Young Pileated Woodpecker Rejoins Her Family

Pileated woodpeckers (Hylatomus pileatus) are a common species of our region, but not a very common patient at all. In fact we’ve only treated 3 of these large, vocal woodpeckers in the last 7 years.

This young Woodpecker was found struggling on the ground. The person who found her was reluctant to intervene since he knew the parents were still around. He’d been watching over the previous week her early flights and learning to forage with her family. But when she was unable to maintain her perch on a nearby stump and feel to the ground, he knew she was in trouble, so he scooped her into a box and brought her to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.

Once she arrived at our facility, we found a relatively healthy young bird, slightly thin, who was unable to stand very well. Her left shoulder was swollen. We suspected that she’d collided with something. We started her on a mild anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medicine and offered her a dish of mealworms. We hoped the swelling alone was the problem, and considered that she may have also fractured her left coracoid, a bone that is part of every bird’s shoulder, which allows for flight. It’s developed far beyond the coracoid in mammals and other vertebrates. In either case, the prognosis for a full recovery was good, but a coracoid fracture would take longer to heal.’

Fortunately, the swelling in her shoulder resolved within a a few days. After 4 days in care,  she’d gained some weight, about 40 grams, and was trying to fly. We moved her to an outdoor aviary, where she demonstrated that her wings worked just fine.

Inside our large outdoor aviary, the young Pileated Woodpecker perches as high as she can get, out of reach of her human caregivers.

At her capture to be evaluated for release, after 7 days in care, her flight was strong and direct – exactly as a Pileated Woodpecker’s should be!

We took her back to where she was first seen. The kind man who found her met us there so he could see her release. HWCC intern Desiree Vang opens the box. Our former patient wastes no time putting distance between herself and her “captors”!

She immediately flew to the stump where she was found. It was obvious, that she recognized her old stomping grounds, – now that she’s two months old and all grown up!

After re-orienting herself to freedom she flew off into the woods – in a direction that her rescuer had seen her parents go just a few hours before. We’re confident that she was able to reunite with them for more time spent learning how to be an adult Pileated Woodpecker.

A last glimpse of this remarkable bird of the Northwest forests.

Right now, we are in the middle of the busiest year HWCC has ever had. We’ve cared for more songbird babies such as barn swallows and house finches, hatchling to release, than any other year. We’ve treated more skunks and opossums too. In the middle of it all, we’ve still provided care for individuals like this young Pileated Woodpecker, and others, who’ve run afoul of the buildings and machineries of the human-built world. We need your help paying for this year’s expenses more than we ever have. Your donation will go directly to the treatment and care for all our patients. It will also help us begin the repairs we need to make so that we’ll be ready for whatever this coming winter, and then next year bring our way. Thank you for being there for us in the past. We need you now and in the future too! Please donate today. Thank you!

all photos Laura Corsiglia/bird ally x


Rescued! The Luckiest Unlucky Raccoon Ever!

We take calls at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center every  day regarding a wild animal in trouble somehow. Often we can help over the phone, but sometimes we have to go to the scene. Last Tuesday, a phone call came in just after we finished morning tasks, such as feeding all our patients and cleaning their housing. The caller was distraught: a raccoon had gotten stuck in their warehouse. Somehow he was trapped behind a structural member of the building and the siding. Unsure what to expect, we sent two of our interns Lindsey Miller and Bekah Kline, over to see what they could do. After arriving Lindsey texted this photo:

Trapped at the bottom of a corroded post, unable to climb back the way he came and no way to move forward, if his paws hadn’t been visible it is doubtful that anyone would have ever found this guy. This predicament would have killed him.

The building’s owner drilled into the steel post above where the raccoon was trapped to gain access.

It took less than an hour to make an opening large enough to free the raccoon.

Once the hole was large enough, Lindsey pulled the raccoon up out of his jam.

She and Bekah secured the rescued Raccoon for transport back to HWCC/bax for an evaluation. At this point we hope that he will be in good health, able to be released right away.

The raccoon was uninjured. We offered him some snacks and observed him for a few hours to make sure that he was able to properly use his limbs and was fully capable to return to his free life.

Very near to the warehouse where he was rescued there was a suitable release site. Raccoons live everywhere that we do. Industrial areas, residential neighborhoods, mountain retreats… Raccoons are truly one of our most common wild neighbors, with whom we share so much, including a habit of misadventure.

LIndsey, after releasing the Raccoon she’d helped rescue. Wildlife rehabilitation interns get a pretty remarkable view of the world, not one that many see. Interns, volunteers, staff – all of us spend a lot of our lives looking, or trying hard to look, at the world through the eyes of our patients. We learn to see that the wild is always here, always near. We learn that at our very core of minerals and cells, we are wild too. It’s a simple fact that’s right here to be seen, and raccoons are just the ones to point it out.

Freed from a certain death, thanks to the compassion and the actions of the people who found him, our lucky unlucky Raccoon patient disappeared back into the wilds of Eureka’s first ward, just a few blocks from where he’d been found.

Your support makes rescues like these possible. Not all of our patients are cut out of steel traps, but each of them faced a certain death, caused in nearly every single case by some human invention, were it not for the generous donations you make, that keep our doors opened and telephone turned on. Thank you!  And if you’d like to support our work, just click on the donate button! Your gift goes directly to the care of our patients, and efforts to prevent injuries in the first place. Thank you!!

all photos: Bird Ally X



Mule Deer Fawns Released! (Pictures!!)

Fawn calls are the most difficult. When a compassionate person stumbles across a fawn bedded down near a road, or near a construction site, or some other hazard created by people, and with no doe in sight, it can be very hard to think they should just leave the fawn alone. If they call us, we can usually discover through questions and conversation the situation and determine if the fawn needs care. Convincing a concerned person to put a fawn back in what clearly looks like an unprotected location can be challenging, even though in many cases that is exactly what the fawn and the fawn’s mother need. Often however, there is no way to put the fawn back. The caller got the fawn from someone who got the fawn from someone, or a dog dragged the fawn to the porch and no one knows from where, or the person has had the fawn at their house for many days and now the mother is no longer nearby – in these situations, it often means a perfectly healthy family is broken up, but there is nothing we can do but raise the fawn as an orphan. But no matter how difficult these calls can be, the worst is when it is clearly obvious that the fawn needs help. The worst are when the fawn is lying next to her mother, who is dead, hit by a car or a truck.

[Our fawns are all Black-tailed Deer, a subspecies of Mule Deer, the deer of the West]

Fawns who are truly orphaned seem to be traumatized when they arrive at our facility. Sometimes it can take two days before the fawn will express any interest in a bottle of milk-replacer. Convincing a traumatized fawn to take a bottle of milk is the same task as consoling a heartbroken child, so that he can eat, sleep, and resume his life. In a way it forces the wildlife care provider to form a bond with the newly admitted fawn, an idea that is at the very opposite of wildlife rehabilitation. Keeping wild patients wild, with a healthy fear of people, is as important a piece of our work as providing a proper diet and treating wounds. So warily, we proceed with fawn care.

As soon as a young fawn takes a bottle of milk (in our case, goat milk donated by local goat-keepers – and lots of it! hundreds of gallons! thank you!) we discontinue contact and start to use a bottle rack that puts a barrier between us and our patient. Once a fawn accepts a bottle in a bottle rack, he is ready to join in with our “herd” – the fawns we already have in care who are housed outdoors, and who we rarely see during the four months it takes to wean them from milk to vegetation. But those two days of close contact early on, while the fawn puts them behind her, the care provider cannot forget what it feels like to have a young deer close, who suddenly decides to accept your care and your bottle and drinks hungrily after barely moving from her corner in 48 hours.

[Please help us pay for the expenses of our busiest year ever. Your donation goes directly to the care of our injured and orphaned wild patients. Please, donate today! Thank you!]

In contact only with other fawns, over a period of months our patients are gradually weaned from milk on to vegetation, “browse” we call it, that staff and volunteers collect each day. Young deer eat a lot of leaves! Toward the end of their stay with us this year, we were collecting several wheelbarrow loads each day!

Once weaned and when we are certain that they are eating enough each day to thrive, and their spots are fading fast, we look up from our hectic summer days and see that, yes, indeed it is turning autumnal and a deer release is imminent.

One fawn per crate, each is brought to the release site. We are lucky that a good release site, protected against hunting and full of choice deer habitat is remote but not that far from our clinic. A nearby pond, forest and meadow, and the presence of a deer herd make this a great spot for our youngsters to begin their second chance at wild freedom!

It’s a great moment when the crate’s door is opened and your patient immediately puts distance between you and her!

Once safely away, a newly released fawn stops to consider the change of scenery.

Another fawn bolts for the cover of the trees.

Another fawn turns to assess the danger her caregivers pose…

Six fawns were released!

After this fawn reached the pond he stopped to cautiously consider us.

Zoomed in, it’s easy to see that this guy just doesn’t trust us, even though we delivered him over 200 bottles of milk and scores of wheelbarrow loads of leaves. His mistrust is a terrific sign of our success!

Nothing brings smiles to HWCC/bax volunteers faces like giving our wild neighbors in need a second chance at freedom!

A healthy, independent wild youngster rushing to meet her own destiny on nature’s terms… this is always the best view to be had.

Providing a safe and healthy environment for our wild orphaned patients is a critical part of meeting our mission. Requirements are skill, experience, dedication, hard work and the resources to get it done. We bring what we can to the task, but without your support, your generosity, it would be for nothing. Thank you for making our work possible! Please contribute something today. Each gift matters in the lives of our wild neighbors.

All photos: Bird Ally X

One last picture:

This fawn, burned in the Carr Fire near Redding in July was brought to HWCC/bax for treatment. Sadly, after several days in care, this brave youngster succumbed to her injuries. She tried hard. We’ll always remember her.


Five Orphaned Raccoons Return to the Wild (photos!)

Even in a world in turmoil, some things remain constant. One of those things is the time needed for baby raccoons to reach an age where we feel their ready for independence. Our most typical orphaned raccoon patient is admitted at the time when they’ve started to become vocal (which is how they’re found) which is right before their eyes open, somewhere around 200 to 250 grams. By the time they’ve grown to 350-400 grams their eyes open. After 6 more weeks of milk and slowly introduced natural food items, as they are weaned from milk-replacer, the babies are fierce, active, alert, and extremely curious – like any bright toddler.

(check out other raccoon stories on our website! )

In order to reduce the potentially fatal stress of captivity (no one likes their freedom taken!) as well as ensure that each youngster maintains her wild spirit, at this point, we handle them very infrequently. This also ensures that all keep a healthy fear of humans, who, let’s face it, have a poor track record with all things wild and free.

Raccoon orphans typically start coming in to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/bax in early May… and 16 weeks later, in early September, those who were first admitted are ready for release.

Weight checks on raccoons who are nearing release can be challenging! Here HWCC rehabilitator Lucinda Adamson holds  a young raccoon gently but firmly while intern Tabytha Sheeley (facing away) assists with identification.

Once weaned, all of our orphaned raccoons are moved to a 14 day weight check. The reduction in handling does them a world of good!

Raccoons who are ready to go wait for their ride to the release site.

At the release site: tentative faces peer out. Caution in the face of novelty is the hallmark of being wild!

And curiosity eventually overpowers! There’s a whole wide world to explore and raccoons, intelligent, investigative and irrepressible, soon leave the familiar crates for the limitless cosmos.

One by one, the five raccoons emerge from their transport carriers, the last box that will ever contain them!

Some elements of the natural world – rock, river, insect, leaf – are familiar to the youngsters. Our raccoon housing is built to introduce wild orphans to many of the the resources they’ll use once they’re independent and free.

In this group of raccoons, two are siblings, but all five have been housed together since they were first weaned. Raccoons form bonds – bonds of family, bonds of friendship – just like many of us.

Soon, they all start to look across the river to the ever widening world.

They cross the river together.

HWCC/bax volunteer Skylr Lopez (right) and intern Tabytha Sheeley watch the young raccoons move farther and farther away. Like sending our kids off to college, releasing our patients after four months of providing their care is a joy that is tinged with sadness.

Five raccoons facing their future, not looking back.

We often say that we raise wild orphans – but we don’t really. We provide milk-replacer at the appointed hour for those who would still be nursing – we feed insects on a tight schedule to baby birds who cannot feed themselves. We keep their housing clean. We keep them physically healthy. But teaching them to be adults of their kind is something each orphan patient must do for herself. Each baby is given housing in which he can learn safely. We don’t teach them anything. We provide the setting for them to make discoveries. In fact it is the orphan wild animals in our care who do the teaching. Everything that we know about their needs, we learned from them.

Their teaching and your support are what make successful raccoons like these five possible. So far in 2018 we’ve treated over 900 wild animals – our busiest year in HWCC history! Your support is needed now more than ever! Thank you!

all photos (Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X)


Bird Ally X Responds to Avian Botulism Outbreak at Tulelake Wildlife Refuge

In the middle of August, on the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which straddles the California-Oregon border, ducks began turning up sick and in many cases dead, due to an outbreak of avian botulism.

January Bill, co-founder and co-director of Bird Ally X lives in the area and was asked by US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for the Refuge, to set up a functional wildlife hospital and care for the ailing birds. Marie Travers, another BAX co-director traveled from the Bay Area to help manage the response. Now, a month in, with hundreds of birds treated so far, from Northern Shovelers to American Avocets, the problem continues without abatement. Just as fast as birds recover and are released, new groups are rescued and brought to the growing rehabilitation facility on the combined wetland and sagebrush country northeast of Mount Shasta. So far over 170 ducks and shorebirds have been successfully treated and released. Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/BAX, which is relatively nearby, has sent supplies and staff to help out. Conditions that cause botulism outbreaks are expected to continue until early October.

We are asking supporters to help cover the cost of the supplies and staffing. The US Fish and Wildlife Service can pay for some of our costs, but not all. In the busiest year we’ve ever seen, we need your help. [Donate here].

A call for volunteers was also put out – you can read that here.

As a small nonprofit, we couldn’t this without you, the wildlife lovers who make BAX exist. Thank you for being here to help ill or injured wildlife, whether it’s a Raccoon family down the block or a Black-necked Stilt in one of our great National Wildlife Refuges. Your donations make this lifesaving work possible – it’s that simple.

A Black-necked Stilt in care, one of the many species affected by avian botulism.

Bird Ally X is working with the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges to provide care for these birds. We’ve mobilized to bring supplies and experienced wildlife rehabilitators to the response, to send some of our interns, and train community volunteers.


In the affected zone of the vast wetlands, rescuers search for sick birds. They cannot swim or dive normally but may be found struggling on the water’s surface or hiding in vegetation. Deceased birds are also collected to remove them from the environment and help break the cycle that fuels the outbreak. Rescued live birds are placed in a transport crate aboard the boat.

An airboat is used for rescue and recovery – a flat bottom makes it safe for use in shallow waters and around diving birds.

Huddled closely together, the rescued birds arrive at the hospital.



BAX co-director January Bill lifts a listless and weak Green-winged Teal from the transport crate. Despite appearances, this bird is alive and has a good prognosis for recovery with proper treatment.

The Teal’s eyelids are sealed shut as a result of botulism. January administers a saline solution wash.

Examining a Northern Shoveler.

BAX co-director Marie Travers examines a patient’s wing.

During the intake exam, rehabilitators assess each patient’s condition and decide on an individual treatment plan. Patients are given a temporary band and a case record is begun to track their progress.



Critical care patients

Botulism in later stages prevents birds from maintaining normal body posture – these are ducks are critical care patients. They are housed in a heated enclosure and are propped up with supports. When unable to accept oral fluids, they are provided intravenous or subcutaneous hydration.

Two Ring-necked Ducks and a Northern Pintail showing the debilitating symptoms of botulism.

Fluid therapy is an essential part of treating botulism. Patients who can hold their head up, such as this Northern Shoveler, are given oral fluids.

Preparing hydration and nutrition tubings.

A Ring-billed Gull is assist-fed fish.

Patients are re-examined during the course of their treatment. The Refuge outreach and education coordinator observes an exam.

Small easily warmed enclosures house patients until they are strong enough to move to pool housing. To reduce stress for the patients, the enclosures are covered to form a visual barrier.

An indoor pool enclosure, lined with anti-fatigue mat substrate to protect the patients’ feet in care.

HWCC/BAX intern Courtney Watson, prepares food for patients.

BAX co-director Marie Travers enters notes on a patient’s case record.

January Bill assesses the waterproofing of a Green-winged Teal who’s been swimming in a therapy pool.

His condition much improved, a Ring-necked duck swims in a larger pool enclosure enriched with natural vegetation.



Lead Refuge biologist John Vradenburg fits each patient with a permanent band before release. John selected a release site free of botulism, within the vast Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

These birds have come such a long way from the terribly debilitated state in which they were rescued – it’s a thrill to watch them fly, strong and healthy, back to their free and wild lives!

At the release site: healthy water, rich with aquatic invertebrates and duckweed, quality foods for ducks and other birds!



Wildlife rehabilitation is not just hard work, getting dirty, looking tragedy in the face and getting pooped on – it’s a source of joy and a privilege to be close to wild animals in their hour of need and offer real help.

Setting up housing in a hurry: BAX co-director Laura Corsiglia and intern Courtney Watson assemble the Refuge’s modular enclosures to create pool housing for ducks.

HWCC/BAX interns Bekah Kline and Courtney Watson traveled from Humboldt Wildlife Care Center to help at the site, putting in many days of long hours alongside BAX staff.

Bird Ally X is small organization operating on shoestring budget. Yet our mission is as large as our neighborhoods, our counties, our vast open spaces. The threats to our wild neighbors and places continue to mount. As always, wee need your help. Your contribution makes our lifesaving work possible. Please, donate today.  Thank you!!

All photos:  Bird Ally X


To Date, the Busiest Year in HWCC History (the times they are a-changin’)

More patients have been brought to HWCC/bax this year than any other year, so far, and we need your help. Reaching our goal of $12,000 raised by September 15th means our summer expenses will be paid. It means we’ll be able to make necessary repairs and improvements for the coming season and the wintering ducks, geese and seabirds who are our primary patients at this time, as well begin the improvements we need for next summer’s busy baby season, with its untold surprises! Your support is the only thing that makes our work possible. Click here to donate now! Thank YOU!

It’s been a hectic Summer, full of baby Barn Swallows, Vaux’s Swifts, Raccoons, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, baby Barn Owls, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Crows, Black-tailed Deer fawns, Common Murre chicks, an oil spill in Wisconsin and a botulism outbreak on the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge.

So far in 2018, at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we’ve admitted nearly 850 orphaned or injured wild animals. We’ve answered thousands of phone calls helping people choose the best action when struggling to co-exist with our wild neighbors. So far in 2018, we’ve admitted more patients than during any other year in HWCC history, dating back to 1979.
Two baby Common Murres we raised and released this year at HWCC.

For the first time in two years the local Common Murre colonies, who nest on the sea stacks just off shore all along the Redwood coast, had enough successful young fledge (leave the nest) that we actually ended up treating a few who got into trouble. In 2016 and 2017 we admitted no babies at all, so while we never want to see young birds orphaned, the fact that some were separated from their fathers means that others were probably fine, a nice reversal of recent times.

House finches, whose nest was destroyed by badly timed pruning, were raised as hatchlings until old enough to be released. Still on the formula that we feed these strict granivores (seed-eaters) in this photo, soon they were finding their own food and wanted nothing more to do with us.We raised two Western Tanager  babies this year, the first we’ve had in our care in over 7 years! (and that’s HWCC/bax’s indispensible Assistant Rehabilitation Manager, Lucinda Adamson’s capable hand offering the worm!)When workers at PG&E replaced an old utility pole in Blue Lake they were surprised to find five nestling Chestnut-sided Chickadees in a cavity at the top end of the pole. For three weeks we made frequent trips to the aviary to make sure they had all the mealworms they could swallow.
Four Brewer’s Blackbirds were found along a drainage ditch in Loleta. While such an odd place is a normal nesting area for these birds, the closeness to the road was more than the compassionate rescuer could take. Unable to find their parents, we raised them until they could be fostered to a flock of adults of their species near our facility.

A nest of Acorn Woodpeckers, above as featherless hatchlings and then as their colors begin to show. Now they are mostly self-feeding and are close to being releasable.

Our two songbird aviaries have never been busier. Right now four Acorn Woodpeckers, found as featherless hatchlings in Hoopa, are nearly ready to release – each eating hundreds of mealworms every day. Barn Swallows, Swainson’s Thrushes, House Finches, Chickadees, Swifts and more have occupied our other aviary. At the peak, we’ve been feeding 20,000 mealworms each week!
Because our patients need nutritious, healthy food, and because everyone deserves to be treated with respect, we offer the mealworms we feed out as good a life as possible in the short time they’re themselves, before they become songbirds, raccoons, opossums, or doves.

A very young orphaned raccoon is fed a milk replacer with a feeding tube. From when their eyes open until they are weaned  usually takes about six weeks, which is followed by another ten weeks learning how to be adult raccoons. Staff and volunteers who tend the raccoons in their housing call themselves “raccoonnookkeepers”, which sets a record in the English language for number of consecutive double letters (6!).

In our raccoon housing, fish is presented in an artificial river, fruit is hung on tree branches, eggs are hidden in fake nests, all so that our young orphans have a chance to learn what they need to know in order to succeed as adults in the wild.

16 orphaned Raccoons, now weaned from our milk replacer, learn to hunt, fish, forage and climb in our specially-built raccoon housing. Brought in as orphans found in crawlspaces, or attics, disrupted by construction, or illegal trapping, soon the oldest will be ready for release. Meanwhile, a new litter of “eyes-closed” tiny young raccoons was just admitted at the beginning of this week after their mother was found dead

At the height of our busiest time, we were down a crucial local staff member (co-founder Laura Corsiglia) when three of BAX’s six co-founders responded to an oil spill in Wisconsin as part of Focus Wildlife‘s team, capturing oiled wild animals, providing care, and also monitoring oil at the scene and protecting as best they could other wildlife, primarily birds, from becoming contaminated. Besides traveling to Wisconsin, one of our co-directors even traveled to Holland to help with an oil spill there that had severely impacted swans.
Two BAX co-founders, Laura Corsiglia (left) and January Bill, while scouting release sites on the shore of Lake Superior for rehabilitated oiled wildlife in Wisconsin.

Currently BAX is helping at the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge, where a botulism outbreak is causing harm to hundreds of waterfowl and shorebirds. BAX co-director January Bill is managing our emergency response, setting up our field hospital on the refuge, assisted by other BAX co-directors and interns from this summer at HWCC. As of today over 40 ducks are in care, and over 20 have been successfully treated and released. Still, it is feared that conditions that favor botulism may persist until early October. More on this response will be available on our website in the coming days. (want to help botulism victims? follow this link)
BAX co-directors Marie Travers (left), January Bill (center) and HWCC/bax intern Courtney Watson (right) admit a Northern Pintail suffering from botulism at the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge.

BAX co-director and co-founder January Bill leads the effort to rehabilitate botulism impacted waterfowl and shorebirds at the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge.

It’s been so busy that we haven’t had time to simply stay in touch with our supporters to let them know in depth what’s going on. Staff is strong and committed but we’re also tired. For this reason, among others, the return of students to school is good news for us! Old volunteers who know the ropes are back in town! We’re super glad to see them return to HWCC! They’re a big help at this time! Without the help of volunteers HWCC/bax could not accomplish anything. Our gratitude to our volunteers is immeasurable!

You can be a big help at this time too! It’s normal for us to be scraping the bottom of the barrel at this time of year – as our busy season nears its completion, our incoming resources can’t keep up with the outgoing costs of electricity, rent, water, food, medicine and critical staff. Your support at this time of year is needed more than ever. We need you.

If you can help us reach our goal of $12,000 by September 15, we will be able to close the books on this summer and begin to prepare for the coming season of overwintering seabirds and other common Fall and Winter patients as well as make necessary repairs and expansions for next year’s season.  [click here to DONATE NOW]

This year it’s become clear that predictable patterns are askew. We’ve recently admitted a young orphaned fawn from the Bridgeville area – the latest in the season that we’ve admitted such a young deer. Crow fledglings can still be seen as well. We’ve treated less than half the raccoons as last year, but three times the songbirds. While the future is as uncertain as ever, now we must  accommodate new rhythms, which means new planning for our capacities, from staffing to housing to the balance in our bank account.

We are in a new normal, as they say. No matter where in the world we work, wildlife rehabilitators are adjusting to a changing environment, and we are sorting it out on the job, as we go. Of course we can’t say what that new normal really is because the wheel’s still in spin and….

All photos: Laura Corsiglia or BAX staff


Avian Botulism Outbreak in Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge: CALL for Volunteers!

Bird Ally X and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge has an immediate need for volunteers to help care for wildlife impacted by Avian Botulism at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Avian botulism is a strain of botulism that affects wild bird populations, most notably waterfowl and is not contagious. This is an opportunity to learn the foundational skills of wild aquatic bird rehabilitation and help by providing supportive care for local wildlife.

Individuals who can commit to 1-2 week full-time volunteer days have the option of free housing on the refuge.

Volunteer duties will include rescue transport, handling patients for exam, preparing food, cleaning & preparing enclosures, washing dishes, laundry, and patient housing construction.

Volunteer requirements:

•Be sensitive to reducing captive wildlife stress
•Be 18 years of age or older
•Be in good health.  People who are immune compromised should not work directly with animals but are welcome to help with transport.
•Be able to lift 50 lbs.
•Must wear closed-toe shoes
•Ability to work as part of a team, be positive and have a good work ethic!

The working conditions are outside and may involve hard physical labor.  Please bring a water bottle and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

If you’re interested in helping some amazing birds, please email John Fitzroy, USFWS Klamath Basin, or January Bill, Bird Ally X @ 

Thank you!!!


A Fledgling Hummingbird is Reunited

Curiosity is the hallmark of childhood. Every day, for the young of any species, is a voyage of discovery. A child outside has no limits but her own between herself and the whole wide world. A young kid turns over rocks, follows a trail that leads under bushes. A boy finds on the ground a tiny buzzing bird and picks the bird up and carries the bird home in his jacket pocket.

Each year during Spring and Summer at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we admit more than a few young fledgling birds who were picked up by kids and brought to the classroom or brought home. If these birds aren’t injured and we can learn where the kids found them, we try to get them home, back to their parents, and their interrupted lives.

At the end of July, a young Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin), just learning to fly, was found by some children near the school in Samoa, on the peninsula across Humboldt Bay from Eureka. The tiny bird was in good health, without injury. After some careful questioning of the kids’ mother, we had an idea where the young hummingbird was found by the young human. So we set out in search of the bird’s parents.

Our admission examination found no injuries or problems – just a healthy fledgling bird who happened to be seen by a curious young kid while vulnerable during first flight attempts.

The dune forest where the young bird had been found.

Adult hummingbirds were seen immediately in the area.

We placed the fledgling on a nearby branch

Our reunite team backed up to allow the adults to feel more comfortable in approaching the young bird. 

In moments an adult female came down the fledgling and began to offer food.

One of the great joys of wildlife rehabilitation is the chance to reunite families. Too often we aren’t able to get young back with their parents.  In those cases we have good practices that help us raise healthy juveniles for release, but we don’t kid ourselves. NO one is a better hummingbird parent than a hummingbird’s parent. Making wild families whole again is as important a component of our work as the care we provide and the injuries we prevent through consultation and education.

What follows is a series of photos of the adults repeated trips to feed and care for the young bird that they nearly lost.


Caring for injured wildlife, helping resolve conflicts between human concerns and the needs of wild animals, reuniting wild families: each of these are a critical part of the work we do – work your support makes possible. So far, 2018 has been the busiest year HWCC has ever had in its 39 year history. We need your support now more than ever. Please, help us help our wild neighbors.


A Mid-Summer Day’s Reality

On any day of the Summer, our busiest season, we rarely know in advance which new patients will be admitted. The phone rings, a car rolls up our driveway, someone carries a cardboard box through the door. What’s inside?

Yesterday the boxes held a fledgling White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)who was chewed up by a housecat, a River Otter (Lontra canadensis) from Crescent City who’d died on the trip south to our clinic, a Common Murre (Uria aalge) found on the beach near Fort Bragg with a broken wing, a nestling Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) who’s “rescuers” kept him for most of his life. He was found in mid-June just after hatching and held four weeks before help was sought.

Like the River Otter, many patients die before we can help them,  while many more are too badly injured to ever regain their wild freedom and are treated humanely, ending pain and misery. And of course, we admit patients everyday who need our care, who respond to our treatments, and who recover and return to the wild.

So far this year we are running about 2% above 2017, our busiest year to date, and we’ve just crossed the mid-year point. We’ve admitted about 620 animals for care in 2018. And our pace continues. Today we admitted four baby bats and one raccoon who were driven to our Bayside clinic from southern Mendocino County.

But for all of our out-of-area patients, the top ten locations from where our patients come are all solidly in the heart of Humboldt County. McKinlyeville, Arcata, and Eureka combined are where 70% of our patients so far this year have come.

The top ten locations where our wild patients where found.

A lot has already happened this year. We’ve admitted, cared for and released over two dozen Mallards, several baby songbirds, and over forty young Opossums. And right now we have over 70 wild animals in care.

Mallard ducklings released in June 2018

Our Spring fundraiser in May reached 50% of our goal of $25,000. Thank you to everyone who contributed! While we missed our mark by a wide margin, nevertheless we did raise over $12,000 which we immediately converted to raccoon milk replacer, eggs, vegetables, electricity, water, rent and more. We’re asking again. We’re going to admit another 600 animals this year. To be ready for them, to provide the proper care, the proper foods, the appropriate medicines, the experienced attention, we need your help. Without you we literally will cease to exist. Please donate today! Every mid-Summer day at our clinics different from the others. No two days are the same, and our patients are diverse and largely unpredictable. Yet, in another sense, each day is like every other. Each day we open our doors and we answer our phone.  Each day we provide the care that we can and relieve as much suffering as possible. Each day we help some on to the next world, treat some who we believe we can help with a second chance and we work to prepare orphaned wildlife of any species,from Quail to Rabbits, care and education so that they can return to their wild and free birthright. Each day we succeed with some, and our days are filled with successful releases of our patients back to freedom. We’ll leave with this series of wild patients who got their second chance., thanks to your generous support.


An Osprey found wounded and unable to fly along the Trinity River in Hoopa, rescued and brought to our clinic by Hoopa Tribal Forestry staff (you guys rock!) need enough time to recover in our care, to regain her flightm, her sense of purpose, and to demand to be returned to her beloved river valley.

One of our dedicated HWCC//bax interns prepares to release the Osprey along the bank of the Trinity River.

Into the sky!

And away!

From the mountians to the sea in the course of the day: Early in May we admitted two juvenile Brown Pelicans. Fearing that this might be the beginning of another bad year like we saw in 2011 and 2012 with these iconic West Coast birds, we ramped up our readiness. However, unlike the rest of the Californian coast, we thankfully did not see a high mortality rate among juvenile Pelicans in our region.

After a long recovery, the door to wild freedom is opened!

Some part of us always soars with our patient.

In the last 7 months we’ve treated 18 Barn Owls at HWCC/bax, including these two young ruffians! We’d already been caring for the larger of these two nestling Barn Owl chicks when the the smaller one came to us from Lost Coast. As it turns our he’d fallen from a nest box that HWCC had installed nearly 20 years before! The young owlet was in good health so we prepared to return him to his nest when we realized that the family he was going back to would do a much better job raising his older hospital buddy. So we sent both young owls back to the barn by the edge of the sea.  It was amazing how quickly the larger owlet accepted and formed an alliance with his new roommate after the smaller guy was admitted.
Boxing the young owls up for travel. Transport of wild animals is fraught with difficulties. We’re as cautious as we can be…
As close to paradise as some will ever get, a small farm by the edge of the North Pacific Ocean. Our two Bran Owl patients will learn to fly here…

HWCC/bax volunteer coordinator, Ruth Mock, brings the owls and supplies to the scene of the reunite.

The active nest holds other small owls. Soon they will all be fledged into the great wide open.

Ruth places the birds back in the box…

Storm Petrels, tiny seabirds barely larger than a Robin, are frequent visitors to our region.  This small cousin of the Albatross, was found in a gas station parking lot in Crescent City after a foggy night. It’s likely the bird was disoriented in the fog and landed on wet pavement mistaking it for the nearby ocean or harbor.

Checking the feather condition of the small seabird after 2 days in our 1000 liter salt pool.

Cleared for release!

Another ocean voyager leaves the safe harbor for destiny!

As the season proceeds we’ll be asking for your support regularly. The 1200 wild animals who we admit for care each year, as well as the thousands of others who we help over the phone, wouldn’t be heard at all without you and your generous support. Please, donate today! Thank you!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/ bird ally x


A Crash, Shattered Glass, and a Falcon Desperate to Get Home

It was past closing time at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center last Friday, approaching early evening, when our phone rang. Typically after hours we let the answering machine pick up our calls as we finish the late day feedings of our many patients.

[Currently we have 62 wild animals in care! Please help us help them, donate today!]

Staff could hear the message: a raptor, possibly a Peregrine Falcon, had come through a window and was now inside a house, in the living room. The caller said that the bird was bleeding and that they wanted to bring the bird to us right then.

All wildlife care providers learn that there is rarely a convenient time to stop working. Our decision to close the clinic at the end of the day isn’t because no animals are injured or found as orphans overnight. We simply don’t have the resources to maintain longer hours, and besides, our patients need a break from us. Captivity is a terrible stress for wild patients and the presence of us, human caregivers, is high on the list of the worst stressors. But a bleeding bird in need is a strong motivator to work a little late.

Birds fly into houses through windows all the time. Each year we go on dozens of calls to help free birds trapped inside, unable to find the window they came in through. Not so typical, though, is that the window they came through was closed.

About 15 minutes after the call we admitted an adult Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) who had flown through the glass.

An examination revealed a strong and healthy female, over a thousand grams in mass, with a laceration on the top of her head and a smaller cut on one of her toes.

Her first night in care she refused her food, or perhaps never even noticed it. Often highly stressed patients won’t eat. Her thawed quail remained untouched. Single-minded in her desire for escape, she struggled at every necessary handling. We closed the two wounds she’d gotten crashing through the window and moved her to an outside aviary in the hopes that her stress would be reduced once outdoors.

At this time of year, it is likely that she has young for whom she still provides. Having left the nest, her young fledglings are reliant on her as they struggle to learn to use the tools of their trade. It’s easy to imagine that her determination that her young thrive contributed to her collision with the window. She is on a mission.

Windows exact a terrible toll on wild birds. From skyscrapers to small cabins, the shocking indignity of the invisibility of glass kills as many as a billion birds in the United states each year. [For measures you can take to reduce bird collisions in your home, click here] At HWCC/bax, so far this year, of the 517 patients admitted, 19 have been birds who collided with a window. Of these 19, only 6 were able to be released. Skull fractures are the most common injuries, as well as irreparable damage done to shoulders and wings.

After 48 hours in care, we examined her again. Confident that her wounds would heal without further care from us, and concerned that her frustration with captivity could cause her further injury, we released her back where she was found.

A large and powerful Peregrine Falcon, the fastest vertebrate on Earth, leaping into the sky from the box you’ve just opened can be startling, even though you are well aware of what’s to come.

The great mystery that surrounds us, the wild universe that’s as far away as our own pulse of blood, as near as the most distant star, is also our home. We are that mystery, and this Falcon is our kin. Your support keeps our doors open and our phone on. Your support is the only thing that makes sure that we are here, to give a determined parent the second chance she needs, after a collision with the civilized world, to return to her own family, and resume her own mission.

Please. Help make sure we’ll always be here for our wild neighbors in need. Donate today. Thank you!

All photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX