So what’s a rehabber to do when some jackass calls, says they have a bird and then refuses to bring it to said rehabber, or to meet them anywhere—and then even starts changing their tale as to who actually has the bird?
Believe it or not, this just happened not once but twice in the same day. Caller one, Saturday afternoon, had an owl, probably a screech, possibly with a broken leg. I offered to meet him later that afternoon, and he hedged—could we meet Sunday morning? Sure, no problem.
Caller two, late Saturday night, had a red tailed hawk, so identified by the deputy who told them to call DNR, who referred them to me. Since I was already slated to meet one person Sunday morning, but in a different direction, I told this caller I could meet them either before or after the owl pickup. She opted for after, so we set the time and place and I told her to call me to confirm the hawk made it through the night, as she kept saying it was really lethargic.
This morning, I head out to meet owl guy but he’s not at the designated spot. I’m a little early, so no worries, right? I call to let him know where I’m parked, leave a message when he doesn’t answer, and call hawk lady, as I’ve not heard from her yet.
Hawk lady claims she sent the owl to her father, and asks if I can come pick it up, in the same breath. Did you listen to my voicemail message last night, lady? I don’t drive all over the southern half of Georgia to pick up animals. I can’t do that and properly care for the ones I currently have under care. Then she calls her father on another line, while still on the phone with me, and informs me that the bird is still alive and gives me her brother’s phone number and her father’s address. I call; no answer. I report this to DNR and while I’m on the phone with them, getting connected to the game warden for that region (not my local game wardens), I get a text message from owl guy.
Owl guy “forgot” to call me and tell me he couldn’t make it this morning; could we “try again” tomorrow? As soon as we had hawk lady and family under investigation, I texted owl guy back, saying that I was at our designated meeting spot and it would’ve been nice if he’d called before I’d wasted time and gas on a fruitless trip.
His response? “I’m sure you’ll get over it.” No mention of attempting to get the owl to me. Nothing.
As (bad) luck would have it, owl guy is also in the other law enforcement region, so I call the poor fellow back and now he’s got two idiots to deal with on a Sunday. You know, it’s not like these folks don’t bust their butts doing their jobs; they do. They’re dedicated, understaffed and overworked, and I hate adding to their burden, especially on nights/weekends. But the terms of my permits require that I report suspected criminal activity, and guess what? Possession of wildlife without a permit IS A CRIME.
The Good Samaritan law covers anyone who finds and rescues wildlife for 24 hours—time enough to locate a rehabber and get the wildlife to them. You’re not breaking the law when you rescue orphaned, injured or ill wildlife—AS LONG AS YOU GET IT TO A LICENSED REHABBER WITHIN 24 HOURS.
Wildlife is NOT some sort of “show and tell” exhibit to impress your neighbors and Facebook friends; it takes the right training and skills to properly care for these critters—and if you suspect the animal is ill or injured, WHY would you want to hold it any longer than it took to find someone who could assess its injuries/illness and begin treatment immediately? Do these people ENJOY watching wildlife suffer due to their depraved indifference? Folks, that’s just cruel and unusual, and I’m gonna be totally honest and state that I fervently hope the Karma Fairy visits these two individuals and repays them in droves for their callous disregard for the welfare of these birds.
Now excuse me while I step off my soapbox…
The weirdness of this week didn’t just gang up LWR on the weekend; we had a couple of strange situations earlier in the week, as well. A caller from a neighboring county had a Northern flicker that, from her description as lethargic and docile, sounded ill. She found it by her vehicle tire and it didn’t move when she approached. Yeah, not sounding good, so we agree to meet.
The bird is in a pet carrier and looks to me to be alert and antsy—ready to go. I’m not seeing an issue, so I ease the door open juuuust enough to wedge my hand in and grab him for transfer to one of my boxes. He squeezes by my hand and through the tiny opening and flies off with absolutely no problem. Then the finder informs me that he “might” have hit her office window, as the car was parked near the office. *sigh* Had this info been offered to begin with, I could’ve told her to keep the bird quiet, cool and in a darkened room for a couple of hours and then offer him his freedom.
For future reference, folks, when you suspect an adult bird is a windowstrike victim—grounded, woozy/lethargic, maybe on its side or back, allows human contact—place it in a box (that has not previously held chemicals, air fresheners, etc.) and put the box in a dark, cool, quiet place for an hour or two. If the bird seems alert at that point, open the box and see if it can fly away; if not, call your local rehabber ASAP, as there’s obviously more than a concussion going on there.
And then we had the folks who found an adult great horned owl hanging by its feet from a vine/fence/vine-covered fence—that was never real clear to me. He seemed docile and weak and couldn’t hold his head up, etc., so again, we agreed to meet. While I gloved up they opened the cage, and I saw…a dead bird. I informed them he was dead, and they were aghast; he’d been alive but in poor shape when they left home.
I took the carcass to dispose of it; before disposal, I examined the bird. No fractures that I could locate; thin but not starvation-thin, but dark blood draining from the beak…I’m betting that owl was a victim of rodenticide poisoning. Folks, rat bait and bait stations are DEADLY to unintended victims. When a raptor eats a rodent that has ingested rodenticide, the raptor dies too. Please, PLEASE don’t use that stuff.
The hummer is fine; I just forgot to get any new photos this week. His fate is still very uncertain, however, and it’s probably not going to end well for him since he’s still unable to fly.
But look at the new feather growth on the cat-attacked mourning dove! He did succeed in knocking out his sole remaining tail feather, but that won’t affect him as far as being placed in the flight pen this week.