The switch finally flipped for the red shoulder and he remembered he was a raptor, a fierce bird of prey, and not a lovely thawed-rodent-consuming tchotchke. This is something rehabbers try to stress to people who think injured birds—especially raptors—they’ve found are “so calm” or “so sweet”. Often it’s because they’re still stressed, concussed or in shock. And sometimes it can last a good, long while.
In the red shoulder’s case, I was honestly beginning to wonder if he was a former falconry bird (yes, falconers will hunt with red-shouldered hawks, although they prefer red tails) who’d been poorly trained and then released. I’d even gotten a little complacent, lifting his whole perch out with him on it when I changed his paper.
And then…mid-week, in the midst of a paper change, he wigged out and asserted that he was, in fact, a hawk, dammit! He then began eating his own mice, thank you very much, and glaring at me when I checked on him—in short, now that he remembered who he was, he was ready to leave the LWR B&B, yesterday, if possible.
But it rained…and it rained…and FINALLY, we had an overcast but rain-free day, with several consecutive rain-free days predicted. The red shoulder was a happy camper!
So CW is back at LWR for the next few weeks. He really doesn’t seem to mind, as I indicated last week. He has unlimited access to delectable goodies and has definitely settled on his favorites. Some birds learn quickly to make the best of a bad situation. CW knows he can’t fly; he knows he’s toast on the ground outside, and he’s figured out that while he’s inside he’s safe and well-fed. Whoever decided “bird-brain” was an insult had obviously never spent any time around these amazingly smart creatures.
I CLEARLY state in my voicemail message that the caller needs to be willing AND able to transport the wildlife to LWR, yet people leave messages all the time wanting me to come pick up injured wildlife.
Folks, rehabbers do NOT get paid for our services. We’re not on the city, county, state, or federal payroll. In other words, your tax dollars don’t pay our salaries because we don’t receive salaries. We are LICENSED VOLUNTEERS. And yes, I’m aware that all that’s a bit repetitious, but I know of no other way to get the point across.
If rehabbers drove to search for and capture every critter we received a call about, we’d have no time to actually rehab anything. Or money, for that matter, as all our funds would go toward keeping the car gassed up to chase down critters who would then die from lack of food or treatment because we’d be off in chase of another critter someone else had called about. Sometimes we have volunteers in an area who can both capture and transport for us; this caller was in an area where LWR has no such volunteers.
My point—and I do have one—is that if you’re so concerned about injured wildlife that you contact a rehabber, be aware that you’ll need to find a way to get that wildlife to us. Just calling and telling us the wildlife is “by the side of the road on Route 66” or “in the parking lot at XYZ Store” or wherever and expecting us to drop what we’re doing—which is probably caring for other injured wildlife—isn’t doing a thing but assuaging your conscience: “Look at what a good person I am; I called and reported that injured bird. That mean ol’ rehabber just doesn’t care, or s/he would come get that poor bird.”
Nope. We care—deeply—and you’ve just added to our stress levels—which are already through the roof—by reporting an injured animal that we can’t help because you won’t make the effort to get it to us.
Bottom line: If you’re concerned enough to call a rehabber about injured wildlife, carry that concern a step further and be willing to transport it to the rehabber, as well. We can’t be everywhere all the time.