May 31, 2012

Baby Quail Rescued

Today, WildRescue was transferred an emergency call from San Jose Animal Control. A resident near Almaden Quicksilver County Park had witnessed 7 newly-hatched quail fall through a storm drain inlet the day before. Unfortunately, they had remained trapped overnight, and may have gotten cold.

Newly hatched gamebirds, wading birds, and dabbling ducks are especially vulnerable to hypothermia. Without warmth from their mothers or a supplemental source of heat, chicks will get cold. Once chilled they do not fare well.

Duane and Rebecca responded to the call. Enroute, they alerted the San Jose Department of Transportation and received permission to remove the grates and manhole covers as needed.

When they arrived, two adult quail, a male and female, were standing guard near the drain inlet. They flew off when the rescuers approached.

Duane pulled away the heavy metal grate where the babies had fallen. There, inside the relatively small but deep (especially for a baby quail) catch basin, were all 7 chicks. One was near dead, another appeared weak, but the rest looked good, despite being trapped overnight.

All of a sudden, warning clucks from an adult quail emanated from deep inside the drain! Their mother had evidently stayed with them, and this is probably why they survived the night.

Her warning call sent the chicks scattering. Rebecca was able to block the pipe, but not before a few escaped.

To 'push' the adult and the rest of the babies back up into the catch basin, Duane removed the manhole cover from the connecting drain and began clapping his hands. This drove out the adult, and with her, a few more chicks.

Two little ones remained. It took some patience, but finally all of the chicks were collected.

On a sad note, 2 of the 7 did not survive, but 5 were returned to their awaiting parents. Check out the video below.

May 30, 2012

Snake In Deer Netting

This afternoon, we received a call from a man in Boulder Creek. A gopher snake had gotten caught in deer netting (also called garden netting). He'd tried to cut it free, but the agitated snake kept striking at him.

Thankfully, we have two new recruits located in Ben Lomond, just minutes from Boulder Creek! After a briefing with Rebecca, Maureen H. and Jennifer W. responded. Here's video of the rescue:

May 29, 2012

WildRescue responds in Morro Bay

Last night, we were forwarded a call from WildCare (Marin) regarding an injured gull in Morro Bay. We quickly alerted Richard G., one of our responders who covers the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

It was near dark by the time he arrived on scene and there was no sign of the bird. It had likely sought shelter for the night.

Just after daybreak this morning, Richard headed back out to the location near Morro Rock, where he quickly found the mortally wounded gull. He then delivered it to the nearby wildlife hospital, Pacific Wildlife Care.

We are grateful to have Richard as one of our responders. He has a great deal of animal handling experience, he is certified for oil spill response, and has received FEMA ICS training.

Having skilled Wildlife Search and Rescue (SAR) responders on-call to assist with emergencies involving wildlife sets us apart from most wildlife rescue organizations. Our program fills a unique and critical niche in helping the public and the injured animals they have encountered.

If you're interested in becoming a trained responder, please fill out an application, HERE and a waiver, HERE. If you'd like to make a donation to support our ongoing efforts, click HERE.

May 27, 2012

Time and dedication

A huge THANK YOU! to one of our responders, Akira S. for devoting an entire day trying to help two gulls in the San Francisco area.

One of the gulls has both feet bound by fishing line. We have had little luck capturing him (see blog post HERE). The other gull has a hook in its bill. It was just recently reported to us by San Francisco Animal Control. They, too, have been trying to help capture it.

Here is Akira's account:

So, today, Sunday, Jan and I met up at the staging area shortly before 7 a.m.  After discussing the strategy, we drove to the roadside parking lot west of the Alameda Ferry, where the injured gull has been seen. 
There were few gulls when we started out at about 7:30. The number of gulls slowly increased, and by 9 a.m. there were perhaps > 50 hanging around and waiting for handouts. At the peak, the gulls probably numbered over 100~150 at this location. 
The gull in question showed up at around 10. In flight, the semi-dangling one leg served as a practical means of identification. When it landed, it would land and then immediately sit down flat on the ground (rather than standing), which is noticeable.  
At various points, this gull came as close as maybe 25-30 ft from the bait area, but remained always cautious and never got close enough to attempt a capture with net. The other gulls were also similarly cautious for the most part, all standing around the bait but at a short distance, watching the the bait and me (trying to be as still and acting uninterested). 
The exception, was when "feeding frenzy" condition was started by throwing chips in the air. But the injured gull did not join the "feeding frenzy" 
Complicating factors at this site included cars and bicycles driving in and through the area, disturbing the gulls, causing them to fly up, circle around, then land in different spots. Use of orange cones to temporarily close off some of them may be helpful. 
Another complication was "competition" from other feeders. Also the gulls seemed to recognize regular feeders (not surprisingly). 
The last we saw of the gull with injury was maybe around 11 am., when it picked up what Jan and myself later decided was a full donut tossed from a window of a parked truck. (Later we found an empty box of Krispy Kreme Donuts after the truck drove away.) Other gulls immediately gave chase but didn't succeed in making the gull drop it; the gull escaped toward the water.
We left the area after noon. 
I was at the Palace from about 3:30 to 5 p.m., but unable to locate the gull. Lots of gulls at the rotunda pond, along with a pair of swans with chicks in tow, but not the gull we are after.
Good luck to whoever tries it next time!!  
- Akira 
PS. A cop on horseback asked me if I was going fishing (jokingly), but most seemed to think I was catching butterflies; would have to be a huge one considering I was towing along a pet carrier stuffed into a cart!  

May 26, 2012

High winds send babies to the ground

Windy conditions are likely to blame for sending three red-tailed hawk nestlings to the ground Friday morning, near Boulder Ridge Golf Club in San JoseA homeowner found the young raptors in their backyard, with both parents circling above.

WildRescue's Deanna, Duane, and Rebecca responded. On arrival, the team found two of the chicks injured from their near 40' fall. The third one was in excellent shape and could be re-nested.

Rebecca and Deanna began constructing an artificial nest. They drilled holes in the base of a large laundry basket and placed layers of small branches and twigs inside. Shredded eucalyptus bark, leaves were used to line the nest.

Meanwhile, Duane took on the challenge of climbing the redwood, which was very intense - the branches were slick and angled downward. Finally, he made it to a safe place where he could secure the new basket to the tree.

As a rule, we try to place new nests as close to the original site as possible, but human safety takes precedence. We settled for a site on the opposite side of the tree, about 8 feet below the original site.

When replacing nests, we also take into account the species and their nesting preferences. Red-tailed hawks nest on ledges and in wide open canopies of trees - wide enough for their near 4' wingspan. After securing the nest-basket, Duane trimmed a few branches to make the new site more open and appealing.
Getting the large basket up the tree would be a challenge, but Duane devised a zip-line system that worked really well. So well, they used it to hoist up the baby!

It was almost sunset by the time the chick was in its new nest. They cleared out of the backyard, and while Duane and Rebecca watched for the return of the parents, Deanna drove the two injured chicks to the wildlife hospital.

Both adults could be seen, soaring far and high. To draw them in, Rebecca played their chicks' vocalizations she'd recorded earlier. After a while, one of the parents flew by the tree with something in its talons. Another time later, it actually landed in the tree, on the tattered remains of its old nest, but never seeming to notice the baby below.

It grew darker and the team needed to leave, even though they had not seen a parent reunite with the chick. They would return the following next day.

UPDATE: Today, Duane and Rebecca returned to find one of the parents in the new nest with the chick. This is GREAT news!!!

On a sad note, however, we learned that one of the other chicks was so badly injured it had to be euthanized, and the other chick is in critical condition.

WildRescue will be working closely with the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley to see if the chick recovers, or if there are two healthy chicks of the same age that we could foster into this dedicated hawk family.

Stay tuned!

May 24, 2012

Barn owls know no borders

Israeli and Jordanian farmers choose to use barn owls rather than poisons to control pests in their fields. Check out the video below:

May 23, 2012

Entangled gull in Berkeley

This morning, we received a call from a woman reporting a gull, tangled in fishing line and stuck to something underwater near the Berkeley Marina. With a hook through its upper bill and several weights on the line, it could barley raise its head above the water, and the tide was rising.

Johnnie K. from Berkeley Animal Control was quick to respond. With help from Berkeley Marina, Johnnie was able to approach the bird from a boat. He scooped up the waterlogged gull, entangled it from the line, and it was transported to International Bird Rescue in Cordelia. Way to go Berkeley Animal Control!!!

UPDATE: We checked in with the bird hospital on the 25th and we're told the bird is still alive. That's great news!

May 22, 2012

Bay Area Proud

Last Friday, Duane and Rebecca were joined by Garvin Thomas, of NBC's Bay Area Proud - a news segment about people doing good. We were honored to have been chosen for a piece. Here's the LINK.


May 21, 2012

Personal note from Rebecca:

I have been rescuing wildlife for over thirty years and it never gets easier to witness situations like this.
I was contacted about a severely injured gull in Alameda. Both its legs are entangled in fishing line and bound together, but it can fly. 
Flighted birds are some of the most difficult to rescue. 
It's not just that they can fly, but injured animals are typically more wary and reluctant to 'bait in'. If pursued by well-meaning people trying to help, animals become harder to approach and may even disperse from an area altogether if they are continuously harassed. 

These types of rescues require special training, skills, and experience. These types of rescues can take time - days, even weeks, to accomplish.
We were first notified of this gull one week ago. The call was transferred to us by another Bay Area rescue group. I quickly sent out requests to our network of volunteer responders with little luck in finding someone to help. 
I feel for the person who reported the gull. She has been trying desperately to find help for the bird - calling everywhere she can think of. Nearly every day she visits the location where the bird frequents, watches out for it. Helpless and frustrated, she watches this animal suffer, day in and day out, and no one coming to help. 
Reliant solely on volunteers, we find ourselves, once again, unable to respond as we'd like to and as we should be able to. 
This animal's needless suffering continues from a lack of local available resources. The solution is an on-call 24/7 wildlife paramedic. 
For the last few months, we have been focused on raising funds for a Bay Area Wildlife Ambulance.
We know we can make a difference with the Bay Area Wildlife Ambulance This animal is a perfect example of why it is so desperately needed.
We have a new way to give - through ChipIn. Click HERE, or the link below. Help us get this wildlife ambulance up and running, once and for all!

Here is an account by someone who watched a goose, tangled in line, go months without help. Finally, she called WildRescue and we were able to respond quickly. This further illustrates the need for a Bay Area Wildlife Ambulance.
By CynthiaApril 02, 2012 
I discovered two injured Mallard ducks and one Canada Goose.  In October 2011, I started to call a local animal rescue organization to seek help for these injured birds but ended up making calls to multiple animal and wildlife rescue organizations and got nothing but excuses as to why they cannot come out to rescue these birds. Instead, all the help they provided me was to refer me to another animal or wildlife rescue organization.
Finally on February 28, 2012, I was given the telephone number of WildRescue in Moss Landing. I made contact with Rebecca Dmytryk. One of their responders, Deanna, met with me on March 2nd at the lagoon and with patience she was able to capture the injured Canada goose. Deanna had to make a nearly 1 and ½ hour one-way drive to Sunnyvale to make this rescue. Unfortunately, after Deanna took the injured bird to a wildlife hospital, the bird had to be euthanized because of the seriousness of the long-term injury. If only I had been able to secure help back in October, this Canada goose, and perhaps the two Mallard ducks, would be alive today.
Nobody could say yes, we will come out and rescue these birds.  Only WildRescue who is far away told me yes they would absolutely come out to help. Here is a sampling of some of the advice that I got:
·      “Let nature take its course.”
·      Just throw a towel over the goose, put it in a box, take to a veterinarian in San Jose (they gave me an address).”
·      “We do not rescue ducks or geese.  We only rescue predator birds like owls or hawks.”
·      “If it bothers you to see the injured goose, then stop walking over there!  Just do not go to the lagoon anymore.”
·      “We do not know who can help you.  There are only two animal control officers.”
·      “We do not rescue – we just educate people.  Sorry, we cannot help you.  We do not have equipment to get the goose.”
·      “We only have volunteers and there isn’t anybody available.  Also we do not rescue injured ducks or geese.  Let nature takes its course or you will have to take it to a veterinarian yourself.”
·      “It is showing up on my screen that there is no body of water in that area that belongs to the city.  It is privately owned.  You will need to contact the owner.”
·      “Call the police department to rescue the ducks and goose.  They will come out when you call.”
·      “If the birds are limping, we do not rescue them.  It is probably a minor injury and they will heal on their own.”
Photo from Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.
Guess what?  It turned out that the Canada goose had fishing line wrapped tightly around her upper leg. Fishing line is transparent and you cannot see it wrapped around the goose’s leg. So this is not a minor injury after all. It caused much suffering for at least 5 months for this goose and eventually had to be euthanized. As I write, there are other ducks that are limping. Perhaps they too have fishing line wrapped around their legs. We should not assume that a limping bird has a minor injury. These creatures end up suffering and losing their lives because of humans trashing up the environment. 
Thank you Rebecca for caring, even if it is a bird, you believe we have a moral obligation to help an animal in distress. I wish I knew about your organization, WildRescue, back in October 2011. Also, thank you Deanna for driving the long distance to rescue the Canada goose. You were professional, patient, and showed compassion. 

May 19, 2012

Deer ordeal

This week we were transferred a call about a female black-tailed deer (a subspecies of mule deer) that had, evidently, jumped over a fence from a hilltop property and into an adjacent yard, downslope. There, she gave birth to two fawns.

Unfortunately, though, she and her young ones were trapped. Not only would she have a tough time clearing the fence, but even if she managed to, there was no way for her fawns to follow.

Her freedom was not the only concern, however. On either side of the small residential lot, dogs patrolled the fence line, barking and trying to dig through to get to the deer. 

Also, the hillside had been mowed recently, leaving little room for the animals to hide, and reducing their supply of nutrient rich grasses. The property owners also admitted to feeding the doe apples - a huge No No.

The doe and her fawns had to be freed.

Here is Rebecca's personal account of what transpired:

Going into this, Duane and I had no idea what a difficult time we would have, especially given the report we received from the organization that had initially responded. According to their account, both the RP (Reporting Party) and the land owners were very concerned for the welfare of the deer. It turns out, they were overly concerned.  
We began by looking at a map to help us figure out the direction the doe had come from and, therefore, would be most apt to leave. We also wanted to plot the safest course for her to get back 'home'. 
Even though we were in the middle of a residential subdivision, wildland was only blocks away - maybe 1000 yards, and deer were commonly seen roaming the neighborhood's quiet culdesacs. 
With a plan in mind, we contacted the RP to make sure they were alright with the idea of us opening up the fence and herding the deer family back onto their land. Their property was quite large, with lots of cover, plus the deer could leave when they wanted to. 
Next, we made contact with resident where the deer was entrapped. It was late afternoon when we knocked on their door. We gently introduced the idea of allowing the doe and her young to leave their yard - either through the front gates or allowing us to unbolt their chain link fence, temporarily. 
After the door closed on us mid-sentence, we had no choice but to alert the authorities - the California Department of Fish and Game.
Deer are considered Big Game, and they are strictly managed by the Department, not just because they are hunted, but because they are extremely dangerous to deal with. To rescue or rehabilitate big game requires special authorization from the agency, so we were required to keep the region's Captain apprised of the situation. 
Additionally, the deer being entrapped and the land owners resistance to freeing them bordered on possession. It is illegal to possess a wild animal in the State of California without proper authorization from the Department.
In less than 15 minutes, one of the local wardens arrived on scene to take over. We were there to assist as needed, but it would be their call as to the final outcome. 
After speaking with the warden, the residents conceded to the idea of allowing the doe and her twins to leave through the back fence, but they would not allow Duane or me on their property. 
Duane and I accessed the fence line from above, through the RP's property. As we approached, the doe became nervous, understandably - we were in her 'safe zone'. Also, the land owners refused to go inside their home, which caused the deer more angst. 
Duane swiftly removed the bolts holding up the chain link, and spread it open. We backed away and alerted the warden that it was all clear. 
Ideally, Duane and I would have driven back down to the other property to control the amount of 'pressure' (predator presence) on the doe. They are skittish animals and panic easily. If threatened, prey animals will do anything to escape, even if it kills them. 
We believe we could have encouraged the doe to gather her young and leave quietly. It may have taken an hour, but it would have been best. Unfortunately, the resident would not hear of it. So, all of our hands were tied. 
Duane and I backed away from the fence, leaving the doe plenty of room to leave, unthreatened, while the warden applied a small amount of pressure. Finally, she bolted out the opening, leaving her fawns behind. 
The fawns were collected, one by one, and placed outside the fence. Unfortunately, there wasn't much we could do to oversee the reunion - the repair of the fence had to come first. Under the watchful eye of the 'lady of the house', Duane and I re-attached the chain link. 
By the time we were finished with the fence - leaving it in better condition than it had been, it was nearly dark. Although we didn't actually see the doe with her fawns, we felt confident she would find them. 
Today, we sent one of our experienced responders back to check on the situation. She did not find either fawn, but did locate the doe, peacefully bedded down in cool shade. 
For now, we believe the family is intact and doing well. We will check back on Monday.  
A huge THANK YOU! to the Department of Fish and Game for their timely response to this situation and for their ongoing efforts to protect and preserve our State's wildlife!

Ducklings down the drain

Earlier today, we received a call from Santa Cruz Animal Control Officer, Carlos, requesting assistance in getting a batch of ducklings from a storm drain. He'd managed to retrieve three of the babies with help from City of Watsonville Fire Department, but seven more were still in the system.

Using one of the Fire ladders, Duane descended into the storm drain and
 found six ducklings traveling under the road, headed for another drain entrance.

The firemen lifted the heavy metal grate to gain access, then lowered a long handled hoop net to block the ducklings escape.

With the net held vertically in place, Duane crawled on hands and knees, 'pushing' the ducklings along until, finally, they were inside the sock of the net.

The downy chicks were carefully lifted out and placed into an awaiting pet carrier as the mother hen watched, nervously, from a distance. One more to go!

One of the ducklings had become separated from its siblings and was headed down another channel. Again, the next nearest manhole was opened and the large net lowered to the bottom. This time, though, the duckling backtracked right into Duane's hands.

Once all of the babies were safely inside the pet carrier, Mama Duck was led to a wooded, marshy area where she was reunited with her babies.

Thanks to everyone involved! It could not have gone any better!!! Bravo!

May 13, 2012


Donations to Naoto Matsumura

Finally, we have received confirmation that we have the correct bank account for Naoto Matsumura, the 52 year old farmer who stayed behind to tend to the animals after the Fukushima nuclear accident forced everyone else to leave.
In our January 2012 blog post about this brave and extraordinary man, we offered to collect donations to help him feed the hundreds of animals he cares for.

On May 8th, we wired $635.00 of your donations to Matsumura-san! Thank you, Katherine, Danielle, Silvia, Tresia, Ms. Hirayama, Marc, Sal, Marcela, Rodney, Maeve, Stephen, Rupa, David, Susan, Emilia, Andrew, and Marinell!

In researching contacts for Naoto Matsumura, we became acquainted with Nanci Caron, who has been coordinating a worldwide effort to raise awareness and support for Matsumura. 
This is her web site, HERE. To make a contribution to Naoto Matsumura, go HERE.

May 11, 2012

Midway: Message from the Gyre

Photo: Chris Jordan

Photographer and artist, Chris Jordan, and his production team explore the cycle of life and death on Midway Island, where tens of thousands of albatross chick carcasses litter the land, their open bellies exposing an environmental tragedy. 

Please, view the trailer of his incredible film, Midway: Message from the Gyre, still in production, HERE.

Donate to support the Midway Project, HERE.
Stay connected with Chris and the Midway Journey project on Facebook, HERE.

Please, watch Chris' powerful and revealing talk on TED, below.

May 9, 2012

Saw-whet saga continues

Near Memorial Park, Loma Mar, CA, where the owlet was discovered.

Last week we wrote about the little orphan saw-whet owl, found on a road in Loma Mar, CA. This week, efforts to reunite it with its wild family continued:

We reached out to the birding community, asking for help in locating the owlet's family and received a quick response from Jeff and Jessica, a couple from Half Moon Bay.

Monday evening, Jeff and Jessica set out to look for a nest or find an adult saw-whet in the area where the baby was found. Here is their account:

Jeff scanning for owls or signs of a nest.
We were able to find the location easily, and actually talked to one of the rangers who knew exactly where the bird was found. We searched the trees immediately surrounding that spot pretty thoroughly during the light and couldn't find any sign of owls - either roosting, pellets/whitewash, or cries from the nestlings. 
As it got dark, still no sign of owls. On and off we heard some noises that COULD have been nestlings, but nothing conclusive and more likely just standard forest noise as the night was coming and animals were either bedding down or waking up. 
However, after waiting for a few minutes of full darkness, we played some recorded Saw-whet cries. That brought cries in response from what sounded like pretty high above. Then a hoot sequence brought a long sequence of hoots in response - again from what sounded like pretty high up in the conifers. 
The second time we played the hoots, an owl flew down for a closer look. We were able to watch it for a while and then is gradually lost interest. We repeated the hoots again in a slightly different area and it again came in (this time swooping to within a couple feet of the iPod!) to investigate. 
I don't know enough about owl behavior to know if this means the owl we saw was protecting a nest... or looking for a new mate since the original nest failed... But there is definitely at least one adult Saw-whet in that spot.

With this new information, we consulted raptor reuniting specialist, Anne Miller, in Alabama. She felt we should place the owlet in a nest-basket and try calling in the adult. First, though, we needed to see how the baby owl would act in the basket - would it stay inside, or try to get out?

Dress rehearsal at the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Care Center: Patrick and his team created a wonderful nest-basket with a cover - almost like a cavity nest! Check out the video of the little owl in his new digs:

Now it was time for the real deal.

Tuesday evening, Duane and Rebecca rendezvoused with their newly indoctrinated wildlife responders, Jeff and Jessica, who had picked up the owlet, nest-basket and go-bag from the Wildlife Care Center.

The team started by looking for a suitable tree. Then, Duane got to work on hooking up the infrared camera while Jeff, Jessica and Rebecca attached branches and foliage to the basket.

Rebecca also attached a piece of plastic netting on the top of the basket. She was concerned that the active brancher might climb out, flutter to the forest floor and be lost.
Once everything was in place, the owlet was set inside the nest-basket. Duane and Rebecca monitored the scene from the rescue vehicle, while Jeff and Jessica, hidden in the brush below the owlet, played saw-whet vocalizations, hoping to attract its parent.

At near 10:00 pm, after a good hour of trying and not a single response from an adult saw-whet, the team called it a night and started packing up.

Rebecca untied the basket and was gently lowering it, when she realized the owlet was missing. Sure enough, the owlet had managed to escape under the cardboard top! Panic set in - the thought of trying to find a small brown and buff colored creature on the forest floor in the dark! It wasn't more than 30 seconds before he was found and 
returned to his basket where he was offered a meal - a thawed dead mouse.

With the owlet in care at the Wildlife Care Center, we're still hoping the owlet can be returned to his wild home. Perhaps someone in the Loma Mar area will allow us to build a small mew that can be used as a soft-release enclosure. Anyone interested should contact

Just to give some perspective, this map shows the region and the territory covered. 
While the process of reuniting wild babies can be labor intensive, it is in the animal's best interest.

THANK YOU!!!! to everyone who helped in these efforts to reunite the little owl!

May 8, 2012

Barn owl caught on line

This morning, we were called out on an emergency involving a barn owl caught on some sort of line - either kite string or fishing line. It was tangled by its leg and snagged on branches of a cottonwood tree, some 30' high. Duane, Rebecca and Ron Eby responded.

The situation was dire. The animal was exposed to full sun, and the temperature was rising. In its panicked state, the animal could easily overheat. To complicate matters, the tree was located at the back of a residential property with no way to drive in a mechanical lift. Even if we could bring in heavy equipment, the ground was saturated and boggy.

Duane and Ron laid out wooden planks on which they set a tall ladder. For extra security, they tied the ladder to posts driven into the ground. Hoping to secure the line and lower the entangled raptor to the ground, Duane used an especially long pole with a hook on the end.

He managed to get hold of the line, but, unfortunately, the line snapped and the owl flew off to a grove of trees, blocks away.

The good news is that the line remaining on the bird's foot was now very short - something we hope the owl can manage to work off.

If WildRescue receives any reports of this owl being sighted, a team will try to trap the animal so the rest of the line can be removed.

Interestingly, the team found a freshly killed gopher in the grass below the entangled owl. Piecing together bits of information, they believe the owl snatched the gopher from a nearby yard and may have picked up the line at the same time. As the owl was flying, trailing some 20' of line, the line got caught up in the branches of the cottonwood.

This is a great example of how litter, like discarded line or string, can be a real threat to wildlife. Be sure to pick up any pieces of line you find, and dispose of it properly. Long pieces should be cut up before its thrown away.

May 5, 2012

Little orphan saw-whet

Earlier this week, our colleagues at the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Care Center received a young Northern saw-whet owl. It was found on a maintenance road in Memorial Park, near Loma Mar. 

The owlet arrived weak and dehydrated, leading us to believe it had been without parental care for at least one night. Even so, we all agreed that if the owlet recovered fully, reuniting should be considered.

To reunite a healthy baby with its wild family, one must be well-acquainted with the natural history, or life history, of the species involved. This body of knowledge provides details on nesting behavior, for example, saw-whet owls are cavity-nesters, relying on previously excavated cavities. 

We also know that male saw-whet owls provide food to the female while she broods their young, although there are accounts of males providing food for other females and their young. Females leave the nest when the young are approximately 18 days old, when she either joins her mate in rearing their young, or leaves to mate with and raise young with another male. The young fledge at about 4-5 weeks of age, when they are nearly able to fly, but they remain together and in the care of their parent(s) for at least one more month. 

Within a couple of days, the little orphan saw-whet had regained its strength and was officially 'out of the woods'. It was time to consider taking him home, but we had to be sure there was at least one parent to care of him.

Last night, two of our responders volunteered to do a stakeout. They met up at the exact location where the owlet had been found and sat quietly in their cars, listening for begging calls from the owlet's siblings. There was nothing.

Today, Maureen returned to the location to do some more detective work, looking for any signs of an active nest or an adult saw-whet.

By day, a saw-whet owl will stay hidden in foliage, roosting on lower branches. Come nightfall, saw-whet owls will use a 'sit and wait then pounce' tactic to secure a meal. They feed primarily on small mammals but will also eat frogs, insects, and occasionally smaller birds.


And many, many thanks to the wildlife rehabilitators at the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Care Center!!!