May 21, 2011

Stinky business...

Harbor City - another adult striped skunk was released after being trapped inadvertently. The homeowner was trying to trap a raccoon that lives under his home. We advised him of trapping regulations and will continue working with him to install a one-way door when the time is right.

As for the skunk... one of our new rescue team members, Diane, accepted the assignment and did a stellar job! Way to go Diane!

The most difficult part about these situations is getting the trap doors to open and stay open.

The skunk was freed on site. Relocation of trapped wildlife is prohibited for very sound and humane reasons.

We're always in need of volunteers to respond to emergencies like this one - we also need on-call transporters. The need in the greater Los Angeles area is quite dire. If you'd like to apply for a volunteer role, please fill out an APPLICATION and send it in along with a signed WAIVER.

May 20, 2011

Super heroic deed!

Another set of young barns owls were found grounded - this time, at Orange Memorial Park where they were picked up and delivered to Peninsula Humane Society (PHS).

Patrick Hogan, wildlife rehabilitator at PHS, knows wild babies stand a better chance of surviving as adults if they're raised by wild parents. He was determined to see these babies re-nested, even if the odds were stacked against him.

Patrick volunteers as a field responder with WildRescue on his off-hours. For this mission he had to first locate the nest. Since owls stay quiet and tucked away in their roosts during the day, this meant he had to go out after dark... and he did. Late into the evening Patrick found the nest by honing in on the begging calls of the remaining sibling... 25' up in a Canary Island Date Palm!

Reaching the nest entrance was going to take more than just a ladder, and it being on municipal property meant having to go through 'the system' for approval to ascend the tree.

Thankfully, the City of South San Francisco Parks and Rec embraced our efforts - so much so they provided a crew and cherry-picker to lift Patrick into the palm! Awesome! 

Successful Wild-Fostering of owlet

We recently received a call from Peninsula Humane Society - they'd gotten a couple of nestling barn owls from San Gregorio. A raven had plucked one of the fuzzy babies from its nest. A sibling also tumbled out.

The one pictured here (left) was badly injured and did not make it, but the one below, did!

Their home was in this tree - in a fairly open crook, which left them vulnerable to predation bay ravens during the day and raccoon, bobcat, and fox by night.
The plan was to build and install an 'owl box' and re-nest this baby along with any of its siblings that might still be alive. 

Short on tree-climbers, days passed before we were able to put up the owl box. In that time, however, PHS received another owlet that had fallen from a poorly built box in Half Moon Bay which they paired up with the San Gregorio owlet - they were doing well together.
Because the HMB owl boxes were not safe and had yet to be retrofitted or replaced, the decision was made to attempt a wild-fostering. Since this nest had lost one baby, we were not adding any new mouthes to feed. 

On May 18th, one week later, Duane Titus installed a nest box on the 'home' tree. He looked for surviving owlets, and found none.

Later that evening, our volunteer, Patrick Hogan, drove the owlets from PHS (where he works as a wildlife rehabilitator by day), to their new home. After placing the babies in the box, Patrick sat in his car across the way and watched for the adults.

He waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, after it was very dark outside, the babies started calling... and then the adults could be heard making their clacking calls as they circled the tree. It wasn't long before he saw one of the adults enter the box. Success!

The land owners and caretakers were instrumental in making this re-nesting possible. We'd also like to thank Peninsula Humane Society for going out of their way to see that these wild babies remained wild and free.

Baby crow and kid gang:

We were recently called upon by Alameda Animal Shelter to assist with a healthy baby crow that had been brought in by a finder, thinking they were doing the right thing. It was a fledgling - able to hop and perch but unable to fly. 

Whenever possible, we try to keep wild birds with their wild parents. It's their best chance for surviving as adults. From their wild parents they learn what to eat, where to forage, where to hide, what to fear... crows learn family etiquette and their society's local language and customs. Seriously!

Our volunteer, Max, was up for the task of reuniting the baby. Here is  her account:
Reuniting a fledgling crow with his parents in the midst of a busy apartment complex was destined to be a public event. The kids especially, playing outside after school, were fascinated, pausing their game of chase to gather around me and whisper a story about a kitten they had rescued and tried to nurse back to health. 
They took the reunion of baby and parents very seriously, shushing other playing kids, and telling them to stay still so as not to frighten the crows. It was a beautiful moment in time: human children meeting bird child with awe and respect, when a second before they had been unaware, screaming as they ran past. As I left, the tiny gang ran up with plastic swords. "We'll watch out for him!" they assured me about the baby crow. "We'll protect him from torturers!"
Thank you Max - Job well done!

May 17, 2011

Rescue 90210

Last week we received a call from a gentleman in Beverly Hills who found a mother duck and ducklings enjoying his swimming pool. I was prepared to get an earful of griping about the ducks, but instead heard how he'd already built a ramp for the babies and kindly provided fresh water and food. He was concerned though -the ducklings were essentially 'stuck' in his backyard.

Relocating wildlife is prohibited - and for sound reasons. So, in these situations we are supposed to tell people to herd the family out of the yard and block them from re-entering. However, if this poses immediate danger to the ducklings or people (traffic accidents), a special permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service allows us to relocate them close by. 

So it was, Sunday morning, a team of our finest set out to rescue the duck family. Their fist task was to capture the mom. 

Catching a flighted duck is extremely difficult. Mallards have powerful wings and can fly straight up into the air. The team had to come up with a plan based on the unique situation and the hen's demeanor.

Some hens will fall for our trap... but, not this one...

The team, led by Jenni Campbell, had to come up with another strategy, and then another. Their patience and determination paid off. The mother duck was gently pressured into a closed-in area where she was netted. NOT YOUR TYPICAL MALLARD!

Placing the hen into a carrier.

The next task was to gather the 8 babies...

The ducklings were placed into a cardboard box to keep them safe and warm while in transit to their new home. They are housed separate from their mom because of the chance she might accidentally injure them during transport.

The family was immediately transported to a nearby section of the Los Angeles river system that provided ample water and plenty of foliage to hide in.

The team followed proper protocol, letting the babies out first as mom watched, then opening her cage for her to reunite with her brood.

The hen heads straight for her babies.

Here, the babies are checking out their new home while mom keeps watch (on the  Right).

Heading back to their vehicles, Jenni debriefs with Carole and Kelly, going over the rescue mission. A job well done!

Yay, LA Team!

If you're interested in being part of our Los Angeles team or volunteer rescuers, 
or if you would like to help fund this program, please email Rebecca.

May 9, 2011

Surfers Rescue Entangled Pelican - Santa Cruz

Sadly, it wasn't until 3:45 that we were first notified of a pelican, entangled in fishing line, struggling in the water off the coast of Santa Cruz - about 50 yards offshore near Natural Bridges. Apparently it had been there for hours, trying to fly, only to be pulled back into the choppy sea. 

Had it been a human stuck to the ocean floor, i imagine there would have been a rescue boat or lifeguard on scene without delay... but no such luck for this mature, female brown pelican.

Thankfully, by 5:30, we were lucky enough to find two local surfers, Bill, and Geoff, who were willing to paddle out and retrieve the poor animal. Check out the video of their heroic efforts HERE

She was in bad shape. Weak and in shock from having struggled so long. We took just a few seconds to quickly cut three strands of line that bound her one wing to her left leg, relieving her from some pain. Birds in this bad of shape must not be handled any more than absolutely necessary - they are exhausted and need rest away from any threats, including humans. 

She was then transported to a nearby care center where, miraculously, she survived the night. We expect her to be transferred to International Bird Rescue for further rehabilitative care. 

She's not 'out of the woods' yet - her experience could still prove fatal. There's something called exertional, or capture, myopathy - it's over exertion or struggle, which can cause animals to die, even days later. There is no cure, only prevention. That's why animals must never be 'chased down', and rescuers must do everything possible to limit stress.

This rescue highlights the need for Santa Cruz to have its very own Wildlife Search and Rescue Team with a special water recovery unit for situations like this one. We'll be working with locals, the surfing community and kayak groups to recruit and train members for this exclusive team. Those interested in becoming involved should email us.

A HUGE thank you to Bill, Geoff, and Bonnie
for helping to save this magnificent bird.

UPDATE 5/13/11

We were notified that the pelican has made her journey to International Bird Rescue and arrived very feisty and in good shape. She is on antibiotics, pain meds and pool time to help with her swollen leg.  

May 7, 2011

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Three Nestling Robins Re-Nested

Three robin nestlings in their makeshift nest.

The return of three healthy robins to their wild parents was a collaborative effort between Peninsula Humane Society and WildRescue. It began yesterday morning - a very windy day in Brisbane. A concerned passerby noticed the young birds on the sidewalk beneath a large tree. Adult robins protested from the limbs above as the helpless babies were carefully gathered. 

Shortly thereafter, the chicks were admitted to PHS Wildlife Hospital. Once they'd been examined and deemed healthy, WildRescue received a call from Patrick Hogan, asking if we had anyone who could attempt a reunion.

Young wild birds stand the greatest chance of surviving as adults if they are raised by wild parents. From wild parents they learn where to forage, what to eat, they learn their song, social etiquette, they are shown what to fear, where to hide, and where to roost. These are all things essential to their survival... things they cannot receive in a rehabilitation setting. To do right by wild babies, every effort must be made to keep them in the wild. Thankfully, there is a growing trend to reunite, re-nest, and wild-foster healthy babies whenever possible.

While we assembled a response team, the babies remained in care
at the hospital, receiving regular feedings of a specialized diet.

One of our volunteers, Susan, was quick to respond to our call-out. Once on scene she made contact with the finder who directed her to the exact location the birds had been found. It wasn't long before Susan had scrounged up a tall-enough ladder and enlisted the help of her husband.

By 5:00 pm the nestlings were snuggled together in a large plastic bowl lined with pine needles and feathers plucked from a duster, secured to a limb of their Home tree. At 5:14, an adult robin was observed nearby. Minutes later, one of the parents was observed about 2 feet from the nest cup.

A HUGE Thank You to everyone 
involved in this re-nesting operation!