Friday, January 28, 2011

What Woodchucks do on Wednesday

What to do on a Wednesday...Wednesday, February 2nd...well go see Waldo come out of his burrow of course. Waldo, Wildlife In Need's famous woodchuck who predicts the weather, will be coming out of his burrow at 11:00am on February 2nd at the Elk's Lodge. WINC has teamed up with the Ground Hog Club to celebrate this whimsical holiday by having Waldo pop out of his burrow in front of school children, the Ground Hog Club and anyone else who would like to attend to see Waldo tell us whether we will have six more weeks of Winter or an early Spring.

Waldo is a three year old woodchuck who came to the Center as an imprint. He was found in a campground and taken in by some RV campers for the summer. When they learned they could not keep Waldo, he was brought to the Center so that we could "wild him up" but our efforts were unsuccessful. Waldo then joined the educational staff and ventures out to many venues to teach the importance of leaving the wildlife in the wild.

Preceding Waldo's prediction will be an educational program featuring all the other educational animal ambassadors from the Center at 10:00am. Come and join all of Waldo's friends as we all try to awaken from our winter burrows and celebrate Ground Hog's Day at the Elk's Lodge on Spring Dale Road in Waukesha.

Guest Blogger L.K.
Waldo predicting the weather, Groundhog Day 2010

Thursday, January 20, 2011


On October 19th the Wildlife in Need Center admitted a Great Horned Owl. She had been caught in a net covering a pen to a duck and chicken coop at a farm in Watertown. It was quite obvious that she had been caught for most of the night since she came to us dehydrated and her right leg was completely degloved from struggling to get free. Her leg and foot were swollen to twice the normal size and both the tendon and muscle were exposed. After arriving, staff flushed and scrubbed her leg clean. She was then given antibiotics and pain medication to get her through the night. The prognosis for her leg to recover was not good. To top it all off she had an old injury in her left eye that seemed to be effecting her ability to see as well as an owl should. However, she was in excellent weight condition which means she was still eating quite well considering her pre-existing eye injury and it would also be a big help to her body during recovery.

Staff worked at cleaning and scrubbing her foot once a day, everyday for several months. Although it did not look promising for the first month, we continued trying out new tactics to keep her wounds clean and covered to prevent infection. Eventually, with the help of one of our volunteer vets, Dr. Nicki, we started to see some slow improvement.

Warning: the following pictures graphically depict the healing process of this patient.

This series of pictures shows her leg injury from when she arrived to its final healing this week.

11-8-10: Three weeks after arriving.

11-17-10: One month after arriving.

11-28-10: After beginning new topical antibiotic.

12-20-10: Only scabs left!

1-20-11: Wound completely healed!

Finally her leg has completely healed. Now all she needs is to grow in some new feathers on that leg to help her keep warm in this cold Wisconsin weather.

For a while longer now she will work on covering her leg with new feathers. Meanwhile, we will be making an appointment for her with one of Wisconsin’s animal eye experts. Now that her leg injury has a good prognosis, we can focus our attention on making sure her eye injury is not causing her pain and that in fact she can see well enough to be released.

Cross your fingers for her and hopefully you will be hearing about her release soon!

Guest Blogger M.F.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well, it’s winter again in Wisconsin. And for most of us, frozen ponds and lakes means ice skating and fishing. But for our feathered friends who brave the Wisconsin winter alongside of us, it means there is no water available for bathing and drinking. That is where we, as friends of wildlife, come in. During the winter months it is imperative that we keep clean, heated birdbaths in our yards so our feathered friends have access to fresh water. Our avian neighbors would greatly appreciate it if the bath was rinsed and refilled with fresh water daily. Also, by cleaning it with a mixture of bleach and water once a week, it will keep harmful bacteria from accumulating.

Of course the birds also need a reliable supply of fresh food throughout the winter months too. Not only is food more scarce during this time, a layer of snow or ice makes finding that meal even more difficult. As with birdbaths, keeping feeders clean and free of bacteria is necessary to prevent the spread of disease. Generally, soaking your feeders in a bleach solution and then rinsing them off every 3 months or so will do the trick.

As you know, every living thing needs 3 things to survive; water, food, and shelter. We’ve got the first 2 covered, so what about the 3rd? Well, both natural shelters like tree cavities, as well as man-made ones like vacant bird houses work well for many species. Some of us however, who choose to have real Christmas trees in our homes for the holidays, have another great option. Placing these trees in your yard can provide excellent shelter and warmth for birds and other small animals. Just be sure to remove all decorations first, especially those shimmery “icicles” and as much tinsel as possible.

At the Wildlife In Need Center, our native resident animals are an important part of our operations as well. One of the most visited feeders we have sits in front of our office window. Below is a list of just a few of the amazing winter-surviving bird species that have graced us with their presence this winter. Have you seen all of these birds or more?

Northern Cardinal
Dark-eyed Juncos
Mourning Dove
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Blue Jay
House Sparrows
Red-bellied Woodpeckers
Tufted Titmouse
Black-capped Chickadees
Downy Woodpeckers
Hairy Woodpeckers
and more!

A Black-capped Chickadee sits in a hor-frost covered tree outside WINC's office to have his picture taken (or maybe he was just waiting to get back to the feeder...)

Got a great shot of your favorite backyard neighbors? If you send them to us to use in some of our new promotional materials and we end up using it, we send you a gift and our gratitude too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holiday Mail

It's the end of the year and the support of our current former and future volunteers and members means even more this time of year. Things are always busy even though far fewer patients are coming in each day as we have reports, tax forms and myriad other office duties to finalize. Not to mention all the planning for the next season! I know that everyone of our readers was here yesterday looking for our most recent post and didn't find it. Lisa wrote a wonderful post to share with you all though and I know once you read it you'll realize it was worth the wait. 

Mail at the Center around the holidays is fun. We get more mail than usual, especially this year because in addition to our annual year-end appeal we have launched our capital campaign as well. But it’s the holiday mail that is so exciting to open. Beautiful Christmas cards with wildlife pictures spill from envelopes. Former and current volunteers send letters updating us on their families’ activities in the past year. Many of our former volunteers have retired to warmer climates (if only I could follow!) and volunteer with other wildlife rehabilitation facilities so it’s interesting to hear their stories. We even get picture cards of families - and their pets! I’ve been here awhile so I remember many of these people and it’s always great to find out what they are up to now. It brings back memories from the past – remember that rescue when…, that bird that got loose on you in the clinic and then…, the phone call when the people said they had a kangaroo in the yard (it wasn’t a kangaroo, it was a wallaby). The stories when you mix people and animals are always interesting and often take some odd turns. The memories are wonderful to recall.

Some cards come with donations that are holiday gifts to family and friends. Some are memorials. Since 2003 we have gotten a memorial in December for Courtney, daughter and sister. I don’t know Courtney’s story, but each year I think of her and her family. One of our volunteers started her volunteer work here as a memorial to her daughter who had been an intern with WINC and passed away around the holidays several years ago. She says volunteering here makes her feel closer to her daughter. For several years in December we’ve received a donation from a kind woman who asks that we send our newsletter to her nephew who is incarcerated. I remember her initial letter. She didn’t make excuses for him but lamented his poor choices that led to his situation. She said he was someone who always has loved animals and now he can’t be around them and so she thought our newsletter would be of interest to him. As someone who has always had pets and works with wild animals to help them be free and wild again, I can’t imagine not being around animals and not being free myself. I wish her nephew rehabilitation and freedom in the future. These sad notes make me grateful for my life and the people in it. This is a good time of year to contemplate the many gifts we all have in our lives.

We get Christmas cards and notes from our members and from people who have brought us wildlife thanking us for caring for the animals. It’s what we do every day and so most of the time I don’t think of wildlife rehabilitation as something out of the ordinary. Doesn’t everyone drop bill paying to go rescue a Great Horned owl lying in the road? Don’t all of you discuss juvenile raccoon fecal results while eating lunch? Answering phones while wearing Slither the Educational Fox Snake isn’t out of the ordinary to me. Driving to the vet’s office with a screech owl, a painted turtle, a mallard and a red-tailed hawk isn’t the beginning of a joke but just ordinary car-pooling, isn’t it? Listening to the rustle within boxes as our UPS guy brings this weeks delivery of 80,000 live mini mealworms, 40,000 live medium mealworms and 2,000 live wax worms just reminds me that I need to order more frozen mice and chicks too. Visiting the restroom and sharing space with the Canada goose in the tub happens at your house too, right? But I really appreciate the kind words and thanks of people for the work we do. Staff and volunteers make a difference to animals every day here and it is a special privilege to do so. Sometimes I just have to stop and enjoy the sight of our wild patients or Dakota the educational great horn owl hooting hello as I go from the office to the clinic and be thankful. WINC is a special place filled with wonderful caring people and amazing animals. It is a gift to be here every day of the year.

Guest Blogger L.R.

P.S. We still have fabulous 2011 WINC Calendars featuring our educational animal ambassador team! They are only $15 and all the funds raised go towards our care for wild neighbors.
For more information on how to get one visit or contact our office