We've got robins, squirrels, hawks, and more.  Read on!
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Winter 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the latest issue of the MLWC 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.
View from the Chair of the Board
         Hi friends!  It has been a busy and eventful year, as you can see from the bird I am holding - the first bald eagle we have taken in as MLWC.  We transfer eagles to experts in Roseville for long-term care, but it was amazing to have him with us, however briefly.
          Yet again I will talk about fundraising. Unfortunately we have no wealthy donors so we have to keep finding new ways to further engage the interest of our many supporters. Our latest approach is an on-line store where you can buy T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, and coffee mugs printed with pictures of wildlife we have rescued, along with cute/funny captions.  
You can see the first two offerings at the tail of this newsletter.
         Like you, we are sensitive to how much the non-profit makes from this kind of deal.  The company we work with is responsible for all costs in inventory, printing, taking payment and shipping.  You get a high-quality item and we get a small royalty.  It's like buying clothing from a store, where the store donates a part of the purchase to us.  It's all positive for us and for you too.  Please tell your friends. 
            Our wildlife thanks you!             Bernard Murphy
Rockin' Robins
We don't have to wait until spring for American Robins.  Some migrate south for the winter; others move down here from the high country.  Large flocks of Robins, sometimes in the thousands, turn Toyon bushes into a hive of merry activity.   Spring and summer finds them from the foothills to the Alpine zone.  Robins are one of the few thrush species that forage in the open.  They enjoy the proverbial worm and large insects, and in the fall and winter dine on 
various berries.  This can lead to tipsiness when they consume fermented berries, and they will stagger if walking, or fly erratically.
In spring, Robins are among the earliest nesters and may have two or three broods in a season, all in different successive nests.  The nests are made of twigs and plant material, held together with mud, and lined with feathers and grass.  The young beseech their parents for food, seemingly nonstop, for up to a month. The male plays a large part in feeding, up to three weeks after they leave the nest.  In house, Robins are calm and easy to care for. The babies grow rapidly, learn a lot on their own and from each other, and love to take baths.  In time, they go to a large aviary, where they build flight muscle, gain stamina, and learn to forage.  Soon they are Flying Free!   
The Fantastic Four
Four young Western Gray Squirrels currently live in an eight foot cube cage, furnished with large tree limbs and four nest boxes.   All came to us as babies in September.  One was found in a nest in downtown Sonora on the 4th by tree trimmers removing mistletoe from a tree.  The mother who created his beautiful nest, with colored threads woven throughout, was nowhere to be found before the tree trimmers had to leave. This squirrel became known as “the big guy.”
Mid-month, tree trimmers in Tuolumne found a nest with two baby brothers, just in time to save them from the chipper. The mother returned and our volunteer took the babies back, hoping to reunite them.  The mother sat next to them, even looked right at them, but seemed so confused by the loss of her tree that she did not take her babies back.  We call them, unimaginatively, "the brothers."  The big guy was happy to snuggle with the brothers when they arrived.  Lastly, "the kid"  was found on the 30th, crawling across Hillcrest Dr. in downtown Sonora with his eyes still closed! At least two weeks younger than the big guy, the kid had to open his eyes before joining the others in a cage.  Before that could happen, however, we had to separate the others.  They  missed their mothers' nurturing and were nursing on each other instead.
It would have been ideal for them all to be caged together, to develop their social skills and bond with each other instead of their caretakers.  We tried recombining the squirrels once they were past the sucking stage.  The big guy scared the kid but the kid got along with a brother, and finally, in late November, all got on well enough to go into the large outdoor cage.  Two still prefer their separate nest boxes, but two nest together, and all seem to enjoy their greatly increased room and tree limbs.  When things are dry enough and the temperature relatively warm enough, they can be released into full freedom.
Hawks at Home  (temporarily)
The 30’ flight cage is currently home to two beautiful Red-Shouldered Hawks.  They were brought into care by strangely similar circumstances and injuries.  Each was hit by a car and had a broken right leg and damaged primary feathers on the right wing.
The juvenile hawk came to us July 1 and had been found near Coulterville.  The adult came in August 10 and had been found off Highway 49 on Mt. Brow Rd. north of Sonora.  Each one started in a hospital cage, with a leg splint, and then moved to a larger space in the raptor hospital a week after removal of the splint.  After four weeks in care, each moved to the flight cage.  The legs were healed, but the feather damage will take more time to be remedied.  In addition to the wing damage, the adult hawk came in with only three tail feathers, all broken; the rest had been pulled out.  Four months later, she's still having trouble regrowing the tail.
Occasionally we pull damaged tail feathers on birds, but we don’t like to pull them on larger birds.  Their primary feathers are embedded in their bones, so removal is painful and can cause follicle damage.  Falconry has developed a technique called imping.  If there is at least ¾” of feather shaft left, one can cut the shaft of the replacement feather at the same place and, using glue, insert a section of toothpick into both hollow shafts and have a “new” feather.  The replacement feather comes from a carcass of the same type of bird.
The juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk has two feathers we may be able to imp.  We must wait for the hawk to molt the feathers broken off too close to the bone for imping.  He'll need to be taught to live hunt, but that requires warmer weather.  In the meantime, he and the adult  are getting along fine in the 30’ cage.  We can’t make plans for the adult’s wing until its tail is okay; it’s still in bad shape now.  The condition of the juvenile’s tail is excellent; those two wing feathers will probably be imped when the time is right.  Until then, we’re glad to have them both as our guests. 
Alison Daniels has worked in wildlife care off and on for about twelve years and is a founding member of MLWC.  She helps with birds, and last year she had some Douglas squirrels as well.  The squirrels came to her when they were very tiny.  She fed them formula every four hours until they were weaned and went to a pre-release cage.  Alison has a pre-release aviary at her home, where she cared for two groups of ducklings, all successfully released.  Blackbirds, finches, sparrows, pigeons and doves have also been guests in her aviary.
She's one of the few volunteers who is comfortable feeding birds by tube.  She helped our songbird team leader with the care of two Pileated Woodpeckers.  See the full story in the December issue (12) of the Central Sierra Audubon Society Squawker.  Alison takes incoming phone calls for MLWC two days a week, and has a busy real estate career.  Wildlife care is a long-term commitment for her.  When she retires, she would like to have additional large cages at her nine acre home.  She enjoys her son, Sean Jr.'s, love of wildlife, and he looks forward to her continued animal caregiving.  We are grateful for all she has done and wish her well in all ways.
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.   Janelle Betzenderfer, Larry Bodiford, and Laura Murphy provided photos.  Alison provided the photo of herself with her son.  The sunset image was found on the internet.  
We are on the waiting list to have a booth April 9th and 10th, 2016 at the Home and Garden Show at the Sonora Fairgrounds.  We hope to see you there!
Two years ago, MLWC started with eight people sitting around a table. We now have 30 volunteers!  This year we built a 30' cage, refurbished the old 20' cage, enlarged a songbird cage, and started this newsletter!  We've cared for 226 animals this year with a 72% release rate.  The highlights: two Eagles, two Pileated Wood-peckers, 13 Acorn Wood-peckers, 16 Gray Squirrels and 13 Screech Owls.
Wish List  
Reliable Volunteers
Kleenex, paper towels
Old T-shirts, sheets, towels
Rubbermaid shelf liner
Gift cards - Lowe's
Our first shop offering is a juvenile Turkey Vulture, found in the road, not flying. He was skinny but in good shape otherwise.  Fed a lot of good food, including roadkill (hence the question on the t-shirt), and given time in a flight cage, he was released with two others. See the whole story in our Autumn Newsletter.
What is life?  It is a flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the Sunset.   - Crowfoot
Our second shop offering is a little Western Screech Owl, who was found below his nest with some kind of chemical burns on his feet.  Multiple soakings, ointments and foot wraps were required but not well tolerated.  He lost one toe but was still able to perch and hunt, and so he was eventually released.
Currently in Care
4 Western Gray Squirrels
2 Red-shouldered Hawks

1 Western Screech Owl
1 Domestic Pigeon

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