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
Wednesdays are my office days at Wildwoods so I have less contact with animals than on other shifts, but there is no avoiding it. Once you set foot on WW property, if you are staff you will end up caring for animals. Last night a red squirrel came in while the other staff were busy so I admitted him. He had been caught by a cat, had spinal trauma and a laceration on his neck. Continue reading A Hypothermic Red Squirrel
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
For two years I have been a volunteer with my local wildlife rehabilitation facility and this year they have made me a part-time paid staff member. This means I get to participate in more complicated procedures, handle a wider variety of animals, and learn more about rehabilitation, but it also means I am exposed more and more to the harder side of things. Euthanasia, specifically. The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to rehabilitate wildlife so they can continue to live a full life, in the wild, as they were intended to do. One thing that really hampers this effort, I am learning, is what people do to the animals before they bring them to us. Take, for example, a young squirrel I had to euthanize yesterday. Continue reading Wild Animals as Pets
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.
Husband and I set out on a walk with the pup Sunday night and found ourselves an adventure, just a few blocks from our door. A Cottontail rabbit sitting nearly motionless in the middle of the road had been hit by a car. We had two choices: keep walking and hope for the best, or do what we could to help it. For me, there was no decision at all. Continue reading Feels So Good
A man I work with told me he had once rescued a gray fox somewhere in Pennsylvania. It had been hit by a car and he found a rehab place that would do surgery to mend its broken leg. After a while he called back to see how the fox was doing and they told him they’d had to put it down because the injury was not healing properly. The man was really upset by this; he felt like it had all been for nothing and that he should have either found somewhere else to take it, or should have left it where he found it. Continue reading The Worst Outcome
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
Conflicted. That’s how I felt after receiving a call the day I was supposed to volunteer this week and was told there was nothing for me to do. On one hand, that means all the orphans and injured animals are healed and grown and are ready, or nearly ready, for release. That’s good! On the other hand, all the goodness that my time at Wildwoods brings me every week is likely over for the season. That makes me sad-face.
It’s hard to put into words how I feel when I’m spending my time feeding and caring for the critters. I feel needed. Everyone needs to feel needed. I feel like I have something meaningful to do with my free time that I actually enjoy doing. In the absence of a meaningful job, this is critical. I feel soothed when I get to pet a little squirrel or rabbit or even a bird. Just like with my pup’n’cat, it melts away a bad day. I feel absolutely in awe and more spiritually connected when I find myself face-to-face with an Eagle or Heron or any creature I haven’t seen up close before.
I dislike winter and now I have an even bigger reason to look forward to spring.
Visit Wildwoods’ website to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation.
I have recently discovered something that has given my life such meaning and improves my attitude and outlook drastically each time I go. Before I talk more about it, though, this post requires a “Do not try this at home” disclaimer. Continue reading Wildlife Rehabilitation