So much for regular updates, huh? In my defense, since May 1 I’ve taken in 23 animals, so I’ve been a bit busy!
The wood ducks continue to thrive and I’m aiming at having them in a flight pen sometime this week. They need more space and access to a wading pool whenever they want it, not the once-daily swim they’re currently getting. Their feathers are coming in beautifully and it’s time to move them into a more natural setting as they mature to releasable size.
The gnatcatcher has been released and I’ve seen her only once since her release. They’re more treetop birds than branch/ground birds, so I count myself lucky to’ve caught that glimpse of her a week after her release. I know it was her because she had a benign growth on the side of her face - made her pretty distinctive!
The wren and finch are ready for release, as are the two mockers. The one with the broken leg is doing just great. The splint came off May 12 and within three days he was gripping with those toes and hopping around on both feet as if he’d never had a broken bone. I love success stories like this!
Here you can see the mocker shortly after his splint was removed.
I’ve also received three more deer, so the original "only" has companions. They’re all bucks: two are very aggressive in demanding food; one is more patient; the fourth has to be captured before he’ll eagerly take his bottle. He’s still very shy.
I also received another two mockers who’d been fed an inappropriate diet for a week before I got them. Compare this shot of one of the new birds to those of the mockers I’ve had for a while.
Folks, this is why we rehabbers can get strident about having animals under our care as soon as possible. Legal issues aside - and remember, it IS against state law to possess wildlife without a permit and against federal law to possess birds protected under the MBTA without a permit - we have the training and support networks to care for these little ones properly, so they don’t end up looking like this! These babies can be saved, of course, but they’ll probably remain a bit scruffy looking for at least the first year of their lives.
I also have a starling - no photo of this fledgling yet, as he’s still convinced that I’m going to kill him every time I offer food. It’s hard to snap a shot of a bird who’s bouncing off his pen walls when you even look in his general direction!
Starlings aren’t protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as they’re not a native North American species. Because they compete with bluebirds for nesting cavities, I will not release starlings on my property. They do best in urban/suburban settings, anyway, so I usually take them to a park and release them - same for house sparrows.
I also have a bluebird who may end up having to be euthanized. She has severe balance problems that we originally thought were due to a concussion sustained when she fledged too early. Now we’re afraid it may be a neurological disorder that we can’t treat. She walks with great difficulty, refuses to gape for food, and wobbles like a drunk bird when she tries to perch.
This is one of the hardest parts of wildlife rehab: making the decision to euthanize an unreleasable animal. With her severe balance problems, however, this little love would be a sitting duck for predators - if she didn’t crash into a window and break her neck.
We all have those species we lose all logic over, and mine is bluebirds. This little girl really needed to’ve been put down last week, but she’s alert and will eat eagerly when I force-feed her - her balance issues apparently make it hard for her to focus properly on the feeding syringe and gape for it - and she’s been steadily gaining weight. But...the fact remains that unless we can dredge up a miracle somehow, she’s probably never going to be releasable. It’s not pleasant to consider, but a painless death by injection is better than a broken neck from hitting a window, tree or building head-on or slowly starving to death because she can’t focus and control her movements well enough to capture insects herself.
And quite frankly, I’ve already used up my monthly quota of miracles on two young doves - probably ground doves, looking at their color right now - who tried to crash on me last week. They were fine at their last feeding one night and cold and unresponsive the next morning. I began emergency measures to try and revive them and am happy to report that they’re doing great now. I’m also spoiling them rotten with pretty much whatever they seem to want. I figure miracle birds deserve a little spoiling!
There have also been those animals who didn’t make it, and a couple of transfers when I got in a pair of nestling hawks. I’m not licensed for raptors, so those babies went to Steve & Angie Hicks of Bubba & Friends. They’re a raptors-only facility. One of the babies died the day after transfer, but both had been without food and exposed to the elements for 3 days before I got them, so we’re happy that one of them made it. The latest report from Steve - today, in fact - is that the surviving hawk is "a pig," so he’s obviously eating quite well!
I think that might have me up to date for the moment, although I’m sure I’ve probably forgotten something or someone. It’s that hectic around here these days!