Big Release Day!

This holiday weekend got off to a great start; filled with the best outcome for our work- multiple releases!

Friday we released 11 of our patients back to their free and wild lives after recovering from being orphaned or injured.

Four Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) juveniles were released. These birds were siblings whose nest was illegally removed by a maintenance person at the request of the homeowner. It’s a crime to remove a migratory songbird’s nest. Most migratory birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Sadly, this nest was the second one for this Barn Swallow pair to be destroyed this summer by the same person! Both sets of babies were brought to us to be raised. Of course we explained the law, so hopefully next summer, if the parent birds return to the same location, they might have a chance to raise their own babies!

Also released was a Great Egret (Ardea alba) who’d been found in a ditch, covered in mud and very thin. After a two weeks of care, this bird was doing very well, using our aviary for built specifically for herons and egrets, as well as dabbling ducks. Check out the video of the heron’s release:

A few days ago we admitted for care both a Pileated Woodpecker  (Dryocopus  pileatus) and a Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) who’d collided with windows.

Window strikes can be deadly, especially for a larger bird like a woodpecker, who’s mass increases the force of the impact. There are several things you can do to minimize the risk of a bird colliding with your windows, including stickers, sprays, objects or anything that can make the window either visible or inaccessible. You can go to Cornell  Lab of Ornithology’s website for more ideas on making your windows less dangerous.

Fortunately, both the Woodpecker and the Rail were only disoriented and stunned by their collisions. Only a few days in care were required before they were released. Here’s a video of the Woodpecker:

We also released two Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) One, an adult, was found unable to fly in a backyard in the community of King Salmon on the edge of Humboldt Bay. She’d been there for a few days, eating chicken scratch. Weak and very thin, the bird was enthusiastic about the fish diet we served. After several days in care she was flying in our gull aviary. After 3 weeks she was ready for freedom!


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Released with the adult was a juvenile gull who we admitted several weeks ago. His parents had the misfortune of nesting on the deck of a sail boat in the San Francisco Bay area. When the boat sailed for Humboldt midsummer, they brought this baby with them. Since therew as obviously no way to get himback to his parents, we provided fish and safe housing. Once he was ready to fly we moved him into the aviary with the adult. Both were released on the same day, together.

Here’s a fuzzy video that does at least show their excitement upon release from captivity.

And that’s not all! We also released a California King Snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) and the last Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) in care from our summer ducklings.

The King Snake had been wrongfully held captive. He only needed time to prove that he knew what his natural food should be and that he was acclimated to life outdoors.

As a late season baby, the Mallard duckling had been alone for a few weeks in care. But released, she was soon in the comapny of her kind at the Arcata marsh, where food is plentiful and the chance to socialize and prepare for winter as a proper Mallard will finish her education.

Each of these wild neighbors would have died without your support. Each of them received the best care we could provide at the only available wildlife clinic on the North coast. Thanks to your generosity and your love for the wild, we are here every single day of the year. If you’d like to help us meet the challenge of our mission, donate today! Thank you!!