Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC newsletter.
Unusual Times Bring Unusual Guests! We have had a startling influx of unexpected wildlife joining us lately. The Sloth is adorable and wonderfully low-key, and its slowness makes examining it unusually easy. The Dodo is quite cute, but for some reason there are no guidelines for its care in our bird books! The Armadillo keeps tearing up the yard and is totally uncooperative when it comes to being examined - just try to examine an unwilling armadillo! They call its covering "armor" for a reason. The giraffe is quite good-natured but is the ultimate example of the problem we're having with all of these creatures; we don't exactly have appropriate dietary items on hand, much less caging! Where to temporarily keep a giraffe? Perhaps once we get past today, April Fools' Day, things will be a little clearer.
A Trio of WESOs flies free Western Screech Owls are sometimes referred to as WESOs for short, and we're quite familiar with them. We've had four in care so far this year. The first was hit by a car, and the person who found it didn't know what to do with it, so it spent the night in his car and came to us the next day. It had severe head trauma. The second one had been caught by a cat that brought it into the house through the cat door. The owl escaped from the cat and hid in the laundry room, and the people didn't know it was there for a few days! It was in relatively good condition but needed fluids and food. The third one was hit by a car and picked up in the road. It had some head trauma and a badly bruised body which took time to heal. These three owls all eventually recovered and were released, the last on March 5. The fourth owl, which came in the next day, was not so lucky. It had broken bones in the wing and leg and died in the night.
All owls cast pellets (cough them up), which consist of the indigestible remains (fur, bones, and insect exoskeletons) of the whole prey they eat. That first WESO which came into care coughed up all it had eaten onto the rescuer's car seat, where the owl had spent the night. The food hadn't been digested yet, so we could identify what had been eaten. It was a bunch of potato bugs! This was January, and it was very interesting to see what the owl was eating at that time of year and how many bugs it had found already that evening before being hit by the car.
Red-Tailed Hawk This lovely lady came in February 28, having been hit by a car, but of more concern than the expected head trauma was the condition of her feet. She has a severe case of bumblefoot, which is a bacterial infection that gets into the feet and, if not stopped, into the bones. Possible causes of bumblefoot include poor nutrition, vitamin A deficiency, stress, an unsanitary environment, lack of activity, being bitten by their prey, electrocution, spending a lot of time on the ground after an injury, and improper perching surfaces. This last contributes to our concern about providing varied substrates and proper perches for birds in captivity and keeping perches clean. Her feet have been soaked, treated with medicine and wrapped (note the camouflage wraps in the photo.) Every few days her feet get inspected; giving a hawk a pedicure with those talons can be challenging. It takes three volunteers, one to hold the hawk, one to hold the toes open, and one to apply the ointment and re-wrap the toes. In the beginning, she didn't eat or fly, but soon she was eating on her own and flying up into the hide. After a month in care, the feet were healed enough to move her outside. We hope to release her in two weeks.
Winter is cage time, and we've been busy! We maintain and sometimes modify those cages we already have and build new ones. It's a wonderful time of anticipating better accommodations for our "guests." We are permitted by CA Fish and Wildlife, and our caging has to meet minimum standards that were developed by the wildlife rehabilitation community.
You may remember our "big screen squirrel TV" from last fall, two 4'x8'x8' cages meant to be temporary, but we liked the cages so much, we rebuilt them slightly more sheltered and twice as big! Now we have two 8'x8'x8' cages which will accommodate most small mammals: any kind of squirrel will have a wonderful time growing up in them, and they will also be great cages for opossums, foxes and bobcats. We will not use these cages for rabbits, as there is too much activity around them. We have no caging for raccoons yet, raccoon caging can not be used by other species due to possible raccoon roundworm contamination. Maybe that will be what we build next winter.
In our "down the hill" area, we have a brand new 8'x16'x8' mammal cage which can be a used as a jackrabbit cage. We'd rather get jackrabbits farther away from the hustle and bustle, but this will do until we get another location graded for an additional cage this size. If we have no jackrabbits in care, this can be used for foxes or bobcats or even flying squirrels to allow them to practice bigger leaps. This cage is preferable to smaller cages for these animals, but we can use smaller cages if this one is occupied, as they all meet the minimum standards. We still need a double door, but the panels are built, so it can be ready for use in no time at all.
The Clark's Grebe on the left and the American Coot swimming away both crash-landed on rain-soaked streets, thinking they were landing on water. They both hit hard and needed a few days of R&R. After many hours in our bathtub, separately of course, we were able to release them on Soulsbyville Pond where they dove and swam away.
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.
Don Milam has been a genuine asset to us for almost a year now. He found us at the Volunteer Fair at the fairgrounds last year and soon stepped up to help in various ways. Like many of us, he hadn't had any experience working with animals before, although he had always been an outdoor person.
Don grew up in Los Banos, where he still has family, and he's lived in Sonora for thirty-two years. When he was in his twenties he was a carpenter, and he built his own house. Those abilities have been very helpful to us in the cage-building area. Don is happy to do anything else that's needed. He remembers going with Laura to pick up a Great Blue Heron in a parking lot and helping "corral" it. Releases are, of course, especially rewarding, and he once took a basket of swallows down to Merced Wildlife Refuge to release them, as they might otherwise "miss the bus" (not be able to find others that were starting to migrate in time to join them.)
"It's fun to be involved in helping all the little creatures."
Director’s Docket: What interesting times we are living in. It can be scary and make us anxious, but it can also be relaxing and a time to focus on home. I know my countertops are cleaner than usual. We'll get through this one day at a time by working together. It's nice to see people stepping up to help where they can. I watch outside, and it seems like the world belongs to the wildlife, all going about their lives unchanged while ours are at a standstill. I miss having all the volunteers come, but thankfully it has been slow and we have been able to deal with what intakes we have had while following recommended protocols. I don't know what the next month will bring, but I hope social distancing and sheltering at home shuts this virus down. I'm looking forward to sunny days and sitting outside watching the birds making nests and the squirrels hunting for the acorns left on the ground. That's food for my soul, and I hope it nourishes you as well. Stay healthy and safe. We will continue to do what we can to help wildlife in need. ~Laura Murphy
The Commission on Aging's Senior Expo is a great way to find resources specific to individuals 50 and beyond within Tuolumne County. We'll be there with materials showing what we do and looking for new volunteers. We hope to see you there.
This incredible event puts 75 non-profit organizations under one roof. What better way to find something you connect with and want to spend some of your time volunteering to help. Obviously, we hope you'll want to volunteer with us, but volunteering wherever your passion is makes our world a better place.
Following the shelter at home recommendations, the Home and Garden Show has been rescheduled for October. We count on these events to bring us visibility and volunteers. We don't know what this summer will bring, but without more volunteers, our ability to care for baby songbirds will be reduced. If you would like to help out, please call (209) 677-7249.
If you haven't received an email version of this newsletter and would like to, please go to our website, www.mlwild.organd 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. Don Milam provided his photo, and Laura Murphy provided the remaining photos, except for the photo accompanying the poem. This was found on pixabay from TeeFarm, along with the April Fools' graphics: sloth - ralfdesign, dodo bird - ChaminaGallery, armadillo - openclipart-vectors, and the giraffe - clkerfree-vector-images.
“Here, also, the future was cried aloud by the wind through the rocks, so that all those who heard would shiver, and then the liquid spring song of the thrush would make all the beauty of moonlight and sunlight blend together, making it true, so true, that happiness must come again”
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
Big Brown Bat
8 Virginia opossums
2 Western Grey Squirrels