Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The unexpected consequences of being unemployed

The other day we received a call from a gentleman regarding a nest of baby birds. It’s not an uncommon call this time of year. This nest was different however, because it was inside of the engine compartment of his truck! Squirrels and other small animals will build nests from time to time in a vehicle that gets left out while the owner is on vacation for example, and they can build a nest and move their babies into it from another nest in a matter of hours or days. A bird however, needs time to build it’s nest, lay its eggs, and then incubate those eggs before there’s even a prospect of finding baby birds in a place like this.

So, how long has this truck been sitting that it can’t sit for another week and a half until these baby birds fledge the nest? His response was that being out of work for the past 18 months hasn’t given him very many reasons to drive it! The couple of times he had driven it, he hadn’t realized they were even there! Thankfully, they were tucked safely right above the wheel well and hadn’t made a peep until they were hatched and big enough to realize that they were away from their parents!

Because he now had a reason to drive the truck and didn’t want to be taking the babies away from their parents I advised him to attach the nest onto a mid-sized ladder, place it in a flower basket hanging from a shepherds hook, or another object that would keep it up off the ground. This way the nest would be safe from kids and pets in the neighborhood and if he placed this object directly near the side of the truck that it was originally, the parents shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them to continue their care. Because these birds had their nest in a covered area to begin with he could’ve also placed the nest within a box for protection, either on its side or with a hole cut in it for a doorway.

We raise hundreds of orphaned songbirds each year with the help of our adult and junior volunteers. If you are 12 or 13 with an interested parent or guardian or 14 and up and interested in helping us help them contact us today!
We’re getting lots of calls about baby birds now, especially ones that are on the ground. If you find baby birds that have blown out of the nest the best thing to do is to try to return them to their nest. If that’s not possible then you can easily provide them with a replacement nest. To do this take a small plastic container – if it doesn’t already have holes in it, like a strawberry basket for example, then poke some in the bottom to prevent it from filling up with water. Fill the container with dried grasses, small twigs or other dried natural materials that won’t hold in moisture like green materials would. Then you can tie it, hang it, or attach it to the tree, bush or structure they fell from at a level which you can reach. Six to 8 feet is best, but even 3 or 4 feet will be safer than being on the ground. For more information contact your local rehabilitator or the Wildlife In Need Center at 262-968-5075

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Un-sticking Situations

Last week, we admitted two birds who were covered in an oil and a sticky glue-like substance. As the weather gets warmer, this seems to be a more common scenario among the birds we admit to WINC. While we do as much as humanly possible to help restore these birds and their feathers to their normal condition, it can sometimes be a death sentence. When a bird has been through something very traumatic such as being stuck to something or unable to fly, they come to us in an extremely stressed/shocked state. The best thing is to do for a stressed animal is to leave it in a dark, quiet space for some time to allow it to calm down. However, when a bird’s feathers are covered in some of these substances and chemicals, it can be toxic to their system if it penetrates their skin or if it gets ingested. This leaves us in a very delicate place as far as how much we can help these birds in such a short period of time.

Luckily, these two birds have made it through the beginning process of removing the substances from their feathers and the dawn baths which restore their natural waterproofing. Glue traps, motor oils, paint, stain, tar, construction foam, caulk and more are all among the products that can severely injure or kill a bird if they come into contact with it. Please keep in mind when using these materials outside this summer that they should be kept covered at all times. Remind your neighbors too! This is an easy way to help keep your backyard birds happy and safe from harm this summer season.

Guest Blogger C.M.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ever heard of a Hibernaculum?

Northern snakes, such as Garter species, Red-bellied Snakes, and Fox Snake migrate to what is called a hibernaculum (or hibernation site) every winter. Snakes may travel up to two miles to their hibernation site, which is usually the same den used for hibernating in previous years. Snakes can hibernate in aggregations - hundreds of snakes gathering in the same hibernaculum, spending the winter together and accessible to each other for spring breeding. During the winter, temperatures in the hibernaculum never drop below 37-39 F at which snakes may safely remain for about sixteen weeks without serious loss of body weight or impact on general health. One of the ways they are able to sustain such dormancy is to stock up on body fat by feeding heavily during the late summer.

When spring weather arrives, the hibernaculum may take two or more weeks to warm up. During this time, the snakes slowly come awake, some making short forays outside the den, returning to the hibernaculum for the night to avoid the still-cold spring night temperatures above ground. This feature helps ensure they will not be caught out during a late frost.

This February WINC received several snakes from a family who had found a hibernaculum in their window well. Some construction had happened to disturb the hibernaculum forcing several snakes to be noticed in their window well. Since the snakes were woken up and trapped in the window well, the family was advised to bring any snakes they had found into the center. Releasing the snakes would have killed them, as they could not survive the temperatures without the help of the hibernaculum. The family brought a total of nine snakes (three Red-bellied Snakes, three Common Garter Snakes and three Eastern Plains Garter Snakes) in for us to overwinter until spring.

To our surprise two of the Garter snakes give birth to baby snakes before spring was here! One of the Eastern Plains Garter snakes had 27 babies and one of the Common Garter Snakes had nine babies! Soon the snake corner in the clinic was known as Snake City as the population had grown drastically! Feeding time became a two person job as several baby earthworms would be placed in with the babies and staff would have to watch for babies would eat and then place them back in with their mother. After two weeks it was finally nice enough to release the snakes.

We called the family and explained that the number of snakes had multiplied three-fold! They were more then happy to get all the snakes back onto their beautiful large property, which was a relief because snakes should always go back to where they came from. Snakes’ home ranges are usually quite small, so placing them somewhere that they are not familiar with can be very detrimental. 

On April 29, 2011 we released a total of 45 snakes back to the wild! It was a unique experience caring for the baby snakes – an experience that staff and volunteers won’t ever forget!

Guest Blogger, M.F.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What animal would you get if you crossed a duck, a beaver, and an otter?

A Platypus

Everyone loves a good riddle, especially one with an educational twist! To prove this the Wildlife In Need Center is launching a question of the month contest! Each month we will pose a question. When you have the answer to the question you can submit it to us. At the end of each month we will have a random drawing of the correct entries!

The answers to all our questions will always be found somewhere on our website.

Monthly questions can be found in several ways:

  • On our Facebook page
  • In one of our blog posts
  • On the Events Calendar page of our website
  • Posted at the Center
You can also submit your answers in several ways:

  • Post it on our Facebook page (after you ‘like’ us)
  • Send your name, address, phone number and email address (if you have one) to:
W340 S2383 County Road C, Oconomowoc, WI 53066

One lucky entrant from the correct entries each month will win $10 in WINC WILD Money to spend on a new WINC hat, baby animal finger puppet, or to apply towards the purchase of a sweatshirt and more!

On behalf of our wild neighbors, have fun riddling -and learning!

In the spirit of the season our inaugural question of the month is about babies! Remember, the answer to all of our questions will be found on our website –happy hunting!

Complete the following sentence: “If you see a small rabbit that is about 4 inches in length from nose to tail in a hunched position,…”

Can you tell us what page of our website this answer can be found on?

Bonus question! Every once in awhile we will offer a bonus question. If you are the lucky entrant whose name is chosen and you’ve correctly answered the bonus question you will be rewarded with a free WINC wristband in addition to your WINC WILD Money!

This month's Bonus Question: When is WINC's next PUBLIC program?

The fine print: If you’ve won one of our monthly drawings you are welcome to continue to participate each month however, you will be excluded from being a winner again for 3 months following your win.