Monday, March 29, 2010

The Orphans are Coming!

As the weather begins to warm up, the Wildlife Clinic has once again begun receiving orphaned baby animals. In Champaign County, Great Horned Owls begin nesting in February, and our first two orphans of the season have been some baby GHO chicks that were healthy despite falling out of their nests. To minimize imprinting on humans, these babies were transferred to the Illinois Raptor Center as quickly as possible to be raised with surrogates. The GHO's time their reproduction so that the can feed their babies with the bounty of offspring produced by other animals beginning in March. Squirrels are some of the first mammals to bear young, and the clinic has received quite a few litters so far. Cotton Tail Rabbits will begin breeding when temperatures are above 60F. There have been more than a few warm days this March and the clinic has had many litters of rabbits as well. In April, song birds begin nesting and other mammals like raccoons will start to bear young.

The First Litter of Squirrels at the Clinic This Spring
The Very First Orphan of the Season, a Baby Great Horned Owl
It is important to remember that wild baby animals best left in the wild to be raised by their parents. Being raised by humans results in higher mortality rates due to difficulty feeding, artificial diets, and high stress levels. Mother rabbits only visit the nest twice a day. If you have found a nest of baby bunnies, place crossed sticks or twigs over the nest and come back in 12 hours to see if they have moved. It is a myth that wild animal mothers (be they mammals or birds) will not come back to their offspring if humans have touched them. The maternal instinct will overcome any potential fear caused by the human scent. Like baby rabbits, baby birds should be put back in their nest if found on the ground. If you cannot reach the nest, or if it has been destroyed, a plastic container or box with small holes in the bottom for drainage can be nailed to the tree the birds came from, and the babies can be put in the artificial nest for their parents to find. Of course, if a baby animal is injured, cold to the touch, or has bugs on it, it should be brought to the clinic for medical attention. These are just some very basic guidelines. If you ever have a questions on wildlife, you should speak to an expert such as the clinic (217-244-1195) or your local wildlife rehabber.

A Nest of Baby Rabbits with
Sticks Crossed Over Top
to See If Mom Returns

Friday, March 12, 2010

Something's a FOWL in the Wildlife Clinic!

... waterfowl that is! The Wildlife Clinic's waterfowl collection started back just before Valentine's Day when a mallard duck was presented to us with a broken wing. His left humerus was completely broken and a piece of it was bent in the wrong direction! Our ducky valentine underwent surgery and, as you can see in the picture to the left, he has an external fixator holding everything in place while his wing heals. It is predicted that he will not be able to fly once the bone heals, but there is a happy ending awaiting this duck- he has been placed on a farm where he can swim all day in the pond and be adored by visiting children. Next added to our collection were two mute swans. They arrived almost a week apart but both presented as weak, lethargic and dehydrated. The first swan was released earlier this week. The second is still with us, being diligently attended to by his team. To the right, he is pictured surrounded by a group of students who are determinedly working to keep him feeling good. The final waterfowl in our current collection is a lesser snow goose, pictured below. He hurt his wing in the process of migrating up to the Arctic and he is now waiting, impatiently, for his wing to mend so he can continue his long journey. Snow geese are not something we see frequently in the wildlife clinic, but that does not mean they are an uncommon sight in our area! In as early as October you can see flocks of them heading south for the winter. They go as far south as Central America and then, in February, you can see them heading back up north toward the Arctic. We wish our goose a fast recovery and a safe journey home!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It is the eve of the 9th annual Doodle for Wildlife! We have some very exciting celebrity doodles and wonderful prize packages up for auction. Of course we also have some very special artwork from our own in-house celebrities: our resident raptors! Our birds have generously donated some of their finest "wing painted" artwork for auction. They are anxiously awaiting their public's response to the paintings this year. In the past the stunning pieces that our raptors paint have been some of our biggest successes in raising money for the wildlife clinic. Pictured above is a piece that was auctioned off at last year's Doodle event. The Wildlife Medical Clinic depends on the donations we receive and the money we raise from Doodle in order to keep running. Our resident birds go to great lengths to create these paintings for us and help the clinic's cause. Nokomis, our resident Great Horned Owl, had a couple of orange feathers for a week after creating his piece this year. In a private interview, he assured me that "it was little price to pay for the sake of my art." As you can see our birds take their artwork very seriously and we appreciate their efforts to help raise money for the clinic!