Happy New Year!
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Winter 2017

Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC newsletter.
This magnificent creature, a Great Horned Owl, is one of many animals we've seen this year that were hit by cars.  He was found on Tuolumne Rd.  His shoulder was swollen and separated a little bit, so his wing was kept wrapped for about a week.  He then moved to a slightly larger cage so he could heal more and work the wing.  Eventually he moved to a flight cage, which is where this photo was taken.  After a month in care, he was released November 29 on Black Oak Rd. near Tuolumne Rd.  As our director put it, "he flew away silent and quick, a few wing beats and he was gone in the night."
Another bird hit by a car is this lovely Barn Owl, which came from Oakdale.  The person who found it, on November 14, brought the owl to Sonora to meet one of our volunteers and get it into care.  It had eye issues in addition to severe head trauma.  It's shown a lot of improvement but has some permanent eye damage, so its releasability is still uncertain.
This Western Screech Owl came from La Grange on November 17, after also being hit by a car.  Our volunteer picked it up there, and, as with the Barn Owl, it had eye issues and severe head trauma.  It has shown great improvement and has no permanent eye damage but remains in care.  Before release, both owls must prove they can land on perches, avoid branches in flight, and hunt live prey.
The three Western Gray Squirrels currently in care were recently moved to outdoor cages, which may sound harsh when it's so cold, but of course they naturally spend all winter outdoors.  All were found as baby orphans, having fallen from their nests with no mom around.  The oldest one had a leg injury which resulted in a bone infection, and required veterinary care.  She is healed now, but wasn't in time for release before the winter weather arrived.  The other two squirrels weren't ready in time, either, so all will spend the winter in cages and go free once Spring comes again.
This Sharp-Shinned Hawk, from Mariposa, was in our care this year after a window strike.  It survived for six days, but finally died from its injuries, as happens too often.
Western Tanager, from Bear Valley, was also in our care after a collision with a window. It recovered slowly and we worried it would miss migration and need to be overwintered. However, after six weeks in care, it was ready to go.  We saw tanagers still in the area and knew ours could join them for the trip south. 

Bird/Glass Collisions

All or most of us have had the experience of hearing that horrid thump which means a bird has struck a window.  It may seem like a relatively rare occurrence, but many hundreds of millions of birds, some say a billion or more, die each year in this country alone from collisions with glass.  Such collisions are the second greatest cause of human-related bird mortality, after habitat destruction, and about half of the collisions are with glass on residences.  They happen everywhere and at any time, but most often in the spring and fall, in communities on a migratory route, and of course we are in the Pacific Flyway. 

Our immediate concern is how best to help the bird, if it has survived the collision.  Holding the bird gently, move it into a paper bag/box with air holes and lined with paper towels.  Place the box in a closet or warm, dark, quiet room.  (Without dark and quiet, the bird will be on alert at some level, concerned about a predator's possible approach.)  20 to 30 minutes later, take the box outside and open it; often the bird will fly away!  If it does not, call us and we'll take the bird into care.

These collisions happen because birds can't see glass, so they see the reflection of trees or sky in the window and fly toward it.  We can work to prevent bird strikes by applying decals or tape specifically designed for this purpose to our windows. These break up the images in the glass so they don't lure the birds.  One such product is BirdTape from the American Bird Conservancy.   Information on that and other options may be found at  If window glass needs replacing, one might consider Ornilux glass, which has a coating making it visible to birds, and it's available with a low-E (solar control) coating also:  There are other brands of such glass available also.

About half the glass collisions happen with commercial buildings.  Fortunately, there is growing knowledge and concern about this, and architects and builders are more aware of, and willing to use, approaches that will help: limiting the amount of glass used, and/or using coated glass, and creating features that cast shade on the glass.  Some communities have enacted legislation that requires such measures.

At an individual level and at a societal level, there are things we can do to reduce the number of bird strikes, and we can always be alert and willing to help the birds who hit glass in our immediate area.

(An excellent, extensive article about this, and a source of some of this information:

We hope to provide interesting articles and fun features, a look into the world of the creatures around us and the efforts required to help them when needed.  Your comments regarding what you like and what you might like to see in the future are welcome.  This is for your interest and enjoyment.

Director’s Docket:  The New Year is time to reflect on what we accomplished this year (247 animals cared for!) and what we need to continue to do the best job we can. Each animal we release is a win, and we tell some of those stories in this newsletter and Facebook, but there are those we can't save, and their stories are harder to tell.  We remember the sad ones, and mark their passing, and then we take a deep breath and rejoice in how lucky we are to have looked into the eyes of an electrocuted Great Horned Owl before she died, or held a Red-tailed Hawk as she drew her last breath after being bit by the rattlesnake she had caught. As volunteers, we get to hold animals in our hands, which wouldn't be possible without the injuries that brought them to us.  We get to marvel at the feathers of a bird close up, and then we get to watch it fly free.  We get to make a difference.  Our volunteers are this organization's lifeblood, and I'm grateful for each of them and that we keep finding new ones with passion for this work.  And work it is.  The next few months we'll be building cages, training new volunteers, and preparing for spring, all while caring for those in need.   Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this job!                                                                                     -Laura Murphy   

Sharon South, our songbird maven, has been a wildlife volunteer for over eight years.  She started with Rose Wolf Wildlife in 2008, and Sharon began her focus on songbirds. There were few volunteers, so they filled many roles, learning to do a variety of tasks.  By her second year working with songbirds, she had an aviary with six "rooms" moved onto her property, in order to provide pre-release conditioning for her charges.  She now has a bird hospital, and construction is beginning on an all-metal cage for woodpeckers. 

One of Sharon's most interesting and challenging patients was the Pileated Woodpecker that came into her care in 2015. The pileated is by far the largest woodpecker in the Sierras, with a wingspan of up to 29 inches.  This bird was found near Arnold with feather damage and no tail.  He destroyed or escaped various enclosures until a cage was furnished with large pieces of firewood to keep him busy.  His rapid progress demolishing them earned him the name Flying Beaver.  In six weeks, his tail had regrown, and he was released near where he was found.  Pileated Woodpeckers are rarely in care, but the very next day, a female came to us with, again, feather damage, from a raven attack.  A large screen-lined wire cage was built to contain her as her feathers regrew.  She also was released near where she was found.  Sharon enjoyed both woodpeckers, but found they decimated her mealworm supply!

Sharon's dedication and energy are exceptional, and she is a major asset to us.  She welcomes and appreciates all new volunteers, and wants them to be well aware of the sincere commitment necessary to successfully work with wildlife.
Here we have a wonderful collection of local talent, the Grateful Band.  They play positive, original acoustic music that is danceable.  They perform at Columbia Nursery, 1-3 PM ($15 charge) on the last Sunday of each month.  Band member Alex Kash also performs there starting at 1 PM Tuesday thru Thursday weekly ($15 charge.)  The Can't-Miss Event will be their Prosperity/Positivity Concert April 30th at Columbia Nursery, as it will be a benefit for our 100' cage fund.  Gather or tell friends and family for a great time that will serve a great cause! 
If you haven't received an email version of this newsletter and would like to, please go to our website, and click on the Newsletter link, enter your name and email address, and click Subscribe!   

Most of this newsletter was written by Helen Engledow and edited by her and Laura Murphy.   Judy Kane provided the Great Horned Owl photo, Andrew Maurer - the White Crowned Sparrow, Janelle Betzenderfer - the Western Screech Owl.   Sharon South, Alex Kash and Laura Murphy also provided photos.
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
Henry David Thoreau
Wish List
Reliable Volunteers
Astroturf - long or short leaf
Rubbermaid shelf liner
Gift cards - Lowe's or OSH
                 - Gas Cards
old ice chests (we use these to transport donated frozen mice)

Mealworm Wranglers!  We raise mealworms to feed some of the animals.  We will train any Wrangler how to care for them.  We will provide the plastic trays, the bran medium and carrots for food/moisture.  Wranglers would maintain the colonies, sort when necessary, and keep the volunteers supplied with different sized mealworms.  Interested?  
Call 677-7249 for more information.
Copyright © 2017 Mother Lode Wildlife Care, All rights reserved.

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