It’s been a hectic couple of weeks. Since April 13 I’ve received a nestling Carolina wren, a chipmunk, a fawn (a little buck), a nestling house finch and two nestling mockers!
The wren and finch are already attempting short flights; the chipmunk has been released; the fawn is eating well. I contacted another rehabber to see about transferring him, to avoid the possibility of imprinting because he’s so very young. Deer, especially really young ones, really need companions of their own species. Unfortunately, the next-closest rehabber has no deer at the moment, so I’m being VERY careful to avoid anything other than the contact needed to feed this baby. He needs to retain his innate distrust of humans.
Actually, this is the goal with all wildlife rehab: the animals should trust the person who feeds them but remain fearful of all other humans. This is difficult for some people to understand, as these little wildlings are sooo cute and cuddly and helpless...but you don’t cuddle them, and you don’t over-handle ‘em, and you do everything possible to make sure they have all the skills they need to survive in the wild. By the time they’re approaching release age, they should be at the point that they don’t even want their rehabber to handle them. Remember, the goal of wildlife rehab isn’t to make pets of these critters; it’s to raise them to be able to take their rightful places in nature.
After all, it’s human activity that lands most of these animals in a wildlife rehab facility, to begin with: overdevelopment, encroaching on their breeding grounds, pruning/cutting down trees during the height of breeding season, driving like maniacs and mowing down animals who have no defenses against automobiles - the list of human damage goes on and on. The very least we can do is give these animals a second chance at life, and trying to make pets of them is a death sentence, not a chance at the life they deserve.
Sermon over...did someone pass the collection plate??
The two mockers aren’t nestmates; they aren’t even the same age. But they’re close enough to be housed together. The older of the two came in with a broken right leg, just above the foot. Because it was so close to an open fracture, I asked Peggy Hobby of Smalley’s Animal Hospital to take a look at it. Even though I wasn’t able to get the bird to the clinic until after they’d closed, Peggy waited for me and not only examined but also splinted the leg. The vets at Smalley’s, as I may have mentioned once or twice, are amazing people!
The gray squirrels have all been released; the flyer was released but came back. I do soft releases, meaning that the animals have the option of returning until they’re totally comfortable in their new environment, so having them come back or hang around for supplemental feedings for a while is the norm.
The wood ducks are growing like weeds - they’re already getting tail feathers in! By the end of May, I’m guessing I should be able to move them into a flight pen with a wading pool.
Sadly, two of the three blue gray gnatcatchers died from unknown causes. All three were hale and hearty at their last feeding one night, and the next morning two were goners. This can be one of the frustrating aspects of wildlife rehab, when you know you’re doing everything right and the animals seem to be thriving and then die for no apparent reason.
The surviving gnatcatcher is doing well and about ready for release. I’ve been waiting until I knew she was eating on her own, and she’s been carefully hiding the fact that she’s doing so for several days now, the little sneak! She’s been flying beautifully for about a week, and now that I know for a fact that she can catch insects for herself, it’s time to offer her freedom. Mind you, she may refuse to leave the first several times or hang around for days or weeks for supplemental feedings from me, and that’s fine - goes back to the soft release concept.
Keep checking regularly for updates on the critters I’ve mentioned here. I can’t promise weekly updates, which was my original goal, but I’ll certainly try!