Category Archives: Wildlife

Squirrels at my birdfeeder

I used to get really upset by the squirrels eating at my bird feeder, but not so much any more. What changed? Continue reading Squirrels at my birdfeeder


We can be friends

The number one most annoying thing I hear when someone finds out I do wildlife rehabilitation is, “oh, well I guess we can’t be friends.” I know what’s coming next and I do an internal eye roll every time. “Because I’m a hunter.”

Well no shit, Sherlock, this is Minnesota. Everyone and their grandma is a hunter. And news flash: I don’t care. Continue reading We can be friends

Eagle and three eaglets, from the MN DNR Eagle Cam

Nature is Harsh

In most workplaces the “water cooler” conversation tends to revolve around the latest episode of Game of Thrones or the most recent workplace gossip. Not where I work. I work for an industrial manufacturer and oddly enough the topic that comes up the most in conversation is the DNR’s Eagle-cam and the three little eaglets born in early March.

I find that as a volunteer wildlife rehabber I get a lot of questions from co-workers about various animal-related topics but lately the questions I get the most are about these fluffy little nestlings. One co-worker in particular is very concerned that the parents keep flying off, leaving the newborns (at this point about 3 weeks old) alone for extended periods of time. She also feels that one of the nestlings is always getting less food than the others, crowded out by its siblings and ignored by its parents. She’s a mom and she gets angry about the unfairness of it all.

All I can say is, nature is hard, man, and it’s all about survival from day one. Continue reading Nature is Harsh

Don’t trim those trees yet!

Squirrels and birds are having their babies and that means there are young ones in hidden nests in that tree you’re about to cut down or prune. Squirrels reproduce about three times a year so it’s safest to trim your trees in late fall and winter.

“But squirrels are pests,” you say, “and they eat all my bird food. I don’t want them around anyway.” Ok, I get it. To that I would first recommend learning to see the beauty, wonder and hilarity that are squirrels and to appreciate them just as much as the goldfinches, but I understand a lot of people are just not going to come around to that point of view. Still…

Babies. You must be able to at least admit that babies have done nothing to deserve being thrown from trees or more likely, hauled away with the tree and forever separated from mom. They’ll die unless someone finds them and gets them to a rehabber immediately, and even then it’s no guarantee. Helpless, innocent babies.

And the same goes for bird nests too! They are hard to see sometimes and you might not be aware they even exist.

In any case, spring is not the best time to trim your trees or cut them down. Wait until the snow flies, when the new birds have fledged and migrated, and the squirrels have slowed their reproductive pace to conserve energy. Not only will you be helping the newborn critters in the tree, you’ll be saving the rehabbers a lot of headache. So many of the young animals we admit are orphaned because of yard work. Did you know baby birds require feeding every 20 minutes without fail? That means someone has to be there all day and all night, feeding every 20 minutes.

Now I’m not complaining… well, kind of I am. It’s worth it for wildlife rehabbers to do that much work. Will we single-handedly impact the animal population by saving these babies? Nope. Not even a little. But to the one bird or one squirrel that we save by going the extra mile, it means the entire world.

Please help us out by waiting to trim your trees until winter.

Preventing Animal Cruelty

For a while it seemed like every week someone would bring an animal in to Wildwoods that had been rescued from abuse at the hands of children. My intial reaction always included rage, anger, obscenities and the phrase, “serial killers in training.” Not the most productive of reactions, and luckily I was never the one to encounter these kids, as I probably would not have the strength and foresight to push past my gut reaction toward a more positive and helpful one.

To help us all remember that kind, compassionate education is the key to ending this kind of behavior, Tara Smith, one of the staff members at Wildwoods, wrote a great article in a local newspaper, which you can and should read here, recounting the story of another wildlife rehabber who was able to get past the anger and find a teachable moment that changed everything.

A Heartfelt Plea from a Wildlife Rehabber, by Tara Smith  |  The Budgeteer

Featured photo from Audrey (flickr)

Bird Feeder Alternative

This article from Mother Nature Network is a great discussion of why using a garden to attract birds is more beneficial than bird feeders.

Having a bird-friendly garden has a few “pros” over simply placing a feeder in the yard. You end up planting a wider diversity of plants and thus attract a wider diversity of not only birds but also insects such as butterflies and bees, which then attract even more different types of birds; for those who like to photograph their backyard birds, you have a wider variety of perches and backdrops with a beautiful, natural look to them; and you have birds that are comfortable with people moving about the garden.

Read more:

Wildlife Rehab 2015 Season

I am so excited. The 2015 baby season is almost upon us and soon I will be called back to volunteer at Wildwoods, taking care of all the orphaned and sick baby squirrels, birds, fawns and Lord only knows what else. It’s bittersweet and every person who volunteers feels a little pang of guilt because we’re looking forward to injured, orphaned and sick animals so we can take care of them.

But they are so damn cute. Continue reading Wildlife Rehab 2015 Season

What Kind of Bird Is This?

These pictures were taken at my house in Duluth. I can’t figure out what kind of bird this is. Does anyone know? It’s smaller than a blue-jay, about the size of a robin. I’ve only seen 2 of them and they haven’t been back (that I’m aware) since I took these photos. I apologize for the crappy photos. They were very skittish and I had to take the pictures from a distance through a window.