Nov 30, 2012

Peregrine Update




UPDATE 11-26-12

Today, experts at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley confirmed the falcon was shot. The projectile, likely a pellet, entered the chest and exited out the back. The bird is currently in stable condition and holding its wings tightly against its body - a good sign! The California Department of Fish and Game has been notified.


UPDATE 11-29-12

Unfortunately, radiographs revealed two fractures in the shoulder. The bird would never fly again and, if kept alive, it would be in pain for the rest of its life. It was euthanized earlier today.



The California Department of Fish and Game (Wildlife) is leading an investigation, hoping to find who shot the bird. Meanwhile, through generous pledges and donations, WildRescue is able to post a reward of $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting the falcon. They can report anonymously through CalTip at 1-888-334-2258. Pledges to increase the reward amount should be sent to rebecca@wildrescue.org. Donations can be made HERE.





Nov 29, 2012

Pelican in the Mountains


This morning we received a report of a brown pelican in the backyard of a home on Skyland Ridge, at about 2000' elevation. According to residents, the bird had been walking around their patio for a while - it may have been there all night. 

Duane and Rebecca responded. When they arrived, the bird was very down, suffering from hypothermia. It was placed on heat for the ride to the nearest wildlife hospital, Native Animal Rescue, in Santa Cruz.




There, it received intensive care, but that just wasn't enough. The pelican was too far gone - it was in too weakened a state - thin and exhausted.

Finding a bird so far from shore and so debilitated raises a few questions. We often see pelicans in odd locations when they are starving or when they are suffering from domoic acid poisoning. We'd had some severe weather, but was that enough to blow it off course? 


Many thanks to the reporting party and, as always, to Native Animal Rescue for being there to receive another critical patient.



Nov 23, 2012

American Peregrine


It was around 8 o'clock in the evening on Thanksgiving Day, when residents of a rural home in Watsonville heard rustling in a planter box outside. After all of their pets were accounted for, the young men of the family went to investigate and found a small raptor, unable to fly. Instinctively, they got a large towel, covered the bird completely, and carefully placed it into a cardboard cat carrier.

At about 8:00 AM this morning, WildRescue received an emergency page about the injured bird. A photo confirmed it to be an American peregrine falcon.

The peregrine falcon is a crow-sized predatory raptor found on nearly every continent. It is the fastest bird on the planet, attaining speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour in a stoop dive (video of these magnificent flyers, here).




The young male falcon was transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose. There it would receive a radiograph to determine the extent of its injuries and if it was, indeed, shot.

Upon admission the wound was cleaned, the bird was given pain medication and a dose of antibiotics. Check out the video(below) of its initial exam.

Should X-rays confirm the bird was shot, authorities will be contacted.






In the 1960's, peregrine falcon populations in the U.S. were in rapid decline due to the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). Peregrines were all but eliminated from the eastern U.S. and in the West, populations were reduced by 80 to 90 percent.

First synthesized in 1874, DDT was once considered a safe and effective insecticide, and was in wide use - worldwide - in the 40s and 50s. Although it was banned in 1972, residual amounts of DDT can be found in the environment.

Like all organochlorines, DDT is highly persistant, bioaccumulating and increasing in concentration as it moves up the food Chain. Apex predator species, like the brown pelican, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon, receive the most concentrated doses.

In birds of prey, waterfowl, and songbirds, DDT causes eggshell thinning, resulting in reproductive failure. This is what caused the rapid decline in the peregrines population in the 60's. In 1970, the peregrine falcon was the first to be listed on the federal Endangered Species List.

Thanks to collaborative recovery efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, Tom Cade and the Peregrine Fund, Midwestern Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project, and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research, the American peregrine falcon population rebounded (read more about these efforts, HERE). In 1999, it was federally delisted, though remains an Endangered Species in certain states.



UPDATE 11-26-12

Today, experts at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley confirmed the falcon was shot. The projectile, likely a pellet, entered the chest and exited out the back. The bird is currently in stable condition and holding its wings tightly against its body - a good sign! The California Department of Fish and Game has been notified.
UPDATE 11-29-12

Unfortunately, radiographs revealed two fractures in the shoulder. The bird would never fly again and, if kept alive it would be in pain for the rest of its life. It was euthanized earlier today.



The California Department of Fish and Game (Wildlife) is continuing an investigation, hoping to find who shot the bird. Meanwhile, through generous pledges and donations, WildRescue is able to post a reward of $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting the falcon. They can report anonymously through CalTip at 1-888-334-2258. Pledges to increase the reward amount should be sent to rebecca@wildrescue.org.







Nov 18, 2012

Reunite Wildlife!

Barn owls returned to their palm tree nest.
Young wild animals stand the best chance of living normal lives and surviving as adults if they are raised by wild parents, as opposed to being raised by rehabilitators in a captive environment.
From wild parents, young learn what to eat, where to forage, how to hunt, what to fear, where to shelter. They learn valuable social skills, in some cases their own dialect, and they are allowed time to disperse naturally into their home territory.
No human, no rehabilitation program - not even the best in the world, will ever be a fitting substitute.  ~ Rebecca Dmytryk

Anne Miller presenting on reuniting young raptors.
This week, WildRescue's Rebecca Dmytryk presented at the California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators' symposium, held at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite. She was accompanied by Anne Miller, founder of Reunite Wildlife, for a two-hour presentation focused on the benefits of reuniting.


The program, attended by 75 participants including representatives from the California Department of Fish and Game, was aimed at empowering rehabilitators to practice reuniting.

Every 'baby season' wildlife hospitals are inundated with 'orphans' - many of which are healthy and should never have been picked up. Some need to be returned to where they were found, others might need a lift back into their original nests, others might need to have their nests totally retrofitted.





A replacement nest made from a laundry basket.
Either way, reuniting baby animals takes time and is best carried out by a dedicated team of resourceful volunteers - something many wildlife hospitals say they can't spare. Each year, then, a significant number of healthy babies are raised in captivity, a paradigm Dmytryk and other advocates of reuniting hope to see change in coming years.


Dmytryk's years of hands-on experience has earned her recognition as a leading authority on reuniting wildlife. She has joined up with other leaders in the field to develop guidelines to encourage more and more rehabilitators to adopt the practice.
If we know being raised by wild parents is what's best, then reuniting has got to be part of every rehabilitation program. It mustn't be viewed as an option, but an obligation.
Next March, the group plans to speak at the National Association for Wildlife Rehabilitators.



Also at the conference, Dmytryk was acknowledged 
with a certificate in recognition of her 31 years of service in the field of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.








Nov 14, 2012

Another Day At The Beach

By Deanna Barth

With rain in the forecast for Friday, I decided to do my rounds today, instead. This time I started at the Monterey Coast Guard Pier. As I searched the area, I picked up several pieces of loose fishing line but saw no pelicans.

Next, I drove toward the Municipal Wharf and was pleased to see 30+ pelicans diving for fish, just a few yards off Del Monte Beach. I stood on the beach, mesmorized by the powerful splashing as they each dove into the water. They all appeared to be healthy.

I walked along the pier and around the wharf and didn't see a single pelican.

My next stop was Fisherman’s Wharf, where I'd been finding most of the injured pelicans lately.

As expected, there were a number of young pelicans gathered near the fish cleaning stations, 
resting on the railings and on the docks. I was really pleased, every one of them looked fantastic. No bite wounds or hooks or line entanglements.


I put my bag back over my shoulder, preparing to leave, when I heard the whooshing of a pelican landing behind me.

I turned to look… and cringed. There on the railing was a pelican, balancing on its left leg and having difficulty remaining upright. Fishing line draping over its back and a silver weight dangling behind him, glistening in the sun.









I quickly put my bag down, pulled out my fish, and approached slowly. Thankfully this bird was eager for a meal and lunged for my hand. It was easy to grab.

I transported him to the SPCA wildlife center where staff noted at least 4 hooks and line entangling this poor bird.


I left, knowing he was in excellent hands.  (Thanks Evan!)







On my way home, I decided to take a detour. Earlier in the week I had seen a pelican at Moss Landing that concerned me. It showed classic signs of domoic acid toxicity. It was sitting awkwardly, weaving its head back and forth, and appeared confused, but when it saw me approaching it became frantic and flew to the water. I tried baiting it, but no luck - it showed no interest in food.

When I arrived, I was shocked at the number of pelicans on the breakwater! It was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack, I thought. 


Starting at the very end of the jetty, I began scanning each bird, looking for unusual behavior. I didn’t have to look long before spotting a very obvious bird in trouble. It was an adult pelican, like the one I'd seen days before, and it was hunkered down in the sand facing away from the water. It looked wet and appeared very weak.



Based on the bird's behavior and body posture, I decided less would be more. No need for bait or even a net.

The poor bird only opened its eyes every so often to see if I was still around. I waited, and when its eyes closed I walked away to position myself directly behind it and hopefully out of its line of sight. Then I waited. 

The pelican opened its eyes again, turned its head slowly, and when it seemed sure that I was gone it settled again.

I began to close in on the bird. When I was just about on top of it, it saw me and made a feeble attempt to snap at my arms. As I scooped it up, it barely had any strength to resist. It was wet, cold, and covered in lice. 

Back at the vehicle I placed the pelican in a crate, placed warming packs around its cold body and draped a sheet over it to help bring up its temperature. Usually, with adult wild animals, we need to keep our transport vehicles cool, but for this one, I had to have the heater on for the 25-mile journey back to the wildlife center. 

I called the wildlife center the following morning to see if it survived the night. It had, but its temperature was still below normal.

CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!

Nov 13, 2012

Entombed

by Rebecca Dmytryk


It was about 7:30 PM when we heard some intermittent rustling noises coming from inside the wall next to our patio door. The cats were mesmerized, but Duane and I thought nothing of it - it was probably a rat or mouse - nothing alarming or unusual, as we live in an older house in the country.

The next morning, however, we could still hear sounds emanating from the wall, but now the noises were more frequent and repetitive. After listening closely to the pattern, we decided it sounded like a small animal jumping up and landing, again and again. The animal must be stuck.

We brought out the borescope for a closer inspection, and sure enough, we saw hair and whiskers - a little mouse was trapped in the wall... and it was not the first to be entombed. The scope also revealed twisted skeletal remains of other rodents to fall into this pocket.

To the rescue! Duane cut a hole in the wall. I donned gloves and started fishing around in the pocket.

At first, I didn't feel anything warm and furry and alive. The mouse had burrowed under the dry carcasses to hide. I pulled out about a dozen mummified corpse before reaching the animal. Once in the palm of my hand, I raised the mouse to safety. It was a female deer mouse.



The mouse looked in good shape, even though it had been trapped in the wall for a good 12 hours - and, that night the temperature outside dropped into the thirties. 

We placed the little mouse into a container with a large towel for it to hide in. We also provider her a tiny platter of food - seeds, fruits and veggies - a banquet.

We released her just outside that evening.

Mummified remains of rodents found inside the wall.

I think our experience can be a lesson for everyone. When you hear sounds in a wall, pay special attention to the time of day and duration, and listen closely for any pattern that might indicate an animal is trapped.




Nov 7, 2012

Rehabilitator Receives Royal Recognition


Trevor Weeks, founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service was recently honored with a Medal of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his work, helping injured wildlife since the mid 1990s.
"I am glad I have proven so many people wrong about where I was going with my life and voluntary work,I might be poor but I am so much happier as a result."  





Congratulations, Trevor!!!!



Trevor should be celebrating, but it seems he's working harder than ever to raise emergency funds. After an exceptionally busy year, WRAS is in dire need of financial aid. Read Trevor's appeal letter, HERE. 

Please, please, consider supporting WRAS with a donation or gift from their Amazon Wish List



Nov 4, 2012

In Memoriam

One year ago today, we lost a great friend, and the world lost a leading expert on gibbons. Alan Mootnick dedicated his life to the great apes, founding the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, CA.

Help ensure his valuable conservation efforts continue by attending a festive fundraiser next Saturday at the Center.





Join 41 gibbons and friends for
Thanks-Gibbon
Saturday, November 17th 
9:30 AM to 1:00 PM

Details, HERE.

Like the GCC on Facebook, HERE.





Join us today in remembering Alan by listening to the sounds of his gibbons, HERE.




Nov 2, 2012

Threefer

By Deanna Barth

Finally, after weeks without my vehicle (major repairs), I was able to get back to doing my "rounds" after work. I decided to check out the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf to look for injured pelicans. It didn’t take long to spot one.

At one of the fish cleaning stations, I noticed one of several pelicans was sporting a bright yellow and orange feathered fishing lure.

I prepared for a successful capture, placing a bed sheet on the ground a few feet away. I then pulled out a fresh piece of fish I'd brought for baiting-in the birds.

I approached the pelican slowly, applying just enough pressure to encourage it to stand. At the same time, I held out the fillet, jiggling it a bit to entice the bird. It wasn't 30 seconds before it lunged for the fish.

In a series of moves, I grabbed the pelican's bill, guided the bird to the ground, folded its wings, covered its body and head with the bedsheet - all without letting go of its bill. I then lifted the bundle to my hip and headed for my vehicle.

On my way to the
 SPCA Wildlife Center, I was transferred a call from WildRescue's hotline regarding a weak pelican on Del Monte Beach. I dropped off the first pelican and headed out for the second.


The pelican was easy to spot. It was standing on the shoreline, dripping wet, head hanging down.

A lot of times, a bird in this condition will be too stressed to bait with food, but I took my bag of fillets with me just in case.

The young pelican kept his eyes on me as I approached. I was able to get fairly close. Kneeling down in front of the bird, I tossed some pieces of fish. To my surprise, the pelican showed interest, but as soon as I tried inching closer, perked up and walked away.


Since I wasn’t sure if it could fly or not, I backed off a bit, but kept beside it as it walked slowly down the beach. It stopped, I stopped. We strolled side by side for several yards.

Finally, I knelt down in front of it and tossed some fish again. He closed his eyes. I scooted on my knees, inch by inch, until it was within arm’s reach and then I quickly grabbed his bill. He was wet and cold and covered with pouch lice.

After dropping off the second pelican, I made my way back to the wharf again. There were a couple of pelicans I'd seen at the bait cleaning station that I wanted to get a better look at.

I returned to find a large group of pelicans, about 15 or so. They were anxiously watching as fishermen skinned and cleaned their catch.

Most of the pelicans were standing on the railings, watching the fishermen's hands intently. Others were walking under and around the stations waiting to grab scraps. They were all quite bold, reaching out to try and steal fish from the men’s hands.

I began herding the birds out from under the cleaning sink, which was now dripping with oily fish juice. In the process, I noticed a pelican with a pretty significant injury on its neck.

With his attention on what the fishermen were up to I was able to grab him quickly.


On my third and final trip to the wildlife hospital, the staff jokingly said “Nothing personal, but we don’t want to see you anymore today.”  It was time to head for home.

Even though I had pelican lice crawling on me, the long drive home to Hollister was pleasant. It gave me time to reflect on the rescues. After weeks of being unavailable for rescues, it felt good to be back at it, and to know that I made a difference in the lives of those three birds today. I felt really satisfied.

At home, I cleaned out my car thoroughly then headed inside. When walked in the door I was met with an audible gasp from my husband, "Ugh, what is that smell? Is that fish? Oh, my God... you stink... bad."

It was a good day indeed.