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Thanksgiving 2021


Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC newsletter.

Fury the Gray Fox was found with his leg tangled in a fence at Indigeny Reserve a few days before Thanksgiving last year.  He had torn a ligament which required surgery, and a plate and screws were put in his leg; see the left photo.  Dr. Tanya Jackson of Twain Harte Veterinary Hospital was just wonderful, even providing house calls for continued care.  We named him Fury because his cage was trashed every morning and we thought he was furious being in captivity.  A night vision camera, however, revealed no fury; he simply rearranged everything in his cage all night long, but the name stuck.  He was a challenge to work with, but so rewarding; he made us smile every day - such personality!  He was released on March 27 where he was found, and as the photo on the right shows, we were very happy to see him run off into a free life.
We felt like our good work and lessons learned with Fury were rewarded by the arrival of a 3-week-old Gray Fox on May 5.  Gray Foxes will not remain wild if raised alone, so we worked with another wildlife center that also had a singleton.  They were well matched in age, but our fox kit was dominant and very food motivated.  The other kit had a preference for soft fluffy things.  We tried to watch them with the cameras in their cage, but their ability to climb vertical walls meant the camera was whacked out of position and then never pointed where originally focused.  After five months of care, they were released, and with their usual lithe, graceful movements flowed like water through the fence opening and went off into their new lives.
An amazing year with a variety of amazing animals.  The first to arrive was a Great Gray Owl, an endangered owl in California. Its wing was absolutely shattered.  We tried everything to save it, but in the end, it had to be euthanized.  Next, we responded to a call about an Osprey in the road and found an uninjured juvenile that just needed help crossing the highway.  We took him across to Don Pedro, only to find a Porcupine dying of heat exhaustion!  So we made a trade, left the osprey on the rocks, and took the porcupine home.  We thought he might have brain damage from the heat, as he circled with an unusual posture and wobbly gait, but as he continued to worsen, we determined it was due to a brain parasite.  We treated it with everything we could, but he continued to deteriorate.  He was a real challenge to care for - those quills! - and there was no safe way to handle him.  All the volunteers considered it a treat to sit on the steps outside his cage and watch him eat.  He was amazing and endearing but finally had to be euthanized.  This is the most difficult part of what we do and just doesn't get any easier.  Two heartbreaking endings had to be followed by a good one:  A juvenile Swainson's Hawk, a threatened species,  came up from Manteca.  He was struggling with the heat and not finding enough food.  We got him healthy and plump, gave him hunting practice, then released him at the San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge, where he could continue to practice his hunting skills while waiting for other juveniles to congregate, as they migrate together. 
Don't forget, you can make a voluntary donation to The Native Wildlife Rehabilitation Grant Program when doing your California State taxes.  These funds are available for California wildlife centers and we will be eligible to obtain another $9000 grant next year!   
This handsome pair of Great Horned Owls were found as chicks, out of the nest.  Please call a wildlife care center for guidance before picking up any "abandoned" chicks, as they can often be reunited with their parents, which is always best.  They were in our care for five months and were released where we could provide backup food, as that's what their parents do in the wild.  They have been hunting, though, and have not needed any food from us.  They still come around every week or two and hoot from the treetops so we know they are still out there.
We saw a lot of young raptors that left the nest early due to the heat.  (From left: Kestrel, Cooper's Hawks, Barn Owl, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Western Screech Owl.) Some we were able to hydrate, feed for a few weeks, and return to the nest area for their parents to continue care, and some we had to keep longer and provide with hunting skills before their release.  This Red-shouldered Hawk also had surgery on its leg and made a complete recovery.
Songbirds R Us!  We had more songbirds than usual this year, and with a shortage of volunteers, caring for them was even more of a challenge than usual.  Above you'll see a Western Tanager, an Oak Titmouse, House Finches, Pacific-Slope Flycatchers, and a Western Bluebird.  There was an especially large number of House Finches and many other songbirds, including Black Phoebes, California Towhees, Hummingbirds and Bushtits.  There are always some intakes that do not survive, but we were able to get 69% of those that had a chance to reach self-sufficiency and be successfully released and that's not bad. 

The need to replace volunteers who have retired or moved away, etc., is great and will be especially so next year from May through August, baby bird season.  That is when volunteers either feed baby birds at home from dawn to dusk or come to the center to do so in four-hour shifts (one or more shifts per week.)  Coming to the center is of course dependent upon our new location being up and running by next Spring.  Let us know if you'd like to participate in this rewarding experience!  
This spring we were the beneficiary of an Eagle Scout ProjectCameron Miller had more than the usual concerns as he had to work around COVID restrictions, in addition to the usual materials procurement, design, and people managing skills.  He is in the center of the photo, with his father, Steve, and Laura MurphyThe boxes turned out to be well-timed, as we had six sets of squirrels that each needed a box. They were well used and most appreciated by us and the squirrels!
Foxes aside, we've handled quite a few mammal species this past year.  In addition to the Western Gray SquirrelsBlack-tailed Jackrabbits, and Virginia Opossums, we had a bonus, a neonate Chipmunk!  He was so tiny on intake, but grew into a speedy little guy, extremely cute, and it was fascinating to see him evolve.  At one time, we had at least one of every native squirrel species in care: the Western Gray Squirrel, Douglas Squirrel, California Ground Squirrel, and the Northern Flying Squirrel.  We love the variety of wildlife in the foothills.
We are grateful to all of our volunteers.  Every animal we are able to care for is because of our volunteers' willingness to give of themselves, their time, both in being trained to do this work and for the actual animal care.  Some volunteers set aside a place in their homes for these animals, others commit to a shift at the center doing whatever needs to be done, and others help on the Board, keeping the organization running.  All are essential and we need more of them! 

Director’s Docket:  Mother Lode Wildlife Care has grown since we began in 2014 and this location has been good to us, but it is time for the next phase, finding a home of its own.  We are so grateful for the community support we have received over the years and hope to find a new home for our organization that will allow us to continue to grow and care for the animals in need.  Thank you everyone for the donations that keep us going and provide us with the means to move forward toward our new goal.  We don't need a lot of land, it just has to be flat enough to accommodate a 100' flight cage and more, with water, sewer and power possibilities.  Until we find our new home, we will continue to do what we can with the cages we are able to put on our volunteers' properties.  Without the large flight cages however, we'll have to work with other wildlife centers to insure the bigger birds are able to rebuild their abilities.  Give us a call if you'd like to provide transport between wildlife centers for these birds.  Please be patient with us during this transition, we hope to be bigger and better soon. 
                                                                          ~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!   
This newsletter was written and edited by Helen Engledow and Laura Murphy.   Helen Engledow provided most of the songbird photos, except Sharon South provided the photo of the House Finches.  Laura Murphy provided the remaining photos, except for the photo accompanying the poem below.  This was created by Prawny and was found on Pixabay. 

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."

- Stanley Horowitz

Wish List
Reliable Volunteers - in particular,
         Baby Songbird feeders
              -  4 hour shifts May - August
              - 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

Barn Owl
dog caught, feather damage from being kept in a wire cage

(2) Western Screech Owls
hit by car, severe head trauma
logging accident

(2) Western Gray Squirrels
fell from nest, dog caught

Northern Flying Squirrel
cat caught

2 Virginia Opossums
not thriving on their own

Guess which species of bird we have gotten the most of.
We have received an amazing 69 Western Screech Owls
in the last 5 years.
Copyright © 2021 Mother Lode Wildlife Care, All rights reserved.

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