So…why DO we rehab? I have three stock answers I offer to people, depending on my level of exasperation and my perception of their intelligence level: 1) Insanity; 2) To try and compensate for general human stupidity concerning wildlife and the environment; and 3) To partially ameliorate the deleterious effects of human activity on our native flora and fauna.
I tend to rely heavily on #1 as my go-to explanation—it’s quicker. If the asker seems reasonably intelligent, I’ll escalate to #2. I won’t lie to you; I reserve #3 for pompous, arrogant types who need to be brought down a peg or two and those condescending types who think they know everything and who act like I work for them. I love the blank looks on their faces as they mentally try to decipher that phrase!
And then there are those who are just so clueless I don’t even know where to begin ranting about them—those types, I don’t even offer an explanation to. I try to talk to them as little as possible while I retrieve the wildlife needing my attention. One such example comes from this past week:
A caller says he has an unspecified hawk at a gas station in town. The hawk was hit by an 18-wheeler, and the caller hems and haws about actually TOUCHING the poor, injured bird to get it to me. Rehabber exasperation level: HIGH
I stop what I’m doing—which, by the way, is the editing that actually pays my bills—and head for the gas station to see what can be done for the hawk.
I get there and the caller and a buddy are standing there scratching their butts and picking their noses, staring at this poor hawk—a gorgeous mature female red tail—on the pavement. Rehabber irritation level: HIGH and escalating
THEN...I find out the damn driver who hit her isn't even there; he left Frick and Frack to deal with her. And it's actually a good thing he's not there at this point, because the doofus who called me says the absent driver hit her in SAVANNAH. That's 100 miles away from our current location. He drove ONE HUNDRED MILES with this injured RT plastered to his grille and it never occurred to his dim little brain to stop and remove her and see how bad the injuries were—and I suppose that was actually a good thing, since if he had, she might have been dumped by the road to die, given his obvious lack of concern for her welfare. Had dumbass driver actually been present, several of my local friends might have been pooling resources to go my bail…at the very least, he would have gotten a severe and quite profane tongue-lashing. Rehabber anger level: OFF THE CHARTS
And then one of the big, brave men who observed as I picked up an unresisting, shocky RT had the temerity to ask, “I don’t have to pay anything for this, do I?” Rehabber contempt level: Approaching critical mass
I understand that birds fly out in front of vehicles and that sometimes hitting them is unavoidable, but damn, people—stop and check on the bird; don't just keep driving! I just keep imagining the sheer terror this poor bird experienced plastered to the front of that grille...for 100 miles…
Her wing was shattered; there was nothing we could do. And yes, it sucked big-time.
To be honest, I’m still not sure what’s going on with this barred owl. Nothing’s broken; he seems to hear and see just fine; he eats well—and on his own. But he just sits in the corner of the box, usually facing the corner, unless he’s eating. It’s too early in the year for West Nile, or I’d actually guess he might be in its early stages. I dunno; I’m giving him more time to see if we can figure out what his issue is.