Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC newsletter.
One heroic heron
In mid-July word came to us of a strange looking bird dragging a broken right leg in downtown Tuolumne. It took us two days to find the juvenile Green Heron and bring him into care. A splint was applied which went over the mid-leg joint, immobilizing the fracture. Ten days later that splint was replaced with one between the joints, as seen above, to allow the leg greater mobility but still support the healing fracture.
Herons are secretive, and life in a hospital cage is unnatural and therefore stressful. Even so, he handled things well in the beginning, taking fish pieces off of forceps. As his fracture healed, he began trying to escape at every opportunity. We moved him into an outdoor cage where he could self feed and hide in the bushes. By the time of his release, after three weeks in care, he really wanted out of the cage, and it was a joy to set him free, back into his own world.
Loving not being needed
We got a call in May from someone cutting down a tree in Sonora. They found a nest, removed the baby Acorn Woodpeckers, and continued cutting. (It would have been better to leave the tree alone till the babies matured and left.) Our volunteer got the birds, examined, hydrated, and fed them. When the tree cutting was over, our volunteers returned with a squirrel nest box. They installed it in a nearby tree and put the baby woodpeckers in it.
The next morning the home owner called to say that no adult birds had come to care for the nestlings. Our volunteers returned to the site to evaluate the situation and possibly take the birds into care, but arrived to find three adult birds around the nest box. One was in the opening, feeding the babies; all you could see was its rear, bobbing up and down as it worked. It's great to find a way for the natural caregivers to continue raising their young. They're much better at it than we are!
And another Western Screech Owl
This bedraggled owl had been caught by a cat, carried in through the cat door, and released into a house in Moccasin in July. All its tail feathers had been torn out in a previous attack, and the new tail was less than an inch long. He was also suffering from head trauma, probably from hitting a window or car. Initially, he was medicated and tubed fluids and food, but soon he was self-feeding.
Since we knew of two predator attacks and an impact before he came into care, we wanted his tail feathers fully grown and him in top shape before release. While we waited for temperatures to drop below 100, he hunted live mice each night, showing his readiness to go. We don't like to release an animal into an environment stressed by heat. The home-owner took the Screech Owl back after three weeks, to release him.
In the span of a month, we were overjoyed to have three hawk releases. Healthy birds were set free near where they'd been found, in all cases recovered from injuries due to having been hit by cars. Let's all do our best to pay close attention when driving, both to the road and what's happening at the sides of our cars, increasing our chances of avoiding a collision with a bird.
One Red-Shouldered Hawk was hit on Tuolumne Rd. near the Junction. After three weeks in care, he was released at a church near that spot, and fortunately the man who had found him and got him into care was able to attend the release and see the happy end to the story. He was impressed so many volunteers also cared, and came to see the bird fly free.
Another Red-Shouldered Hawk was not as fortunate and passed away from its injuries. His feathers, however, were able to benefit a third Redshoulder, one that had been hit by a car near Highway 49 and Rawhide Rd. His injuries required close confinement which resulted in feather damage to his injured wing, and which required imping to repair.
Feathers from the deceased bird were used to repair the feathers of the living one, and it worked perfectly. For a discussion of that process, see the Hawks at Home story in Wild Tails - MLWC Winter NewsletterOne of our volunteers had seen this hawk by the side of the road, thought it was dead, but stopped anyway and found it alive. It was only fitting she get to release the hawk, and she said, "What an extraordinary feeling, holding a bird of that weight and then watching him take off."
The next hawk to be released, a Red-Tail, was hit by a car on Tuolumne Rd. by Westside, in Tuolumne. It was a juvenile, three or four months old, and therefore there was no red tail yet. A woman driving behind the car that hit the hawk stopped, retrieved it, and got it to us. It had no broken bones but was bruised and in shock. After three weeks in care, it was released at Westside, away from the road, with not only volunteers and the woman who found it present, but also a reporter from the Union Democrat. The next day there was a front page story, with photos.
We appreciate the coverage, as it is important for people to know about this work and whom to call if they find an injured bird, squirrel, bat or reptile.
The Redtail is the larger of the two hawks, and is a much more active hunter. It soars or hovers over prey-rich land, searching for food, pursues small birds in the air, and only still-hunts occasionally. To still-hunt is to perch and wait for prey to come along below. It may even catch grasshoppers by means of a foot chase.
The Redshoulder, in contrast, mainly practices still-hunting, and may sit waiting in one spot for a very long period. It also doesn't mind going for a stroll on the ground after a rain to eat the earthworms that have appeared.
We continue to have one Red-shouldered Hawk in care, for over a year now, waiting on feathers damaged in the original car collision that could not be imped. He keeps growing and dropping the necessary flight feathers but we hope to have good news about his release in the next newsletter.
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 days are getting shorter and the phones are quieter. We've cared for more than 200 animals so far this year. Some of our cages are clean and empty, awaiting new arrivals, others still provide temporary homes for the animals in care, preparing for release. Caging is our largest expense. With good cages, we can provide the best possible care for the animals in need, and they last! Having different types and sizes allows us to do the high variety of species that we intake, 50 different species last year! Each species can have different requirements in food, cage size and set-up. The Woodpecker Family has been a continual concern. We cared for 17 last year and 14 so far this year. Every one means risking damage to our wood framed cages. Thanks to High Gravity Brewers, Chicken Ranch Bingo, and Mick Grimes with the Ed Minium grant, we’ve raised $1000 of the necessary $1200 required to build a new all metal woodpecker cage. We hope to start welding panels soon. It's wonderful to have volunteers with skills which allow us to build caging for the cost of the materials. I'm already looking forward to the possibility of an all metal squirrel cage, once the woodpecker cage is built. - Laura Murphy
Jeanne Bodifordrescued a hummingbird in the '70s, and that awakened her love of caring for ill or injured birds. Her mother had moved to this area, also in the '70s, and rescued wildlife, and Jeanne helped her when she visited from southern California and Washington, D.C. Jeanne has loved wildlife all her life and found hands-on care very fulfilling. In the '60s and '70s she hiked and camped all over the country and Canada, watching birds and animals, which was entertaining and deepened her connection with them.
She moved to this area in 1993, and within a few years was asked to be the education chair for Central Sierra Audubon. In that capacity she gave numerous presentations to schools and other groups in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Songbirds were her focus, as they still are. Jeanne was a founding member of MLWC, having been a volunteer with RoseWolf Wildlife since 2010. Her bird infirmary is in her guest bathroom, and in 2014 an aviary arose in her backyard. At about that time she began taking MLWC's phone calls on Sundays. Her only regret is that she didn't start volunteer work with wildlife earlier. She's grateful she's had her experiences of interacting with wildlife, especially in decades past, when there was more wildlife and fewer people.
Her husband Larry has been very supportive, transporting birds, building and maintaining the cage, providing phone back-up, and being the resident photographer.
What's it like to be a new volunteer?
Contrary to, possibly, some people's ideas, a new volunteer with MLWC does not operate on birds' wings, nor does he or she do nothing but clean cages. There's some animal care, well short of surgery, and perhaps some cage cleaning, well short of endless. Let's hear from new volunteers themselves:
Karen, of Jamestown has been a volunteer for a couple months. She fostered two baby Western Scrub Jays until they were self-feeding. They were released on Labor Day after two weeks in an aviary. She thought it would be harder than it was, and feels it went so smoothly because they were healthy birds who always ate, drank water, and pooped when required. The volunteers have been welcoming and supportive, and this work provides a way to give back to animals.
"I just love the squirrels," says Carol, of Sonora. She's always fed the ones around her home, and, after starting with MLWC in the spring, she cared for three baby squirrels who were released in mid-summer. A baby female squirrel stays with her now. It came to her at two weeks of age and required round the clock feedings. Carol is so glad she's been doing this, and has had a lot of fun with it. She's also learned a lot, including what babies look like, squirrels' nesting habits, and how long it takes them to grow up enough to leave the nest. She shared, "Knowing you're taking care of the animals so they can go out and live a normal life feels so wonderful."
Sierra, from Sonora, began with us about three months ago. She is a transporter-in-training, who is called when we learn of an animal in need, goes to the location, evaluates the situation, and brings the animal into care if appropriate. After an exam. she may transport the animal to another volunteer for care. Sierra has seen animals in care at volunteers' homes and helps care for animals at the Director's facility. She loves learning, being involved with animals in an intimate way, and feels privileged to be a part of something so meaningful.
Our volunteers also transport animals to or from other facilities. This eagle was transferred to an expert for evaluation, and we send animals to Davis for possible surgeries. Sometimes we go to other wildlife centers for matches for animals in our care. They always do better with a buddy.
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. Sierra De Leon, Alison Daniels, Helen Engledow, Sharon South and Laura Murphy provided photos.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
- Rachel Carson
Photo by Martin Driver
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.