talking amongst other staff in the office (and a visit to we agreed that it was likely a screech owl family because we knew the young would be going through the weaning process this time of year. When young raptors go through this process they can become quite raucous in their protests.

Another one of my favorite sound descriptions comes from a gentleman who wants to relive the experience of hearing the noise and subsequently having us help him to identify it each time he calls with another question or animal in need. The noise in question was described as such:

“First the hair on the cat’s back stood straight up. The noise started out like a high-pitched bark but I knew it wasn’t coyotes. The best description I can give it is that it genuinely sounded like a pack of wild apes or rabid monkeys.”

This cat reportedly wasn’t scared of foxes and coyotes, but that noise caused it to have a “look of terror” in its eyes. And the caller goes on to describe how many other people, organizations, friends and game wardens he spoke with before reaching someone at the Wildlife In Need Center who “described to a T” the noise in question when describing a noise that is commonly heard from the likes of a Barred owl.

The more common sound descriptions we get are from individuals who have rodents in their attic or possibly a raccoon or feral cat arguing over food scraps in the night. While writing this fun story about some of the non-emergency calls we get here at WINC, I’ve decided that in a future blog post I will expound on this topic to include some of the other “descriptors” we are often asked to identify. Be forewarned that some of these descriptions are not for the weak-stomached.

To find out more about animal sounds you can visit which postures itself to be the “world’s largest archive of animal sounds and video.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Special “Independence Day” Update

Lonesome Louise is lonesome no more!
I don’t know what a southern squirrel will think of northern winters, but Louise certainly has a beautiful place to live. On Thursday, June 24, she and her two buddies were released at a gorgeous several hundred acre farm near Dousman. The owners have multiple bird and squirrel feeders as well as nest boxes and huge oak trees all around their house. When we opened the door of Louise’s nestbox, she was the first to come bounding out, bouncing in huge leaps across the yard. It was probably the first time she ever had grass beneath her feet. She ran across the yard – there was no cage wall to stop her anymore. Then she dashed into the open door of a small shed. “Oh, that’s where we store the corn and sunflower seed. She knows where to go!” Liane laughed. Louise’s two buddies were a little shyer and we had to remove the roof of the box to get them out. By that time Louise had ventured out of the building and was discovering that the trees had no roof; imagine that!

Thanks to all of our generous home and property owners we can give our orphaned patients a good start to life by releasing them in areas where they will be able to find the resources they need to live long, happy lives. To find out more about becoming a release site, visit our website at: