Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hung Up

The other day we received a phone call from a gentleman who claimed that while hiking the woods behind his home he and his children had seen a hawk dangling from a tree by one leg. He hadn’t been able to get close enough to tell if there was something tangled up on the leg or what it could be which made the assessment of the situation much more difficult.

He described that it was fairly wooded in and the ground was quite moist from the freezing and thawing streak we had been experiencing. And the bird was several feet from the tree trunk and 15 to 20 feet above the ground. I was at a loss. Even in the winter we are often too busy to send a staff member out for a rescue, and rely on volunteers to assist us with these situations. But how was I going to pin-point a volunteer able to attempt this feat?

Right away we contacted our volunteers who specialize in baby owl re-nesting since they have the equipment needed to climb high trees to put owlets back into their nests. When one finally notified us that he would be available I contacted the caller back to get an update on the situation.

The story gets interesting at this point because the children in the family reported that the hawk had by this point been able to right itself onto the branch but still no one had been able to get a good enough view to discern what, if anything, had caused the bird to be tangled up and hanging from the tree. They suggested that it had been hanging of it’s own accord by its talons, but this is not a normal behavior for hawks so I was still very concerned that the bird was wedded to the tree somehow.

We had a volunteer who wasn’t experienced in owl re-nesting, but who happened to live close by, go out to the site to visit with the callers and see if he could get any more information on the birds (another bird, presumably a mate, had shown up on the scene at this point). When he called back and informed us that not only had both birds “flown the coop” but that he had been shown the pictures taken when the bird was first sighted and it appeared that it had been hanging by its talon; everyone was shocked.

It didn’t take long before someone postulated that there was really no reason to be confused by the situation because there was a simple answer that no one had yet thought of…

It may seem cold and frigid to most of us, but for our wild neighbors love is in the air. Squirrels are performing acrobatics in the trees, the groundhogs are starting to stir in their burrows, and the owls and hawks are starting to seek out their mates and claim their nesting territories. I’ve never seen, but have heard, that when hawks are courting they can be witnessed doing some pretty amazing stunts like grasping talons and falling out of the sky. I’ve heard it described as appearing as though they are “fighting.”

A face only a mother Red-tail could love???

What likely happened, and this really is the best way this story could’ve ended, is that during one of this pairs’ “stunts” one of the hawks lost control and fell into the tree, perhaps grasping the limb to keep from continuing to the ground. We don’t know how long the hawk was there before the family discovered it, perhaps it was a coincidence that they happened along just after it occurred. Once the bird, with its amazing agility, was able to right itself it probably just needed a few moments for the shock to wear off, with its mate there ready to lead it off again. We are VERY glad that there wasn’t anything hanging the bird up and wish these two a happy and successful year. For those poor birds who DO get caught up on wire, string and other debris left behind by humans please keep the following in mind:
  • Nets for outdoor games should always be taken in or down when not in use
  • Fishing line, especially with lures or bait still attached, should never be left behind
  • Kite strings and other types of strings should always be wound up and tied off before discarding

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Couldn't Do What We Do...

...without our volunteers. They give of their time and often their money and other resources as well because they care. We care too and one of the ways we show this is through an annual party thrown exclusively for those who help us day in and day out. Each year we give out awards to volunteers who have given us the desire to recognize their outstanding dedication. Here are the descriptions of this years honorees:

Our "Volunteers of the Year"

This person’s 2010 hours totaled 298.5 hours (average volunteer will clock in about 200 hours per year.)
Words to describe this person: Dedicated, Caring, Hard-worker.
Besides coming every Sunday afternoon she stays to also volunteer the Sunday evening shift…this includes every week in the summer! She is reliable and has only missed one week all year! That’s dedication.
If she does not come baring gifts from HAWS in the summer that she has so kindly stopped to pick up, she comes baring wonderfully homemade treats to share with everyone! She also is the creative mind behind many of Daphne’s handmade costumes.
Every Sunday she starts her shift by asking what is going on and what can she do to help before she has to begin charts. It never fails, and I love that about her. She is willing to do anything; even if it is a job that belongs on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe! She has spent Sunday afternoons adding wind-block branches to the aviaries in the dead of winter, been elbow deep in duck poop, help re-set animal cages for new patients and has done it all with a smile on her face!
She shows patience with every animal’s chart she does and always makes sure the animals are as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
She goes the extra mile; as I mentioned before she often stops at HAWS or Elmbrook Humane Society on her way to the center in the summer. She has gone to the extra classes offered by animal care staff to help better herself and her wildlife skills. She helps out greatly for the World’s Greatest Cookie Sale; baking dog cookies and baking dozens and dozens of her own delicious recipes for the sale. She has also been known to bring tasty treats to the Pancake Breakfast and has been behind the scenes volunteering at our annual banquet.
She is also one of our Home Care Volunteers who has cared for many self-feeding Cottontails through the years. I know if they could, the patients and residents she has cared for since starting at the center in 2006 would say, Thank you.

She is dedicated, caring, and a very hard worker. The center would not be the same without her and we are so grateful to have her as part of the Wildlife In Need Center’s team. Thank you for all that you do!
She has been an animal care volunteer at WINC since 2006. Her regular animal care shift is every Saturday morning, and in 2010 she volunteered 211 hours.
Besides her weekly animal care shift, she is our “Go To” person whenever we are in need of extra volunteer help. Because she lives near WINC, she can be here in minutes when we call to ask for her help. She rarely misses her regular shift or says no to our pleas for extra help.
She will never hesitate to ask us how she can help. If we have extra jobs that need to be done after animal care is complete, she is there to jump right in to do whatever needs doing. No job is too tedious, difficult, dirty, smelly or uncomfortable. She will work at a job outside in frigid winter weather or in our hot, humid, buggy summers. She even came in several days when we needed extra eyes to help find our Red-tailed Hawk, Raenah.
Especially handy is the fact that due to her experience and animal-handling skills, she is able to handle a raptor while I do a treatment on it, or she’ll clean its cage while I hold the bird. But she will also feed baby birds, feed and clean up after messy little ducklings, care for Daphne, and any other animals that need care.
She has never hesitated to pitch-in or complained about the amount of cleaning necessary on every shift. She washes dishes and does laundry and still has a smile on her face. The Staff and the other volunteers enjoy working with her because of her hard work and good sense of humor.
Thank you so much, we love you!

Our "Rising Star" volunteer of the year

This person has worked on just about every shift possible except for maybe on Saturdays.
This person started as a volunteer in September and had racked up 135 hours in 12 weeks for the year of 2010 (an average volunteer would only work about 50 hours in that time.)
Although she is new to the Wildlife In Need Center she is already a strong rising star! When we lost our two Monday afternoon volunteers in the same week due to a back injury and a foot injury, she stepped in and took on the Monday afternoon shift along with her Tuesday afternoon shift! She took over for them at the end of November last year and has continued to cover until they were ready to come back this coming week. I do not want to leave out that she is driving from Whitewater to get here every week!
Since she started she has shown great enthusiasm for the center. Willing to do whatever we may ask of her. She has always been one who has asked questions when she was unsure of anything and as staff we love when someone is not afraid to ask questions. She goes the extra mile on her shift to make sure staff is doing ok and making sure we do not need any extra help. I never have to ask her to take out the garbage or sweep and mop. She usually already has those things done before I even think to ask!
On top of taking on extra volunteer hours she even volunteered her beautiful property to some of our orphaned Gray Squirrels this fall.
It has been our pleasure as animal care staff getting to know her and the kind soul that she is. She just brightens our afternoons with her smile! We look forward to continuing to work with her as she begins to learn more advanced animal care at the center.
We appreciate that she has the personality that shows that she wants to be at the center. As animal care staff wildlife rehabilitation is a big part of our lives and we love sharing that with other enthusiastic volunteers. That is why she is 2010’s Rising Star!
We are so grateful to have her as part of the Wildlife In Need Center’s team. Thank you for all that you do!

We are very grateful for the volunteers all year long and can't wait to share the excitement of our new facility with them all. If you are interested in becoming a volutneer visit our website at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tangled Update:

On February 8, 2011 our Great Horned Owl from our January blog titled “Tangled” went to Eye Care for Animals to get an eye exam from Dr. Collins, an animal eye expert. He found a small corneal lesion on her right eye (her good eye), but believed that it does not cause her any vision problems. Her left eye (the eye that was damaged when she came in) showed some retinal scarring and signs of a cataract that was miraculously almost completely dissolved. She has a positive response to light in her left eye, which is a very good sign!
Dr. Collins finished up with a fluorescein stain to check for small scratches to the cornea and an inner eye pressure test on both eyes. After both tests were finished Dr. Collins give his approval that the eye is not causing her any pain and that he didn’t see why she could not be released considering the conditions of the eye currently.

That is music to all our ears! All she needs to do is to continue to grow in new feathers down her leg before she can be released into the bitter Wisconsin weather!

Guest Blogger M.F.

Don't worry about our brave owl friend who's been through so much being released back into the cold. Great Horned Owls stick around all year long and are designed to handle the cold. Plus - February is a month for romance when it comes to these Owls, perhaps someone out there will be overjoyed upon her return...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Notice: Today’s Groundhog Day event has been cancelled

Groundhog Day is today and everyone is wondering, where’s Waldo?

He’ll be snoozing in his favorite log; he’s heard about the blizzard outside and has chosen to sleep in today. I think it’s safe to say that he will not see his shadow even if he does emerge for breakfast; or lunch. No shadow means an early spring!

We have regrettably cancelled the planned education programming and celebrations at the Elks Lodge due to today's winter storm.

The celebration of Groundhog Day arose from a variety of traditions, including some religious, some seasonal and most importantly, observational. It gradually became a time when both people as well as animals emerged from their winter slumber to welcome the strengthening sunshine, only to return in wait for the actual coming of spring. Groundhog Day is now held annually on February 2nd which also happens to be the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The most important thing is that the observance of this day gives those of us in colder climates an excuse to celebrate, breaking up the monotony that leads to spring fever.

We Wisconsinites will have to settle for the next Packers match-up to lift our spirits instead. Waldo and his fellow animal ambassadors have been hosting pep-rallies for our selfless volunteers who come in on game days. In addition to predicting an early spring Waldo also predicts that his favorite team, the Packers, will win Sunday’s game 35-21. He’ll be sound asleep in his favorite log for most of it, but we’ll tell him who won when he wakes up.

Daphne, as quarterback, is a force to be reckoned with

Slither is all over the ball!

Jewel always picks the role of half-back

Waldo waits for the hike...

and tackles the ball to the ground!

While Pecan is busy preparing for the celebration party!