Ring-Billed Gull Beats the Parking Lot

Every year Humboldt Wildlife Care Center admits nearly 100 gulls of various species. Many of these gulls are injured beyond all help but a humane end to their suffering. The most common causes of injuries to gulls are trucks and cars, and the most dangerous place, it seems, are the parking lots of area shopping centers.

It seems strange that parking lots would be the most dangerous, since traffic in lots is already very slow, the presence of children and people pushing carts would make driver’s more aware and able to avoid collisions with gulls and other birds. Of course, we’ve all witnessed the sad fact of young men trying to run down pigeons and gulls in parking lots with their vehicles. Purposefully trying to hit wild animals with a vehicle is an act of senseless cruelty and a troubling sign. While we don’t know if many of the gulls we treat suffered intentional cruelty, whenever we admit an animal found in a parking lot, we wonder even if we’ll never know. What we do know is that a large number of those gulls don’t make it.

A few days ago, however, we admitted a Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) who’d been found on the ground, barely able to move, unable to stand in the parking lot for a shopping center on Broadway Avenue in Eureka. At first we were concerned that the gull had been hit hard enough to fracture his or her spine. But both feet were responsive to touch.

With no palpable fractures, we assumed either acute toxicity, or a collision that had cause swelling. Treated with fluids and anti-inflammatory medicine, the gull soon was standing again.

Recovery was fast. After a few days in our aviary, the gull was flying very well and ready for freedom. The following photos are in sequence from the today’s release. The gull leapt from the carrier and never touched the ground…

A nice way to end a challenging year! A gull’s second chance in a dangerous world!

Your support means that this gull, one of the last patients released in 2017, who would’ve died last week, vulnerable and wounded on an acre of pavement where people stash their cars while shopping for trinkets, an all too common fate, instead is flying above Humboldt Bay, free right now, using a second chance that your generosity provided. Our human-built world takes little heed of our wild neighbors. Your support helps fix that problem, case by case, one wild neighbor at a time.

Thank you for supporting our work in 2017. From all of us at HWCC/BAX Have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve and we’ll see you tomorrow, as we enter 2018 with an open door for our wild neighbors. Thank you.

photos: Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia


A Challenging Year Ends, A New Year’s Promise

A tumultuous year, 2017 has been. We’re glad to reach the finish line! Challenging though it was, we are here today because of your support. Because of your support, our chief project, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is open 7 days a week, every day of the year. Because of your support we’ve never turned away a wild neighbor in need. Because of your support, we’ve met the needs of 1,154 patients so far (on 12/30/17). Your support provided treatment for nearly 100 Hawks and Owls and over 400 Songbirds. From Mallards to Sandpipers to Common Loons, your support provided the specialized housing that our 256 aquatic bird patients required. We treated over 350 mammals – orphaned Raccoons, Gray Fox, a neonatal Little Brown Bat, a Coyote pup, juvenile Douglas squirrels, nearly 40 skunks, litters of Opossums, – Deer mice and voles. Your support kept us open to be there to help two dozen adult Raccoons, Opossums and Skunks find a humane end after being mangled beyond hope by a truck or a car.

The challenges to our communities this year have at times felt pretty dangerous, veering from harm to vulnerable people and families to risks so terrible – climate change, environmental collapse, geopolitical tensions, and more – that they seem to threaten our collective existence. For many this is a brand new challenge. For many this is a re-telling of their loss – of land, of life, of language, of standing in a dominating society. For the wild, in her extreme diversity, this is the story of her interactions with civilization since the first forests were sacrificed to build ships of war.

Threats to the wild rarely stop. This last weekend of the year among other things, we learn that established rules of safety for offshore oil drilling and fracking will be rescinded. The killing of birds by the various energy industries will no longer be considered a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, weakening the enforcement of a century old law that has yet to fulfill its promise.

Wild lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, whose protection has been a constant battle for decades, are opened now for plunder. To be free, wild animals need a place to be. Habitat loss, along with buildings, cats and cars are the biggest threats facing wild animals today. These cause the most harm to populations and they are the top reasons that patients are admitted to HWCC.

It is certainly not a recent observation that industry has wreaked havoc on the wild world. Our beloved Henry David Thoreau, in 1861, consoling himself that while the forests of Concord had been mowed down that at least, “men cannot fly and lay waste the sky as well as earth,” yet here we are 150 years on and the naiveté of that sentiment, that somehow the sky would be safe, is little more than a tragic joke.

The fight to protect the air, the sea, the land – to preserve these necessary things – we were hardly near winning before last year, but now it’s impossible to not fear the naked aggression against the natural world on current display.

It’s been reported that the tax on each barrel of oil that goes into the federal fund for spill cleanup, including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, for use when there is no known responsible party, or in circumstances when the responsible party lacks the ability to pay for the clean up, will expire at the end of 2017 with no plan to renew it.

The notion that we pay for what we damage is both a homily of our daily lives and a hard fought right that our victims have a hard time making stick. Only for wildlife injured in an oil spill is there a mandate that they be given care and restored to their lives to the best of our ability. On a case by case basis this or that industry might be forced to help rehabilitate the birds who survive whatever fresh hell they’ve brought to some corner of the earth – a meat packing plant might be forced to pay for the care of the gulls who were sickened by uncovered waste –  an agri-business might have to pay for the care of displaced chicks caused by mowing a rice field while nesting White-faced Ibis were present. Or they might not.

Your support is critical. HWCC, our education programs, and our humane solutions program to peacefully resolve human/wildlife conflicts are supported entirely by your generosity! Please donate!

This is the world we live in.

This year we admitted orphaned baby mammals as late as mid October – 6 weeks later than ever before, and other timings are also off. Raccoons admitted in October as well, and no juvenile Common Murres admitted at all, a sign not of their success in the wild, but their failure.The only thing that seems certain is the that the demands on public money will mount in the face of damage caused by a changing climate; – that barring some miraculous change in the priorities of those who wield the power today, the resources that the federal government makes available or mandates for the care of anthropogenic injuries suffered by our wild neighbors will shrink not grow.

In 2017, across the state of California, wildlife care providers were forced to evacuate their facilities because of fire. The unsustainable impact of industrial civilization on the natural world – predicted and observed decades in advance of our current predicament – is wreaking havoc now. From the Virgin Islands, we were contacted by a wildlife rehabilitator who needed to replace her copy of our book, An Introduction to Aquatic Bird Rehabilitation, that she lost with the rest of her library during the devastating Hurricane Maria.

So here we are.

Precariously perched on the edge of a less certain future – how will our changing environment harm local wildlife? How will unprecedented demands on emergency resources impact what is available for injured and orphaned wild neighbors? In times of calamity, will our human communities have the capacity to still provide care for innocent wild victims?

Against these calamities and with these uncertainties, we push forward into the new year. Our wildlife rehabilitation  program at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is pretty straightforward regardless of challenges. Our hospital will be open to every wild neighbor in need. We will provide care for the wild animals that are brought to us, each according to their need to best of our abilities. Proper diets, appropriate medicine, and housing that encourages recovery for the diverse species we treat – no matter what the future brings, providing these essential things to our patients who were injured by human activity is both the least and the most we can do. Individual care for injured and orphaned wild species is our alpha and omega. In 2018 we will continue to improve our wildlife rehabilitation program, including much needed housing for orphaned deer fawns and expanded capacity for orphaned geese and ducks.

Once committed to providing care and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wild animals, everything, from the practical realities to the eternal truths, demands that we work to prevent needless injury. Promoting co-existence with the wild is part and parcel of providing care to wild animals. In the best of times this is a challenge. We live in a society that hasn’t been willing to co-exist with the wild, more so seeing some elements of the wild as a threat to the other elements of wild whose extraction is profitable. And so wolves and bison were slaughtered in front of expanding cattle ranching and industrial farming. Coyotes, raccoons, prairie dogs, gophers, woodpeckers, migratory waterfowl, blackbirds and more are subject to death each year in the millions because they stepped into the wrong side of the city. Advocates for the wild in the best of times must wage constant defense against the short-sighted use of lethal options when wild animals and humans come into conflict. At its essence promoting co-existence is the work of expanding our culture’s view of who matters, who we regard as family, and who we are willing to see at all.

Now in times of struggle, we wonder if our communities will contract or expand. In twenty years will our family be larger or smaller? Promoting co-existence means working to ensure that our family grows.

Working for wildlife means working for a world of justice and equality. It’s impossible to see the orphaned raccoon and not the refugee child. In this way we stand with those who fight for civil rights, for equal treatment under the law, for the freedom to be – but clearly our own work is alongside those who struggle to bring our communities into a more sane and  humble relationship with with the source of all life, the wild, – to help bring a societal shift away from destructive extraction, away from savage land practices that destroy habitat… and we do this by reaching out and strengthening our professional networks, offering trainings and skill sharing so that the hard-won advances in our field of wildlife care are spread and survive even as other systems fail, – to get our progress, earned over decades by committed care providers everywhere, into as many baskets as we can. Support, in uncertain times, for those who provide care is as critical to our mission as the rest. So in 2018 we will continue to publish materials and provide continuing education opportunities for other wildlife rehabilitators as well as train future care providers through our internship program at HWCC.
In 2017, with your support, we provided direct care for nearly 1200 injured and orphaned wild animals. We responded to thousands of phone calls that prevented untold injuries. Our educational programs reached thousands of people from school children to professional rehabilitators, agency personnel and the next generation of care givers. All of these things we do in good times and bad, through crises and repose. Each day our doors are open and we’re working. Our shoestring budget makes some things more difficult, but it actually keeps us true to our cause – our purpose and the future.

We are preparing daily to do our work in the world that comes our way, whether it’s a world we’d choose or not. Some things are foregone: oceans will rise, forests will burn. Wars will be waged by those same hungry ghosts who wage them now. And perhaps our resources will be stretched thin – or maybe we’ll experience abundance. No matter which, we will be here. To remember the words of one of HWCC’s past board members, “when we save a wild life, we save our own humanity.”  It’s a benefit that our bleak times cannot afford to overlook. 

We’re here for the wild, including the part that’s human.

Thank you for supporting Bird Ally X and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in 2017. We’ll see you in 2018 too! Here’s to a year that sees a swing toward sanity, and Dr. King’s universal arc bending toward justice.


Western Pond Turtle Avoids Life in Captivity Thanks to Alert Craigslist Seller! (photos!!)

Although nearly every patient who we admit at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is a victim of industrial society, not all victims are injured. Recently we took a call from a man in Scotia, south of Humboldt Bay, telling us that while he’d had an aquarium listed on Craigslist someone had contacted him asking if it was suitable for a turtle. He’d asked what species and the person had told him he didn’t know but that he’d found the turtle in the Eel river.

The caller said that he’d convinced the man to surrender the turtle and that he would bring the kidnap victim to us the next day.

Among all wild species of vertebrates, reptiles and amphibians are some of the least protected by law. In California as long as you carry a sport-fishing license you may legally possess anywhere from one to an unlimited amount of turtles, frogs, salamanders, etc on any given day. Western Pond Turtles (Emys marmorata), however are listed in by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as Species of Special Concern, due to their restricted range and relatively small population. (see more info about CDFW’s special species list here.)

True to his word, the caller came by the next day with a Western Pond Turtle. After an exam, we determined that the turtle was in good health with no injuries, so the next day we too him back to secluded spot along the Eel river near Scotia.

Our examination found no problems at all. A healthy male Western pond turtle!

We selected a release site along the Eel River near Scotia, where the turtle was first kidnapped.

And then he sunk from view back into the surrounding and surrounded Wild.

While laws might not protect reptiles and amphibians as much as we’d like, laws are not the only thing that keep us and those we cherish safe. Awareness, respect, common sense, and an imagination that allows us to see the central fact of any living being’s right to be, their right to co-exist with us without harassment and unharmed. This is a major part of our work. Your support allows us to do all that we can to promote co-existence with our wild neighbors, and to remind the adults of our society of the love for the Wild into which they were born and for whom they’d once had an affinity as natural as love for our mother.

Thank you for making sure we’re here, doors open, ready to provide whatever assistance is needed to our wild neighbors. If you’d like to support our work, please donate today!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX


Western Screech-owl Returns to Ruth Lake

One of the first questions we ask when someone calls to report an injured wild animal is “where are you located?” Typically we ask the caller if they can provide the transportation. We admit 1200 patients each year and need all the help we can get with transport. But a lot of the times, the caller simply can’t. So we do a lot of driving. We serve a region that’s over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine of the states of our Union!

So when we got a call from someone in mid-November who’d found a Western Screech-owl (Megascops kennicottii) on the ground, not moving, and he was not able to drive the owl to our facility in Bayside, we googled his address. Turns out he was at the north end of Ruth Lake, 85 mountainous miles away.

When our staff arrived there, the owl was being kept in an old bird cage, and was barely responsive when moved to our transport carrier.

After the four hour round trip, the owl was given a complete examination. Based on weight, we assumed that she is female. Like most birds of prey, female Screech-owls can be as much as 30% larger than males.

Capturing in our aviary for an examination. Handling is very stressful for wild patients. We do so as little as possible.

She was suffering from head trauma – with a very depressed attitude, a neurological symptom in the form of a repeated turning her head to the left, as well as some blood in her left eye. She clearly had taken a blow, either by colliding with a building or being hit by a vehicle. We administered fluids and anti-inflammatory medicine. Heat supported housing was necessary for her first few days in care.

Soon she was more alert, eating offered mice, and beginning to show other optimistic signs, such as trying to bite and clutch us with her talons when she was handled.

After a week, she seemed ready to move to our outdoor aviary. While she continued to eat and do well, her flight, however, was very erratic. She lacked control and couldn’t maintain level flight in a straight line. More time would be needed.

The late months of the year always see a sharp increase in owls, especially Western Screech-owls, as patients admitted to our wildlife hospital, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.  The reasons are hard to know for sure, but it is probably a combination of the newly independent hatch-year (birds fledged the same year) juveniles who lack experience, and the shorter days that put nocturnal birds like owls into the predicament of hunting while evening rush hour traffic is still heavy. Whatever the reasons, we’ve admitted 27 Screech-owls so far in 2017, with 18 of them coming in since the end of Summer.

It took a few weeks for this owl to get her bearings back. But she did. Each week she flew with more strength, more control, more endurance. We reduced our handling of her to every seven days, so that her stress would be minimized as much as possible. At last, after 5 weeks in care, she was ready to go!

We took her back to her mountain home and released above the shores of Ruth Lake.
On a mountainside above Ruth Lake (created by damming the Mad River) preparing to release!

She left the box with no hesitation and put some safe distance between us before turning ducking into the thicket. 

From a safe perch she paused and seemed to consider her options. And for the first time since she was injured she had some meaningful ones!

And then she split.
Thataway —- into the Cimarrón…

Our patients at HWCC come from all over our region and some even from further away. We’ve cared for animals brought to us from Ukiah, Mount Lassen – even Modesto!

So far in 2017 we’ve provided hands on care for nearly 1,148 patients and helped resolve conflicts that would’ve ended in death or injury to thousand more wild animals. The only reason we’ve been able to do so, is because of your generous support. If you’d like to help, please, donate today! Thank you!!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX



2017 Holiday Message

(This is the text from our 2017 holiday card. Want to be on our mailing list? follow this link!)

Season’s Greetings, Friends of Wildlife!

It’s a pleasure to send you this Holiday card! We like to imagine them on refrigerator doors, push pinned to cork boards, tucked into shoeboxes, preserving each year’s portrait of a wild neighbor who’d been in our care! Collect them all! We enjoy the opportunity to thank everyone who generously helped keep our doors open. It gives us a chance to share an individual’s story – which you can multiply by thousands – to show the impact your support has here on the North Coast, as well as everywhere that our education programs travel; – from local schools to distant conferences.

Helping improve the quality of care available for injured and orphaned wild animals and promoting co-existence with the Wild is as important to us as caring for the injured animals we admit each day. It’s a simple irreducible fact: the health of Mother Earth is not a luxury we can do without!

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) on this card, recently released, is a thoroughly modern owl. Modern owl families are roughly 30 million years old. Comprehending 30 million years may be hard, but the math is easy enough. Long-eared Owls have been around, as they are today, at least 6 times longer than the most expansive view of humanity’s time on Earth.

Yet, Long-eared Owls are now in decline, listed for the last several years in California as a Bird Species of Special Concern. Long-eared Owls require a healthy forested river, they require open, low-lying fields and wetlands – critical needs that have been rapidly lost in the last 100 years! Among the 250 or so owls we’ve treated in the last five years, this is the third Long-eared Owl. Still Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte and Trinity counties, our home, may hold habitat enough to help provide this species a refuge. With your support, the North Coast will always have a place for its wild refugees when they are injured and in need.

This Owl hunted the fields and forests at the confluence of the Van Duzen and Eel rivers. Most likely hit by a car, he was found on the ground, vulnerable and in shock. He’d been seen there for more than a day. A kind stranger scooped him into a box and brought him to our clinic. With medicine, warmth and safety – the care your support provides – he quickly recovered. He’s home now on those river bottoms hunting again, living the second chance your support gave him.

Thank you for your support in 2017, a tough year indeed. All of the staff and volunteers wish you a wonderful Season of gratitude, love and joy as well as a beautiful and bountiful New Year. We look forward to meeting our mission, with your help, in 2018.

In alliance with the Wild,
All of us at BAX/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center



2017 Mugs are Here

Each year we remember a species that was notable for the year by issuing a commemorative mug – in all past years as a token of our appreciation for those who generously volunteer their time and labor to help us meet the challenges of our mission. In 2012 we featured Brown Pelicans, due to the fish waste issue that caused juveniles of that species so much trouble that year. Each subsequent year we featured a different species (All rendered by BAX co-founder and co-director, Laura Corsiglia!). This year, 2017 saw an increase of more than 100% in the Striped Skunk babies we admitted as orphans! We’ve treated 34 Skunks this year so far compared to 2016 when we treated 16 the entire year. So we present our 2017 mug! And this year’s is not only for our volunteers! You can buy a mug for only $10 – just stop by our clinic at 2182 Old Arcata Rd in Bayside and get yours – you too can make a difference for wildlife!