Orphaned Raccoons, Field and Stream (Cool video!)

As we posted a couple of weeks ago, it’s the time of year that the orphaned raccoons we’ve cared for over the Summer are reaching an age that we can return them to their wild, free lives.

We often talk about the efforts that we can all make to co-exist with our wild neighbors as well as the work we do to keep our patients wild. No cuddling, we keep our voices down when we work near them. We strive to respect their wild natures and to protect them from the harm that comes to wild animals who don’t have an appropriate aversion to humans and human activity.

Another thing that we work for, when it comes to raising orphaned wild babies, is developing ways for them to learn the skills they will need to survive on their own. This is the hardest task of all, and involves every aspect of their care! Housing set-up that includes natural elements to imitate forest, field, stream or ocean, as best we can, foods selected that are similar to what an individual of any species might eat, and presenting the food in a manner that will teach hunting or foraging skills are all important aspects that must be included.

For raccoons, this task is as complex as they are. So, at our last release we were very gratified to watch one of our patients, moments after release, make her way downstream about 50 yards and then, to our happy surprise, start fishing! We are thrilled to see our hard work pay off and to see this young raccoon demonstrate that she knows what to do when presented with a real field and stream.

Check out this 3 minute video of our latest release (including the act of catching her first wild fish) and enjoy it too, because it’s your support that makes this work possible. So THANK YOU!!

raccoon 2015 3rd release 20 OCT - 33Exploring the wide and wild world!


raccoon 2015 3rd release 20 OCT - 47Agility and strength – fostering these while in captivity is a challenge when raising wild orphans! Our staff and your support make it possible!


[We are still deep in our fall fundraiser, nearly halfway to our goal of $10,000! Last week it seemed we would never make it and now it looks like we have a fighting chance! Help us cross the finish line! Every donation is tax-deductible, and every donation, no matter the size, goes directly toward meeting our mission! Your help is essential! Donate today!

Thank you for being a part of this live-saving work. Thank you for your love of the WILD!]


video taken by Laura Corsiglia and Lucinda Adamason for Bird Ally X; all photos Laura Corsiglia/BAX


Young Seabirds Rescued and Released

2015 has not been a very good year for Common Murres (Uria aalge californica) on the west coast of North America. From Southern California to British Columbia, thousands of these seabirds, mostly young of the year, have been found on beaches dead or dying of starvation.

Bird Ally X co-directors Marie Travers and Shannon Riggs, DVM have been responding to this “crash” in Southern California at Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay where Dr Riggs is director of animal care. This year they’ve treated well over a 150 young Common Murres. San Francisco Bay area wildlife care providers have been inundated with starving young Murres as well.

On the North Coast, the situation has been slightly different, our cooler temperatures and distance form the larger fishing ports and urban impact has left more room in the ocean for our seabird neighbors. Even so, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center has admitted nearly 50 starving juveniles since the “die-off” began in July. That’s a lot of work for our small facility and it’s a lot of fish, too.

[Help support our efforts to raise healthy, wild orphans and provide quality care for all marine wildlife caught in civilization’s many snares. Please contribute to our Fall campaign today. $ = Fish, medicine, water. Every donation helps!]

We posted earlier this Summer when we had a pool full of these beautiful elegant birds. Now as the season turns cool, many are ready for release back to their oceanic lives.

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Thank you for being a part of this life saving work. Your support keeps us and our patients afloat.


Video/Photos: BAX/Ruth Mock, BAX/Stephanie Owens


Raccoons Raring to Re-enter the Real (video and photos)

[Help support our efforts to raise healthy, wild orphans and also prevent disruptions to wild families in the first place. Please contribute to our Fall campaign today. Every donation helps!]

Each year at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, we can expect to treat a certain number of orphaned raccoons (Procyon lotor). Although we engage in outreach to promote humane solutions to denning mother raccoons, trying to keep wild families together, the simple fact is that several times each Spring and Summer we admit small groups of raccoon babies whose mothers have been either shot or trapped and “relocated” (illegal and inhumane, usually results in the death of the mother and, unless they are found and taken to a wildlife rehabilitator, the death of her babies that remain). On average we raise 20 to 30 raccoon babies at our Northern California clinic every season. This year we’ve had 25 (19 right now!) babies in care.

Although caring for orphaned raccoons is a common task for wildlife rehabilitators across the continent, it’s a very specialized skill, requiring experience, commitment, financial resources and appropriate housing. Without a mother who will show them the ways of the world, orphaned raccoons in care must learn to hunt, forage, climb, fish in rivers and most importantly remain wild and “untamed.” One of the cutest animals, people often try to raise raccoons as pets. This is never a good idea. Raccoons are wild animals, not pets, and deserve their freedom as much we deserve ours.

At BAX/HWCC we put a lot of effort into making sure the raccoons we care for eat the most natural and nutritionally complete diet we can provide. We place great emphasis on keeping a solid barrier between them and us, their care providers. Their survical depends on their fear of humans. An orphaned raccoon’s best shot at a happy life depends on all of these elements.

After four months in care, we just recently released the first 6 youngsters who were ready to begin their lives back in the wild. Check out the video and the photos – watch wild raccoons enter the wild for the first time since they lost their mama…

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Raccoon 2015 first release - 09The first whiff of freedom (and a real river!)

Raccoon 2015 first release - 16Over the river and into the woods, to Grandmother’s house they go.

Raccoon 2015 first release - 30Just a few steps from the cloaking device that mother Earth provides all her children…

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Raccoon 2015 first release - 50Taken with a zoom lens, one last view before these youngsters ‘disappear’ into the real world!

As with all we do, it’s your support that makes it possible. Thank YOU!


all photos: BAX/Laura Corsiglia; video BAX/Matt Gunn



Osprey Returned to the Wild! (with pictures!)

Over the Summer BAX/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center has been treating two Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), one of whom came from Red Bluff and the other from Modesto. (read more about their care here)

A fire swept through an Osprey nest in Red Bluff, CA, a small city in the far northern end of the Sacramento Valley. One adult and one nearly fledged (ready to leave nest) chick were rescued and taken to Tehama Wild Care. After stabilizing the birds their only injuries appeard to be the singed feathers both had suffered. Feathers of course are a critical component of any bird’s health and well-being. Feathers make flight possible. Feathers allow hot-blooded birds to maintain a stable temperature (normal for most birds is between 103 and 106 degrees!).  Unhealthy or damaged feathers could cause life-threatening challenges. Early in care, the young bird died, while the adult did well. Still the adult was very stressed by captivity and would dive in a threatening manner toward her human caregivers!

Soon after we admitted another Osprey chick who had been found out of her nest as a very small bird and hand-raised by our colleagues at Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center, near Modesto. This young bird now needed time in an aviary to be able to develop flight skills and also be monitored for appropriate behavior and fear of humans. Fortunately for her, we had an adult in care and good housing for the job so the young bird was sent north. The two birds quickly bonded, assuming a kind of parent/chick relationship. We knew then that the prognosis for a happy outcome was good.

After 5 weeks in an aviary together, gaining weight and strength, developing flight and eating a lot of fish ($ = fish!) we were able to determine that their feather conditon was adequate to be released – no good would come from more time in the aviary, with the layer of stress caused by captivity factored in, and the need for the young bird to learn real world skills that her new surrogate mother could teach her in the wild. Strong and healthy and sick of us, it was time for them to go.

[Fall Fundraiser: Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center need your support! Summer bills must be paid. Winter maintenance must be done. Food and medicine for patients must be purchased. Utilities too! Without you we cannot keep our doors open, ready to accept into care all native California wildlife, orphaned or injured by the impact of our towns, our highways, our trash, our reckless disregard for our wild neighbors. Please contribute today. Any amount helps. Please give what you can.]

Yesterday, BAX co-director Laura Corsiglia and volunteer Bonnie MacRaith took the two birds on the long drive back to Red Bluff, back to adult’s home place and with her new kid in tow.

After returning to Humboldt, Bonnie stopped in at the clinic – this had been her first wild release… her eyes welling up, she reported the joy of seeing the adult fly out over the Sacramento River, and the youngster, who had come out of the carrier first and stood looking about, leaping into flight right behind her and following out across the river and into the sky and into perfect wild freedom.

2015 Osprey - 176Another open door to a wild and free future!

2015 Osprey - 177Juvenile Osprey wonders what to do with the wide open possibilities.

2015 Osprey - 182The adult Osprey seemed to know exactly where she was and what she wanted. Out of the carrier and into the sky!

2015 Osprey - 180And the youngster followed close behind…

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2015 Osprey - 184The last glimpse! Good luck fishing!

As is always the case, our work is possible because of mutual aid between wildlife rehabilitators, help from agencies like the US Fish and Wildlife Service and CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, and most importantly, your support. Your donations pay for everything we do! Food, medicine, appropriate housing – all of the critical elements to these birds’ happy outcome is the direct result of your donation. We are a very small organization with a huge task to do. Please give what you can today!


All photos: BAX/Laura Corsiglia


Gray Fox is Free!

[Fall Fundraiser: Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center need your support! Summer bills must be paid. Winter maintenance must be done. Food and medicine for patients must be purchased. Utilities too! Without you we cannot keep our doors open, ready to accept into care all native California wildlife, orphaned or injured by the impact of our towns, our highways, our trash, our reckless disregard for our wild neighbors. Please contribute today. Any amount helps. Please give what you can.]

Early September, during a Sunday morning shift, this Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) was brought to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center with her head caught in a hard plastic cup. Her rescuer, a traveler passing through, was able to catch and restrain her, locate us on the internet and walk her over. He and his companions brought her in just past 10am. (read more of her first day in care here)

Over the course of her treatment (read about her time in care here) she rebounded quickly. Although at first we worried that the trauma to her ears was too severe for her to be returned to the wild, soon she was alert, ears up, wounds healing quickly and snarling mad!

We kept our hands and eyes off her as much as we could during her course of treatment, balancing her need for wild privacy with our need to monitor her recovery.

On a diet of fish, thawed rats, eggs and occasional car-killed pigeons, her weight shot up from 2000 grams to 2700 grams (4 1/2 pounds to 6 pounds – a big gain for a small animal!). Her agility and energy increased dramatically as well. (see photos below!)

After nearly a month in care, her wounds were healed, her fur growing back in nicely, and her body strong and lithe. It was time for her to be released. She couldn’t have agreed more.

gray fox cup 2015 - 065In the Gray fox’ housing to catch for her release examination

gray fox cup 2015 - 068Flying fox? No, just anxious to be free.

gray fox cup 2015 - 072Nabbed!

gray fox cup 2015 - 074In the net for less than a minute, this is still a stressful moment for all concerned.

gray fox cup 2015 - 099Onto the exam table for a look at her condition.

gray fox cup 2015 - 085Bird Ally X/HWCC volunteer staffperson, Stephanie Owens, restrains our patient. Her job is to protect both patient and examiner. 6 pounds of fury can bite pretty hard!

gray fox cup 2015 - 097Hard to believe how quickly her condition improved. Her ears are nearly perfect now. Compare with the next photo of her on admission day!

gray fox cup 2015 - 6Raw, flattened by who knows how long in that cup, and infested with fly larvae (maggots) we were worried her ears would not heal well enough for her to hunt again. Thankfully she made a full recovery! (photo: BAX/Heather Freitas)

gray fox cup 2015 - 104At the release site, close to where she was rescued. Freedom’s just a box top away!


gray fox cup 2015 - 105Buh-bye! Our favorite moment in the care of any patient!

gray fox cup 2015 - 116The last glimpse we had before she disappeared into the Wild.

This Gray fox was a dramatic patient. She exemplified all the frustration and all of the reward of caring for injured and orphaned wild animals. Her injury was caused by something easily prevented. Reckless and irresponsible action by humans in society, one little piece of litter in a world full of toxins, traumas, challenges and threats nearly ended the life of this fox. But with accessible care available for her, and a dedicated staff, she was able to be treated successfully and returned to her wild and free life. Although the causes are the same for most of our patients, not all are so lucky. Most aren’t.

Thanks to your support, we are able to be here 7 days a week, every day of the year. Dedicated volunteers, very limited paid staff, and our Bayside clinic – we don’t have much by way of resources, but we make the most of what we’ve got! Your donation goes a very long way in keeping us going and making sure that the North Coast has a place for injured and orphaned wild neighbors to be treated – treated for injuries and treated with the respect that all wild animals deserve. As Henry Thoreau elegantly wrote, “All good things are wild and free.”


all photos: Bird Ally X/Laura Corsiglia except where noted.