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Thanksgiving 2020


Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC newsletter.

This has been a very interesting year, and we look forward to the world being 'normal and boring' and not quite so interesting.  We've got a lot of catching up to do since our last newsletter on April 1st, so we'll just hit some of the highlights.
This beautiful juvenile Great Horned Owl was spotted on a road in Modesto by people traveling through, who delivered it to us the following morning.  It was in pretty good shape for having bounced off a car, but its right leg was hurting.  It got medicine for the inflammation and a safe place for the bruises to heal.  Once it was using its leg, we verified its flying and hunting skills. 👍 Next, we had to weigh the merits of either releasing it back where it came from and hoping the parents would continue with its education or transferring it to another rehabber to be kept with other juvenile GHOs for continued care (young Great Horned Owls stay with their parents for months after leaving the nest.)  Since we only had it a couple of weeks, and Great Horned Owls are very territorial, chances were good the parents would find this kid, so we drove it back to Modesto and released it into an orchard next to where it was found. We hope its hoots were soon answered. 
A Barn Owl was found on the ground one morning, and the finders had no idea where the nest might be, so they brought the owl to us.  Then, that evening, we got another one from someone else, only to find the owls came from opposite ends of the same street in Copperopolis!  If they came from the same nest, one of these owls traveled quite a distance before being found.  They grew up together, developing strength, stamina, and hunting skills.  One night, under a brilliant moon, they were released on that same street in Copperopolis.  
This Green Heron had a rough start in life.  He came from Jamestown and either fell out of the tree wrong or had a run-in with a predator.  He had a broken toe on the left foot and a broken ankle on the right.  We put a 'shoe' on the left foot, taping the broken toe into a better position, and splinted the right ankle.  Fractures at joints tend to freeze, and we worried he would lose mobility, but he healed up great.  The toe wasn't perfect, but it was in better alignment than before, and both the toe and ankle functioned correctly.  We let him hunt crickets and filled his pool with live minnows and then enjoyed watching as he flew away, disappearing into the reeds.
This year, quite a few Virginia Opossums came our way.  Mom wanders with her kids clinging to her back as she forages for food.  Occasionally, one falls off and Mom doesn't go back for it!   We got in a few singletons like that.  Opossums lead a hand-to-mouth existence; anything they touch goes in their mouth, to be spat out if not edible, so they can survive on their own at a fairly young age. However, when they're small they are easy prey for predators, including domestic cats.  We also got a mom who had been hit by a car while carrying her eight babies.  Mom did not survive, but all eight kids did.  We gave them all good food and a safe place to grow up, eventually hiding a variety of food around the cage so they would learn to forage for themselves.  They were last seen ambling off into the bushes just after dark.
We had a Big Brown Bat in care since July of 2019.  She had a long wing tear that only partially healed, so she could not be released.  We transferred her to Nor-Cal Bats in Davis last week, as they are licensed to keep a variety of non-releasable bats to use in educational programs.  The following morning found our Big Brown Bat snuggling with two Mexican Free-tailed Bats.  We hope she enjoys her new friends and has a long and happy life helping to educate people about bats. 

We had a
Common Poorwill in care since September of 2019.  After a little more than a year, in which he had to be hand-fed 2-4 times each and every day, he finally molted all his damaged feathers and we were able to release him.  He had been a lot of work, with volunteers taking on his care for months at a time.  He was very particular about what he would and would not eat, but he became such a part of our lives that now we miss him.  We hope he's loving life on the wing again.
Our Easter came complete with bunnies, Black-tailed Jackrabbits that is, two from a construction site where the habitat was being bulldozed, and a few that were cat-caught.  Even if seemingly uninjured, they can't be reunited with Mom, since we don't know where the cat found them.  Rabbits do not handle stress well, especially when a cat is involved.  If you find a rabbit in need, a warm dark quiet place is essential while you reach out to us.  If you find a single jackrabbit in an appropriate place, it may not need our help.  A few days after birth, the mom separates her kids, so a predator only finds one and not the whole nest.  They lead solitary lives, as the mom comes at dawn and dusk and thumps her feet to call her kids to quickly nurse before she's off again.  If you see one, give us a call if you have questions.
We saw a lot of seriously comprised young Western Gray Squirrels this year.  They came in dehydrated and malnourished, and this affected their fur, and quite a few even opened their eyes early, but with a lot of extra care, fluids, and food, they grew into wonderful-looking animals.  We've still got six in care from the fall season and hope we get a weather window that will allow us to release most of them.  The last one we received has some neurologic issues, so she'll probably stay with us through the winter, and we'll see if they're resolved by spring.
The California Ground Squirrels were late this year, and then we got in a second bunch just after releasing the first bunch.  Their antics never fail to entertain.  They stuff their cheeks with food, shred every bit of newspaper in their cage, sound the alarm, scurry for cover when we approach, and, once outside, they show what good diggers and earth movers they really are. 
We always get a few of our native Band-tailed Pigeons each year.  They are easily ID'd compared to domestic varieties by their yellow legs.  You can tell when Band-tailed Pigeons are in trees by the sounds they make slapping their wings.  House Finches are also frequent guests, and these two are checking out their new aviary digs. 
We decided not to spotlight any one volunteer but instead thank each and every one of them.  They have offered to do whatever was needed as we try to keep all of us healthy and safe.  Many took animals home to care for, and we could not have done without their help.  The squirrels and opossums came back in great shape to go into pre-release cages.  The finches, robins, jays, pigeons, and poorwill went from baskets in houses to pre-release aviaries and then to release, sometimes without ever coming back to the center.    Good Job!!

Director’s Docket:  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we have so much to be thankful for; first and foremost are our wonderful volunteers.  Trying to plan ahead in this uncertain world we find ourselves in is difficult, but the range of options available to us is stunning.  Thank you everyone for the donations that keep us going.  There is a wonderful new grant program available for permitted wildlife rehabilitation facilities.  When you file your taxes, you can make a voluntary donation to the Native Wildlife Rehabilitation Grant Program.  We are receiving $9000 from it this year!   One thing we are certain of is that we can continue to operate even if we have a hard time envisioning how that looks in our COVID-19 world.  We continue to have offers of new volunteers and we hope to have "distance training" in place soon, so new volunteers can be brought up to speed before they are needed next year.  Thank you all for your continued support.  It is our pleasure to be a part of this community and to continue to do what we can to help wildlife in need.                  ~Laura Murphy

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 Laura Murphy and edited by Helen Engledow.   Helen Engledow provided the House Finch photo and Laura Murphy  provided the rest, except the photo accompanying the poem.  This was created by Art Tower and was found on Pixabay. 

"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are."    —    Joyce Giraud

Wish List
Reliable Volunteers - in particular,
         Baby Songbird feeders
              -  4 hour shifts May - September
              - due to current situation, if shifts                    are not possible, more songbird                        homecare volunteers will be needed  
Paper Towels and Kleenex
Clorox or Lysol wipes
Astroturf - long or short leaf
Heavy Duty Rubbermaid shelf liner
Gift cards - Lowe's, Amazon
                 - 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.
Currently in Care

Great Horned Owl
Western Screech Owl
6 Western Grey Squirrels
Domestic Pigeon
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