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

 

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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!

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They Call It Giving Tuesday

We call it Tuesday. And who knows what the day will bring – before noon and we’ve already admitted five patients. Late November 2017 and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center has treated more animals in the regular course of our year than ever before. This winter we’ve cared for a steady stream of patients – from Western Grebes to Western Screech-owls – each caught in some terrible snare of civilization; smashed by cars, starved by a sea drowning in industrial refuse.

Two of our five Western Grebe patients recover from starvation on our seabird pool.

A Pacific Loon who landed in a puddle in a parking lot floats in privacy moments before her release evaluation.

One of the 11 Western Screech-owls that HWCC treated in November 2017. Early Autumns evenings and rush hour traffic are a terrible ix for nocturnal hunters!

Moments after release, this Western Screech-owl pauses to survey his second chance – a second chance your support provided.


As 2017 comes to its end, we thank you for all the support you’ve given – the difference your generosity has made for our wild neighbors is measurable – in patients we’ve treated, in wildlife conflicts we’ve resolved, in lives we’ve touched both human and wild – and it is also without number – your support reaches into the mysterious heart of our true wild life on Earth. Thank you for helping us get it done.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wild Gratitude!

On this national day of Thanksgiving, those of us at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center want to share a few photos of our work day today! We’re here 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 in leap years!) And your support is what makes it possible!

Western Grebes in care on Thanksgiving day… Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is open every day of the year to provide care for our region’s injured and orphaned wild neighbors.

Staff and volunteers at work developing new education programs!


From all of us at Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, Thank You! Your generosity, today and everyday, keep our doors open, our clinic ready, and our mission of promoting co-existence with our wild neighbors moving forward! 

Want to help? Donate today! 




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Burrowing Owls Dig Humboldt

Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are not the most common owl on the North Coast, and are certainly not the owl most closely associated with Redwoods. In fact it is really not that ordinary to see one here at all. Yet here they most definitely are! The most likely places to see A. cunicularia in Humboldt County, according to one of our local guides, is in the driftwood on beaches from the mouth of the Eel River to the mouth of Redwood Creek.

Typically these owls, true to their name, live in underground burrows that they dig themselves, or in burrows that were  originally made by another burrowing species such as the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi).

And sometimes they can be found at a motel on Broadway, where US 101 is the main drag through Eureka.

The last Friday of October, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center received a call about an owl hanging around the parking lot of a motel in Eureka. Ordinarily we don’t intervene in the lives of our wild neighbors unless there is a good reason, such a suspected injury or other health problem. Owls are common in our cities and simply being present isn’t cause for alarm.

But this owl was reported on the ground in a location dense with traffic. Also, the people at the motel who reported him said he didn’t fly. When our staff arrived on the scene, they found a Burrowing Owl, in a car wheel well, perched on a tire. When they tried to catch he flew out across the parking lot into a motel room with an open door. While that did make capture easier, it left it unclear if he was well enough to leave alone. The owl was brought back to our clinic.

Burrowing Owls are a very unusual admission for us. We have no records of any Burrowing Owls in care at HWCC before this patient. Fortunately the initial examination found no injuries. Once placed in an aviary, the owl demonstrated excellent flight.

The previous night had seen a heavy blanket of fog. We can safely guess that the owl had been disoriented in those conditions landing not far from what is an ordinary and safe place – no more than a half mile from one of the islands in the bay, or the Samoa peninsula – but deep in a world of imminent peril. But that was the only problem – that civilization lurks in the fog. The only help this owl needed we had already provided. We gave him a lift to better habitat and returned him to his wild freedom.

A small owl who just wants to be free.

The indignities of captivity… soon, it’ll be over!

At the release site – hesitancy is a smart strategy. 

And away…

The last glimpse we had of this rare patient before s/he merged with the tangled bank …


As always, it’s your generosity that makes our work possible. Without you, there would be no one to answer a phone – there’d be no phone – when a rare owl, or a common songbird, or any of our wild neighbors needs a little, or a lot of help. We are close to 5% above last years admissions to date, and every day we admit more patients – from gulls hit by cars, to seabirds found starving on the beach, to opossum babies still coming in even this late in the year. Thank you for keeping us open, and for providing the only wildlife rehabilitation clinic on the North Coast, from northern Mendocino to the Oregon border.

Want to help? Great, because we need it! You can donate here to help us meet our critical expenses, or if you want to join our team of volunteers, click here!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/ Bird Ally X

 

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Cruelly Tricked by Glass, Songbird Luckily Lives To Fly Freely Again.

It happens every day in every town in every county of every state. It happens as frequently as 2000 times every minute in this country alone. A bird flies into glass and is killed. The accepted estimate for avian mortality due to window strikes is between 300 million and 1 billion deaths each year in the United States.

It’s one of the more frustrating aspects of being a modern person in the civilized world: almost everything we do is terribly bad for everyone else. Other than telling stories, making songs and painting on the cave walls, most human activity at this point is decidedly against Mother Earth. Even our windows that allow us the comfort of our homes while observe our beloved backyards kill ceaselessly.

And such was nearly the case for this Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius). The adult male hit a window in a neighborhood close to the Arcata Community Forest. Varied Thrushes are common winter residents on the Redwood Coast, which is at the southern end of their range. While they don’t summer here, preferring more northern forests for the tasks of rearing their young, by mid-September their beautiful and haunting song is a familiar reminder that the mysterious months of darkness and rain have returned.

This bird was stunned by his collision and was easily picked up by the compassionate people who found him. Soon he had regained his wits and was trying to fly. In the past, a common recommendation was to give the victim of a window strike a safe place to re-group and if she or he recovered and flew off, well so much the better… Now however we have changed that advice. We recommend that the victim be picked up and brought to our clinic.

Brain hemorrhaging is the most common killer of window injured birds. A bird who appears to have recovered and flown off, might be flying off to his death. We give window strike victims a 24 period of observation, preventative anti-inflammatory medicine, and a safe place to eat, drink and regain senses. After a day of observation, if all systems are go, we then return them near their rescue site to their wild freedom.

And this is what happened for this Varied Thrush. Even though he’d flown around our examination room during his admission procedure, we kept him 24 hours. The next day, with a slightly fuller belly (they don’t call them mealworms for nothing!) and exhibiting strong flight, we took him to the Arcata Community Forest and gave him his second chance.

Not all of our patients are so quickly turned around. Many require much longer care, some even less. But what each one requires is that we are here, open and ready to do what needs to be done for each wild neighbor in need.

Your generosity and love for the wild keeps our doors open. As we near 1000 patients treated in 2017, running close to 5% above any year previously, we need your support more than ever. Please donate today! Thank You!!

For more information on how you can prevent bird collision with windows, check out these resources:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/why-birds-hit-windows-and-how-you-can-help-prevent-it/

Solutions to Birds Hitting Windows

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The Era of Climate Disruption and Caring for the Wild

As I write this, Hurricane Ophelia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, is making landfall on Ireland’s southwest coast as a category one storm. An actual hurricane hasn’t reached the shores of Ireland since 1961.

Meanwhile, Houston has been buried under Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented 60 inches of rain. Puerto Rico has been devastated by category 4 storm, Hurricane Maria. And much closer to home, for us, wildfires more typical of Southern California are currently burning in communities north of the Golden Gate Bridge, with a cost in human lives currently at 40 people, with thousands of structures, including homes and businesses, destroyed, tens of thousands of acres scorched, and nearly 50,000 people evacuated, waiting to learn if they still have a home.

This is the new normal.

And we’ve seen it coming for a long time now…

Bird Ally X was founded by people who had extensive experience working in the relatively well-funded field of oiled wildlife response. While more financial support would’ve made the care we provided better by allowing us to employ and train more staff in the delicate art and science of oiled seabird care, still we had resources and materials at hand that enabled us to do what we needed to do in order to get the greatest number of spill-impacted wild animals back to their lives… The reason we had this funding was because of a few simple laws that mandate that oil polluters have to pay for the rehabilitation and restoration of the natural “resources” that are damaged by a spill. Without that law, no oil company would spend a dime cleaning up their mess – an obvious truth.

What prompted the founding of Bird Ally X was our concern that the skills and protocols we’d developed and were continuing to refine were not going to survive the coming ecological crises that we could all see looming on the horizon. Why? The answer is simple. Money.

As storms intensify, as wildfires rage, as oceans rise, as temperatures climb, as human refugees flee their uninhabitable homes, the legally mandated resources available for wild animals in need, scant now, will evaporate.

Right now, humane politics, ordinary civilized things such as healthcare and support for our neighbors less fortunate are under attack. Right now war is being waged across the world in a grab for hegemony that is stupidly sold and pitifully purchased as a war against a religion and culture. Right now, we have an actual known sexual assailant in office as the President of the Untied States. Neo-nazis parade in the streets! Socially these are the worst times since the fall of the Weimar Republic. The demands on our attention are extreme, but the demands come from places that no one wants to see.

We live in an age of terrifying distraction. Scattered, we move from one calamity to the next at breakneck speed. It is hard to face the actual world, even if we are remote from the worst scenes of destruction, or distant from the crimes perpetrated against those who are targets of hatred, who’ve suffered thefts of land, resources, – thefts of lives.

As I write this the commonwealth, our shared ownership of the natural world, shrinks. What was our natural heritage is now converted to cash and moved into the wealthiest hands as quickly as possible without regard for what is lost. On the day that I write this, dozens of species will go extinct. No one knows the future, but we can no longer can refute the doomsayer, the Cassandra, the catastrophist. Our world is in a mass extinction event, the sixth in the history of the Earth, this time caused by the industrial world.

This is the world in which our hopes, our desires, our loved ones, our futures all live. This is the world that we founded Bird Ally X to address. No matter how disastrous, no matter how dire, no matter how precarious, no matter how despoiled, no matter how poor our society becomes, some of us will be needed to provide care for innocent wild lives who are caught in the maelstrom of human-caused catastrophe.

BAX is founded on the idea that knowledge of how to care for injured and orphaned wild neighbors needs to be widespread – that as the center cannot hold, centralized knowledge needs to disperse or be lost. As the situation for cities and industry becomes more dire, resources that are put toward the care of anthropogenic injured and orphaned wild animals, will dwindle. The economic burden of cleaning up their messes will overwhelm industries if forced to pay. The high costs of protecting human infrastructure from the predictable and predicted results of petroleum and coal fueled industrialization – that is, everything from vaccinations to seawalls to geo-engineered climate solutions – will absorb everything.

Already we struggle daily to keep our small wildlife hospital open. It’s clear that as climate disruption’s effects worsen and accumulate, raising the support to continue to operate in a professional manner will become harder, not easier.

At Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we have the challenge and opportunity to work on all aspects of our mission. So far in 2017 we’ve treated nearly 950 wild animals. Year to date 2017 has brought our heaviest caseload with patients coming from as far away as Ukiah, Redding, and southern Oregon. We’ve already surpassed the total caseload of 2013 and all other years are bound to be beaten as well.

Our facility not only provides care for this always increasing caseload, but it it also functions as a working model for accomplishing high quality care with a very slender budget. Obviously one way that we manage to get our bills paid is to rely on volunteers – if every crucial member of our team received financial compensation, we would shortly have no money for food or medicine. So we struggle with one full-time staff person and one part-time.

The most critical way that we keep our expenses down is to improvise solutions with what we have at hand. We’ve built our facility with re-purposed materials that were found or acquired by donation or inexpensively, even though we’ve modeled it from facilities where we’ve worked and trained that cost over a million dollars to build. Not only do we meet the immediate mission of providing care for our region’s injured and orphaned wild animals in this way, but we have the chance to find solutions that can be demonstrated to colleagues and future colleagues all along the coast and everywhere that our workshops and publications reach – which helps ensure that quality care can be given regardless of what financial resources any of our colleagues might have or have not.

An oprhaned Steller’s Jay, helpless, would have nowhere to go without the support of our community who keeps our doors open!


Ensuring that wild animals will be cared for even into the next century, regardless of the conditions that our society or people in general face, is the lasting reason that BAX was founded – and after the direct care that we provide to each individual animal who we admit at HWCC, is our most important task.

In 2009, when BAX was founded, the future that we wished to address seemed yet to come. Now, eight years later, we are wading in those waters while the flood still advances. The first test of our ability to meet this mission now will be our ability to keep HWCC functioning as a fully equipped and staffed wildlife hospital. 2017 has been a difficult year for many non-profit organizations. We’ve had many donors apologize for not sending money due to the vastly increased demands on their resources to help with the global calamities and disastrous turn of the political situation in the USA.

In this, our busiest year, our year of making the most difference for our wild neighbors, donations are at their lowest! 2017 has been a very stressful and frightening year for so many, and we count ourselves among them.

Arguing for the necessity of wildlife rehabilitation has always been a challenge, though our work is deeply appreciated by all who’ve found an injured or orphaned wild animal, or relied on us for helping humanely resolve a conflict with one of their wild neighbors. Wild animals are among the most marginalized. One only needs to consider the regularity of such scenes as a raccoon killed by a vehicle and left to decompose by the side of the road to know this is true.

As stresses to daily civil life mount, it will be our job to keep the innocent wild victims in our community’s thoughts, and supported by our neighbor’s shared resources.

Our world got this way in large measure due to the briefly victorious view that sees the dollars but not the tree, that sees the fertile soil of the river bottom, but not the wild community that requires it to survive. If human beings are to be a part of the real world, the wild world that comes next, then we will have to ensure that love for this wild, real world and all of her inhabitants is nurtured now. We’ll have to ensure that the skills we learned while resources were plentiful are preserved as they become scarce. We’ll have to ensure that those who’s compassion cannot let them turn away from a wild animal who is suffering are supported.


Preserving our love and commitment to Mother Earth is a crucial part of preserving our societies. We cannot do this alone. We need your help. Please help us reach our critical goal of $5000 by the end of this month. We have rent, water, utilities, patient food, medicine, our two staff’s meager salaries, bills that linger from our hectic and expensive busy summer months… without your support, we’ll disappear. Without HWCC the North Coast will have nothing for wild animals in need. Please, donate today.

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Fledgling Marbled Murrelet Reaches the Sea Unconventionally

Early Monday morning the phone rang at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. It was Lynn Roberts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a biologist who specializes in locally threatened Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus). Tourists in Prairie Creek State Park, an important area for these seabirds who nest high in the strong limbs of old-growth Redwoods, had found who they believed was a Marbled Murrelet fledgling in the middle of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which wends through the park’s ancient groves. Lynn was going to bring the young seabird to our clinic as soon as she had him in her care.

Marbled Murrelets are one of the most unusual seabirds. They make nesting in trees seem strange! While most seabirds nest on rocky cliffs and islands, in the portion of their Pacific coastal range that is forested, from Southeast Alaska to the southernmost point just north of Santa Cruz, B. marmoratus nests primarily in the high horizontal branches that can only be found in very old trees, the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and our region’s coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) as far as 60 miles inland from the sea. Parents fly each day from the ocean where they dive for fish back to the nest to feed their growing chicks. When their chicks fledge, they must leave the nest and make it to the Pacific on their first flight. This is a natural challenge that all Marbled Murrelet chicks have faced for millions of years and for which they are very well suited.

[Want to help ensure that Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is always open and ready to care for our wild neighbors in trouble? You can click here now to make a donation today! Thank you!]

However new challenges in the last 150 years have had a terrible impact both on the coastal Redwoods and their nesting seabirds. Approximately five per cent of the Redwood forest that was thriving here in the mid 19th century remains. What is left is punctured by roads, surrounded by continued industrial logging, and threatened by development. And in the ocean, climate change, agricultural run-off, plastic pollution and other modern disasters that have no relief in sight mean that B. marmoratus has no escape from the devastation caused by colonialism, resource extraction, and a culture-wide myopic disregard for the natural systems that sustain all life.

The endangered status of Redwoods (International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist) and Marbled Murrelets (IUCN Redlist, US Endangered Species Act threatened) increases the stakes when a young Murrelet is in trouble. While it is true that we treat each of our patients with dignity, respect and with the knowledge that every individual experiences her or his own existence as central, threatened and endangered species receive significantly more attention from the agencies (USFWS, CDFW) whose task is their protection when they are admitted for care.

For this Murrelet chick, given the cool and foggy night that the bird was found, it’s possible that the damp pavement of the road looked deceptively like open water, tricking the young bird into landing. Once on the ground, there is no way for a Murrelet or almost any other seabird who needs open water and a running start in order to take off to regain the sky. Were it not for the people who scooped the fledgling off the road, this is likely where the young bird’s short life would’ve ended.


Getting ready to go to Sea! Not how most Murrelets get there, but any port in a storm!


Instead, the youngster was found! And soon after calling our clinic, Lynn Roberts showed up with one of these precious and few ambassadors of sea and forest in a box with a soft towel. During the admission examination we discovered no problems at all. This young Murrelet was in good health and without any injuries. All s/he needed was help getting to the ocean. We provided hydration and a safe place to rest until arrangements for transport to sea could be made.

Lynn contacted some local sea kayak enthusiasts who volunteer with USFWS. They were ready and willing to take this bird out to a safe location just beyond the rocks and surf near Trinidad.

USFWS Biologist Lynn Roberts discusses with the volunteer kayakers where best to to take the young Seabird.

The young Murrelet is secured to the kayak for a paddle out to sea.

There are a lot of passionate, committed people working very hard to ensure that Marbled Murrelets continue to be a part of our shared world. In these trying times, it is good to know that compassion and love for the wild aren’t rare!

The Sea: home to Marbled Murrelets and mother to us all. 


It isn’t everyday that we have the opportunity and need to help such an endangered and helpless young bird find their way home. But everyday we do help whoever comes through our door. The day we admitted the young Murrelet we also admitted a cat-caught Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), a beached Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) found inside someone’s living room, and a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) who was found severely injured on the bank of the Eel river in Southern Humboldt County. It isn’t easy work. Often we have joyful tasks with wonderful results, such as the care we provided this Marbled Murrelet, yet just as often we have difficult tasks with heartbreaking outcomes – such as ushering that Green Heron whose injuries were too severe to successfully treat into the next realm.

No matter what our tasks, we would not be able to complete them without your support. Your generosity keeps the only all-species wildlife hospital between Santa Rosa and the Oregon border open and ready to help our wild neighbors when they’re injured by the machinery of our world. Your donation is appreciated more than we can say! Donate today! Thank you!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX

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The Shadow Chipmunk

Every wild animal we treat lives a life that is whole and complete regardless of size or age, whether covered in pelage, feather or scales, or at whatever speed they pass through their experiences! Some animals live for years and even decades (including ants!), some live for less than a month. Some live the normal lifespan for their species, some die very young. But it doesn’t matter where you land in the various spectrums, your time here is your own and freedom demands that you make it count!

One quick little animal who occupies a relatively small range in the West – which thankfully includes much of California’s Redwood coast – is Tamias senexor as this small member of the squirrel family is more commonly known, the Shadow chipmunk, or Allen’s chipmunk, and in the Wiyot language, Salás.
The area shaded green represents the known range of Tamias senex, the Shadow chipmunk, in California.


Found in our state, as well as Nevada and Oregon, the only area this chipmunk’s range reaches the ocean is here in northern Humboldt and southern Del Norte counties, between the Eel and the Klamath rivers. North of the Klamath we find Tamias siskiyou or, the Siskiyou chipmunk and south of the Eel is Tamias ochrogenys, or the Yellow-cheeked chipmunk.

Mostly arboreal, nesting in trees as far as 70 feet off the ground, the social Shadow chipmunk typically lives from four to eight years. Weighing less than 100 grams, the females slightly larger than males, Shadow chipmunks dash through the forests and forest edges. While no one knows how fast a Shadow chipmunk can run, other subspecies are know to exceed 20 miles an hour.


As always we need your help! Your support makes all of our work possible. We are completely funded by the generosity of our community! Please help! Thank you! Donate here!


Quick as they are, they still can’t always outrun those who also must eat to live. Coyotes, hawks, raccoons, bobcat, all hunt these quickly darting, always aware rodents. Even owls can pose a threat at the shift change each day between our diurnal and nocturnal wild neighbors. Among these challenges, and in this community, the Shadow chipmunk persists and thrives, storing seeds, enjoying berries and mushrooms, taking care of business on their own side of the street and working hard for the success of future generations of Tamias senex.

At Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, we’ve admitted four T. senex since the beginning of this year. The first, admitted in June, too young to be on his own, was found cold and unresponsive on the trail at College Cove near Trinidad in northern Humboldt. Sadly the youngster did not live long, dying shortly after being admitted. The other three, all adults, were each admitted in the last two weeks! As is far too commonly the case, each was a victim, not of a natural predator, but of an un-contained house cat (Felis domesticus). This rehabilitator/writer’s own Felis domesticus safely indoors.


While many are unwilling to accept the very real threat to wild populations that feral and un-contained house cats pose, or laugh off the damage seen when a beloved furry member of their family who is permitted to roam freely brings a wild victim through the door, as wildlife rehabilitators and as cat advocates, we must urge that our ownership of long-domesticated predators makes us responsible for the injuries and deaths to our wild neighbors that they cause. Dogs too can pose a threat to wild animals. There is no natural sense or justice in the slaughter of wild animals by our pets. There are many excellent ways to protect wildlife, keep cats and dogs safely contained and still provide our companions with a rich and enjoyable life. Catios, harnesses and supervision can all allow house cats the enjoyment of the outdoors and keep them and our wild neighbors safe! Search the internet! The truth is out there!


Of the three chipmunks admitted this month, one did not make it, and one is still in care with a good prognosis, and one was released last week.

The morning of his release, after a week of antibiotics and only minor wounds, this Shadow chipmunk escaped from his housing before getting his evaluation and evaded re-capture for nearly an hour while his pursuer (me) made a complete fool of himself. He was definitely ready to go! Watch the video closely, he makes a very brief appearance!

The fourth chipmunk is currently in care, suffering a few puncture wounds that by themselves would heal well, but were potentially fatal due to the harmful bacteria found in cat saliva. A week of antibiotics ends tomorrow and after at least a day more of monitoring, this chipmunk stands a very good chance of being released as well. We’ll update this post when we can!

A dose of antibiotics os administered – small but mighty, protective gloves are always a good idea when handling adult wild rodents! 
A simply wonderful tail!


From rare seabirds to Shadow chipmunks, we operate Humboldt Wildlife Care Center to benefit all of our wild neighbors as best as we can, and to always promote co-existence – live and let live! Your support makes our work possible! Because of your help we are here 7 days a week, 365 days a year, providing the needed care for our region’s injured and orphaned wild animals. Please donate if you can. Every dollar helps! Thank you!

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Hot Sparks of Life* – Four Squirrels Go Home

 *”The [Douglas Squirrel] is the brightest of all squirrels I have ever seen, a hot spark of life, making every tree tingle with his prickly toes, a condensed nugget of fresh mountain vigor and valor, as free from disease as a sunbeam. He seems to think the mountains belong to him. How he scolds, and what faces he makes, all eyes, teeth, and whiskers. If not so comically small he would indeed be a dreadful fellow.”  John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

On almost any day that you decide to take a walk in Arcata’s Community Forest, you’ll likely be scolded by a small gray backed, rusty bellied squirrel who will run headlong down a giant redwood to tell you exactly what you are doing all wrong!

Douglas Squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasii) are notorious for their harsh critique of the anthroposphere throughout their range of the Pacific Northwest. Has any human, or human’s pet, met with their approval? No.

Although easily seen in broad daylight, another of Muir’s observations remains true: “He is, without exception, the wildest animal I ever saw, –a fiery, sputtering little bolt of life.”

However, when something disturbs their den site, all the wildness in the world can’t save squirrels who are too young to survive on their own.

In the case of the four young Douglas Squirrels who we admitted in early August at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, a kind man found them scattered and struggling around the base of a tall Redwood deep in the Arcata Community Forest. We don’t know what happened to their nest, only that no parents were seen and the young Squirrels were lethargic and barely moving. He scooped them up and carried them to our clinic a few miles away on his bicycle.

Too young to be on their own, cold and dehydrated, we admitted them for care. Soon, after receiving fluids and spending some time in an incubator, they were active and looking for food. We started them on mixture of milk replacer and ground seed. Within ten days they were strictly eating whole seed plus a lot more!

After a few weeks in care, the four sibling Squirrels were moved to outdoor housing to gain the benefits of exercise and some relief from constant proximity to human care providers. 

After being weaned from a milk replacer, the youngsters were provided a varied diet that consisted of foods similar to what they would eat once they were free – a mixture of seeds, berries and mushrooms.

Rounding up Douglas Squirrels for routine exams is always a challenge!

We never underestimate the power of an angry Squirrel. Rodent teeth can really hurt!

After four weeks in care, our Squirrel patients were ready to go home – here is their living room. The person who found the Squirrels originally gave us detailed directions that allowed us to find the exact location – one more piece of the puzzle that will help ensure that these Hot Sparks will thrive in wild freedom.

Is anything more precious than a box of Squirrels? An HWCC volunteer prepares to unleash the fury!

The first Squirrel to leave the box scopes out the scene.

[Your donation makes the care we provide to injured and orphaned wild animals possible. Over 95% of the animals we treat were directly and negatively impacted by human society and its machinery. Your generosity goes directly toward helping right that wrong. Please donate today!]

The satisfaction of helping the wild survive alongside the harsh realities of human civilization is a reward like no other.

The face of wild freedom running fiercely through the Community forest.


Upon release, our volunteers noted that there were several adult squirrels in the immediate area. We are sure that we’ve successfully returned these youngsters to their family. Now with their second chance, which was possible because of your support, these youngsters will carry their fiery torch forward. Next year, they’ll have babies of their own and the seasons and our lives roll on. Thank you for providing us the resources we need to be able to help whoever it is that comes through our door. Our wild neighbors in jeopardy, whether an injured adult or displaced orphan would have nowhere to go without your generosity. If you’d like to donate, click here, – every little bit helps!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX

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