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