Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Real-Life Version of "It's a Wonderful Life"

On November 20th, WINC received an injured Peregrine Falcon that was found on the ground in Watertown. The bird had injuries caused by a probable gunshot wound. We had the bird x-rayed to check for fractured bones and gunshot pellets. Luckily, the gunshot did not break any bones, and there were no bullets or shotgun pellets remaining in her body. However, it did go completely through the wing and broke several critically-important primary flight feathers.

Peregrine Falcons are endangered in Wisconsin. Researchers band nearly all urban-nesting Peregrine Falcons. Since this bird was aleady banded, we were able to determine her identity. "Jesse," was hatched in 2008 in a nest box in Genoa, Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River. In 2010 she nested on the North Tower of Mayfair Mall and produced four chicks. The nest box is still on the roof top in hopes that the peregrines will return there to nest year after year.

We sutured Jesse's puncture and treated her with antibiotics and pain releivers. After the wounds healed, she needed one more procedure: she needed her broken feathers "imped." Imping is a falconry term that means splicing replacement feathers from a "donor" bird of the same species, into the broken feather shafts of the recipient. Without this procedure it would take Jesse an entire year to molt in replacements for her broken primary feathers, and without these feathers, she could barely fly and thus could not be released. Since we did not have any Peregrine Falcon feathers to use, we sent the bird to The Raptor Center in Minneapolis for the feather imping procedure. They implanted new feathers and returned the bird to us in a week.

On Thursday morning, December 22nd, I met WINC Wildlife Rehbilitator Chelsea Matson with "Jesse," Greg Septon, the Director of the Wisconsin Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project, and videographers from TV channels 6 and 12 at the North Tower of Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa.

When we arrived, we noticed Jesse's mate, "Polyo," on a ledge near the top of the building! Greg told us that Polyo continues to roost on the building and hunt nearby. When not nesting, female Peregrine Falcons tend to wander more than the males. With the assistance of Greg Septon, and permission from Mayfair Mall, we were able to take Jesse to the roof nest box for the release.

She flew beautifully and much to our delight, Polyo vocalized and joined Jesse in circling the building. They both landed on a ledge just below the roof. We'll keep our fingers crossed, and hope Jesse and Polyo return to nest on the roof of Mayfair's North Tower in the summer of 2011.

Guest Blogger C.D.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sometimes saying good-bye isn't easy

On December 16, 2010 our beloved American Kestrel and Educational Ambassador, Indigo, passed away.

Indigo originally arrived at WINC in October of 2005 from another rehabilitator. He came to us with a permanent shoulder injury that prevented him from ever being able to fly normally. We knew, because of his injury, that he was unreleasable and therefore was going to be fulfilling a very important role as one of our educational ambassadors. Indigo has touched the lives of staff, volunteers and those who were fortunate enough to meet him during educational programs. Our educational animal team would not have been the same without him and he is irreplaceable.

Thank you to all of those who have cared for Indigo during his time with us. He will forever be in our hearts and will be dearly missed by all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Update on Jesse and her Detour to Freedom

Today I found a post on a list called Falcon Cam mentioning "Jesse" the Peregrine Falcon and her progress since being rescued (from a probable gunshot wound) from a roadside in Watertown, Wisconsin. She has since, as they noted, and as you read in my previous post, been transferred to the Raptor Center of Minnesota. We recieved news this week that the imping was successful and that Jesse is again fully flighted! She will remain in the care of the Raptor Center for a few more days until they are certain the procedure is successful and could be coming home to be released very soon.

After her release we will definitely share news of the wonderful event -and hopefully we'll be watching Jesse for many years to come!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another leg has been added to the journey home for “Jesse” the Peregrine Falcon

The Wildlife In Need Center will transfer the Falcon to world-renowned Raptor Center of Minnesota for further expert care

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - December 15, 2010 - On Saturday the 20th of November a large trash receptacle arrived at the Wildlife In Need Center from Watertown, Wisconsin. Inside the receptacle was a Peregrine Falcon that had been rescued from the side of the road. The injury is suspected to have been a result of a gunshot but has healed well through supportive care. Her initial release had to be postponed due to some damaged feathers and she is now on her way to the Raptor Center of Minnesota, a world-renowned care facility specializing in birds of prey, for follow-up care.

Peregrine populations plummeted in the mid-20th century especially from the East Coast into the Midwest. Although their numbers have risen in recent years, so much so that they were recently removed from the Federal Endangered Species List, they are still considered Endangered and of Critical Concern in the state of Wisconsin. Although reports come in annually, Peregrines are still not a common sight in most counties across the state.

This particular bird was also banded giving us a unique look into where she’d come from before needing the Wildlife In Need Center. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service this bird was hatched in Genoa, Wisconsin in 2008. There, she was banded and nicknamed “Jesse.” This year she hatched and raised 4 young birds in the WE energies nest box at the Mayfair Mall site in Milwaukee.

Although she’s already traveled some great distances in her life, the rehabilitation process will be her most triumphant. The very first leg of her journey to recovery was an X-ray followed by two weeks of supportive care. Due to the injury, some of Jesse’s feathers were broken and during her stay several more were damaged making her immediate release no longer possible. The Raptor Center has not only agreed to take Jesse into their care to perform a procedure called “imping” which will replace the missing feathers, but they have also offered to pay the costs involved with the transfer of the bird. If the surgery goes well we will work with the Raptor Center to determine the best timeline for transferring Jesse back to Wisconsin and ultimately her release back to the wild.

Fun Facts:

An adult Peregrine can travel at speeds exceeding 25mph and over 300mph when dropping out of the sky after its prey.

This hunting tactic is why they prefer to nest on rocky ledges of steep bluffs or especially in urban areas, ledges on high-rise buildings.

Peregrine means “wanderer” and certain birds that nest in parts of Canada have the longest migration routes of any other bird in North America.

For more information you can also visit the following resources:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology at:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rescues Gone Awry Part III

Did you enjoy the antics and harrowing efforts relayed by Lisa in previous posts? If so, you're in for another treat!

Summer Sun

Anyone who knows me knows that woodchucks have a special place in my heart. I am always stopping to check animals by the road to see if it’s still alive, and if dead, is it a nursing mother in season. If so, I have spent days walking the area and looking for the burrow to try to capture the nursing babies who would otherwise starve. One summer morning stopped at a stop sign on my way to work, I looked across the intersection to see a woodchuck lying flattened in the road. I drove across to see if the woodchuck was still alive and to check to see if it was a nursing female whose babies I should try to find. I parked on the shoulder and walked to the woodchuck who was about two inches thick on the road. As I got within about five feet of it, it looked up at me, glared, and scampered off to the tall grass on the side of the road. It was a cool morning and the woodchuck was lying on the black pavement sunbathing! Woodchucks can get amazingly flat and they do like to sunbath on cool days, soaking up summer heat. This one was absorbing heat from the pavement as well as from the sunlight. But it certainly wasn’t doing so in a safe location so I don’t regret interrupting its morning ablutions.

Frosty feathers

The caller said that a goose was frozen into the new ice on a local lake. We often get calls like this with our first freezes of the year. I have not yet had an actual case of waterfowl being frozen into the lake. The waterfowl will float on the water with their feet tucked up in their warm downy feathers. When the water freezes a few feathers may be caught in the ice, but the ice freezes slowly and the bird is warm so they don’t get actually frozen into the ice to the point where the animal is trapped. The first freezes are so tin that the bird can easily pull loose. Later the ice is thick enough that the birds lay on top of the ice. I cautioned the caller against going onto the ice as it would not be safe for a persons weight, but suggested they try skipping some small stones or sticks towards to bird to see if they could get the bird to move to prove to them it wasn’t stuck. I once used a remote controlled toy truck to drive onto ice to scare some domestic geese into moving on ice to chase them to shore. The person called back later to sheepishly admit that on closer inspection the goose was a decoy. I thanked them anyway for their concern for an animal they felt was in need of help.

A number of waterfowl will choose to brave our Wisconsin winters if they have access to regularly open water and a food source
Is that a Bird?

Sometimes people need help that is more than we can provide. A few years ago someone called to report large black birds that were carrying people away in Waukesha. Our office person asked questions to make sure this was not a prank. She then tried to reassure the caller that in Wisconsin we do not have birds large enough to carry full grown adults away. But the caller insisted that these giant birds were actually picking up adult people and flying away with them. They had seen this happen with their own eyes. No amount of discussion would dissuade the person. In that case we suggested to the caller that this was a situation we were not equipped to handle and asked for their name and contact information. We asked them to call the police to report this situation and gave them the non-emergency number. We also called the non-emergency police number to describe the phone call and ask that the police do a welfare check on this person as there appeared to be a problem with reality. The police didn’t call back to let us know what happened of course. But I did watch the news the next few days and did not hear of the rediscovery of extinct pterodactyls in Waukesha so feel we assessed the situation correctly.

Guest Blogger LR

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Wintery Conclusion to One Outrageous Day

Winter at the Wildlife In Need Center
As we watch some of the first significant snowflakes fall to the ground I’m remembering the busy days behind us and thought I would finish telling you the tale I began a few weeks ago of just one day this past summer at the Wildlife In Need Center.

When I left you last the office was humid and a balmy 85 degrees and a number of meetings had been interrupted for a variety of reasons and I had just walked outside, heading towards the other building which houses our animal care clinic with two squirrels and a bird I had just admitted… While I was gone Rose came into the office to ask Lisa a question. In the midst of answering her question she had to take a phone call. This phone call was from a woman who had an Owl in her pear tree.

Since Lisa had just spent about 10 minutes on the phone I answered it the next time it rang. This time the caller had problems with woodchucks in her yard that she wanted advice about. She believed that they were a breeding pair and that if she didn’t do something about them soon she would end up with an entire colony of them. This, of course wasn’t the case and she was relieved to hear so, but she did likely have a mother and a daughter attempting to burrow near her foundation. We went through the humane options she had available to her and left her with a plan for the next week to mitigate the situation.

Trying to accomplish what needs to get done is difficult enough when the phones and admissions come at such a steady pace, but the computers also lend to the problem. Playing “computer musical chairs” is a game played often around here. While waiting for my computer to respond I answered another phone call, this one from a local media outlet. They had heard about one of the patients we had recently admitted from a volunteer and wanted to do a story on them and their progress. I had to take a message so that I could find out the information they needed. When I wanted to call the reporter back however, I had to wait as we only have one phone line set-up to make outgoing long-distance phone calls (because of the rural area WINC is located in most of our phone calls are long-distance) and someone else was using it to return another phone call.

While I was waiting I decided to make some copies of a document I was going to need the following day. Using the copy machine on a hot, humid day proved to be a mistake as I was only able to do about half the job before it stopped working. Because we have a service agreement on the machine for situations just like this we contacted the company and placed a request.

It was just as well that I was done with that project for the time because it was just then that 2 new volunteers came over with their training checklists asking if I could go through the office portion for them. Mid-way through the training the phone rang and it was another caller dealing with some mischievous young woodchucks so I provided them with the information they needed to make an educated plan to humanely discourage them from continuing their antics and returned to my training.

Just when the new volunteers left and I thought I might be able to get back to what I had started earlier in the day the phone rang again and this time it was regarding a goose. The goose’s mate had apparently been hit by a vehicle a day or two prior and it had so far refused to leave its side. There was much concern regarding the dangerous area the goose was in, but as there was nothing physically wrong with it the bigger concern would be that attempting to capture it would surely drive it into traffic and certain injury or death itself. Geese are surprisingly social animals, but more on that another time. After a call tugging on your emotions like that one I often wish I could take a 15 minute break to clear my head, but when it’s summer that’s just not always a possibility.

As I hung up the phone someone was walking in with a box-full of orphaned cottontails that needed our experienced care if they were to survive. I admitted them, brought them to the clinic for some pedialyte and a soft-warm bed to rest in and returned to the office.

Speaking of a warm, cozy place, as you curl up at home tonight just remember to think of how amazing our wild neighbors are, surviving Wisconsin winters without the luxuries we have. And when the day comes that one of them needs the Wildlife In Need Center, we hope you’ll join us to make sure we’re here.

Thanks for Caring!

Save the Date! We'll be celebrating Groundhog's Day at the Waukesha Elks Lodge on Wednesday, February 2nd!