Thursday, March 24, 2011

There may have been frost, and in some cases snow, on the ground this morning in southeastern Wisconsin, but spring is chugging along its way! Today we admitted our first American Robin of 2011! And now that the sun has shone on the lawn all day, the snow has already gone away...

While some amount of the Robin population stays in southern Wisconsin all year, the American Robin, official State Bird of Wisconsin, is a most common sight here throughout the summer months. They're often seen digging up earthworms, but they also eat a lot of fruit too! At WINC we feed the orphans a special protien mixture when they are young and transition them to solid foods including protiens fruits and berries.

Robins are often one of our most commonly admitted patient in the bird category. In 2010 we admitted 142, in 2009 141, and 118 in 2008. A large number of these are orphaned (or kidnapped), or injured, but we get many adults as well who get hit by vehicles, fly into windows, or get tangled up in strings and nets. In 2008 we got the most unsual one ever - it was an albino fledgling!

I hope you're keeping a journal of your spring animals as they return just like we are! Feel free to share them with us too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NWRA: Albany, NY

I was the lucky, chosen one of us rehabbers to go to this year’s National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium in Albany, New York this year. It was also my first NWRA conference so I was very excited. My excitement grew when I received information on the lectures that were being given each day. Turtle Tidbits, Caring for the “Elder” Squirrel, Parvovirus in Raccoons, and Take Two Worms and Call me in the Morning were at the top of my list to attend. But there were so many to choose from and when they are offered at the same times, “how do I pick?” I thought to myself. And, it being my first conference I was eager to see and hear everything I could squeeze into those 4 days. Luckily, I found out I had a travel buddy, a fellow rehabber from the Wisconsin Humane Society Rehabilitation Center. With two of us, we decided we could “divide and conquer” and share notes on all of our new, juicy wildlife secrets! So we did just that, and everyday we went from 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM! Then we would grab a quick bite to eat and go to our room and discuss all the great, new things we learned that day while organizing our notes. Crystal (my travel buddy) described us as “power nerds.”

Day 4 came way too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to go back home and share all of our new ideas with our centers. Now that I’m back, I’m finally finishing up organizing my notes and starting to share some of the things I learned with other WINC staff and volunteers. The conference was tons of fun, a great learning experience and reminder of how many people there are who truly care about wildlife and improving the way we care for them.

Guest Blogger C. M.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for this year's Pancake Breakfast and Baby Shower on Sunday, March 27th from 8 AM to 1 PM!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh, opossum, oh, opossums

With the weather warming up here and there as winter continues to crawl by animals are on the move, looking for one more meal to get through until tomorrow. In particular we can’t believe the number of calls regarding Virginia Opossums that we have received in the past several weeks.

Opossum's, our only North American Marsupial, are nomadic by nature and do not nest, even in the summer when they have young. They do however, take advantage of opportunities like open garage doors, open decking or even unused dog kennels, when morning comes and they need someplace safe to spend the day. This of course doesn’t take into account that in the winter, opossums which are scavengers, are not nearly as adept at finding food as the raccoons, skunks and feral cats that they are competing with. This means that it is very common to see these creatures out during the day, especially in the winter months when they simply can't find enough food during the nighttime hours alone.

An opossum who shows up in your yard will likely move on once he senses the danger (you, your children and your dog or cat who probably startled him to begin with) is gone. He or she is only there because there is a food source nearby. If the opossum’s presence is unwelcome and continues take the following steps.
  • Take up any and all food sources - opossums are scavengers and they actually provide a valuable (if grotesque) service. Any bird feeders, fruit trees, garbage, un-cleaned grills, outdoor pet food or pretty much anything else that is edible should be cleaned up, brought inside or placed into an airtight container to prevent from attracting them.
  • Try putting a radio near the area/s you are seeing him or her most often. It needn’t be loud and it should be on a talk radio station to ensure that they are tricked into thinking people are nearby.
  • Be sure to take note of any areas of damage that may be allowing him to get under your deck or shed, into your garage or other hiding areas. If these locations can be sealed off or repaired before baby season starts in the spring you will prevent a lot of headaches for yourself.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Here Comes Spring!

Spring is on its way! It’s been 5 days since the first Red-winged Blackbirds were seen visiting the front feeder. This morning they were joined by a multitude of others, singing up a storm in the treetops all across the property! Several staff and volunteers in this area and as far south as Mukwonago have heard Cranes calling as they return to Wisconsin and their breeding grounds!

With the signs of spring increasing daily that means it is the time of year for our Annual Pancake Breakfast and Baby Shower. This event features visits from several of our animal ambassadors, cool WINC merchandise you can purchase to help fund our care of orphaned wildlife this spring. And, most importantly, pancakes, sausage, eggs, corned beef hash, juice, coffee, and homemade baked goods!

Join us Sunday, March 27th between 8AM and 1PM!
The Dousman/Ottawa Lions Club is located at 235 Main Street Dousman, Wisconsin
Tickets are $6; $3 for children 2-12
and children under 2 eat free!

Because this event is to bring awareness to the baby season soon to come we will have educational materials as well as staff and volunteers to answer your wildlife questions. The funds we raise at this event will help us care for literally hundreds of baby raccoons, ducklings, squirrels, songbirds, cottontails, owlets and more! If you want to help even more, consider bringing in an item or two from our baby shower wish list:

Paper towels
Simple Green (regular or concentrated)
Bungee Cords
Cloth Diapers
Fleece and Pillowcases
Fresh and frozen berries
Innova Evo Dry Cat and Kitten Food
High Efficiency Laundry Detergent (HE)
Earthworms, Waxworms, and Mealworms

Baby Song Birds will constitute nearly 200 or more of the patients we will care for this season!