Sometimes I think people get the impression that wildlife rehab is all about the "cool" and "warm & fuzzy" stuff. If anyone out there is thinking about becoming a licensed rehabber for the "cool" aspects, let me set the record straight: there’s not one thing cool about being peed, puked and/or pooped on daily. It ain’t "cool" to have a rehab bite, claw, peck or scratch you. Keeping these animals clean and healthy (or nursing them back to health) and preparing them for release takes time, energy and money - lots of each. I know a rehabber who says he’ll end up spending about $20,000 on his raptors this year; fortunately, since I rehab the smaller animals who don’t require rats and chicks for food, I’ll probably end up spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 - and did I mention that what we spend is for the most part out of our own pockets? I promise you, anyone who attempts wildlife rehab for the "cool" factor won’t be in it long - I’d give ‘em 6 months, tops.
As for the "warm & fuzzy" aspect - well, Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends and I joke about me doing the "warm & fuzzies" while he does the raptors, but there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about having an endangered species come in with a fatal injury. Had that happen a couple of weeks ago, in fact: an adult wood stork came in with his right wing pretty much snapped off at the elbow. All that held the lower part in place was soft tissue, and precious little of that.
I honestly didn’t expect the poor bird to make it through the night, but he did, so off we went first thing the next morning to Smalley’s, where Jim Hobby suggested that even though this was a fatal wound, we probably needed to get permission from the feds to euthanize, since wood storks are listed as endangered in Georgia. So I called FWS, we got permission to end the bird’s suffering, and they requested that Smalley’s send the corpse to UGA for research purposes. I promise you, there was nothing "warm & fuzzy" about any of this, but the stork wasn’t going to survive. We did what needed to be done, and at least his body will provide valuable information for researchers trying to save the species.
In other critter updates, the dog-pinned red shoulder was released shortly after the last LWR update. He’s a gorgeous creature; it was an honor to have him around for a couple of days.
The possums are coming right along and may be ready for release within the next week or so. C’mon, people - you’ve gotta admit they’re actually cute in their own weird way!
Heloise and Abelard have been released and every couple of days, Heloise reappears for a treat. Hildegard is still coming and going - one day out, two days in, etc. - and Spaz hasn’t yet decided to test the great outdoors.
Eliza’s eyes have opened and she’s a veritable bottomless pit. This shot is from right after her eyes opened. I don‘t have updated photos of her because she’s currently rooming with two recent arrivals who are still a little camera-shy. Porgy and Bess are about the same age and fell from their nest, resulting in a pretty severe eye injury for Bess. We’re treating it and watching it closely in hopes that she won ‘t lose vision in that right eye.
The blue jay still hasn’t acquired a proper name, although he’s been called Goober, Twit-face and Poopy-butt a lot lately. In a surprise development, the flight feathers that were ripped out by the dog attack are growing back early: apparently, since they were ripped out at the shaft rather than just broken off, his little body was signaled to replace ‘em. Unfortunately, the improper diet he was fed before I received him has resulted in very brittle older feathers. Hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t break off another tail feather or two in quite routine activity. No new pix of him this time; he’s not still long enough these days - too busy testing those new wing feathers!