Wild Baby Season is Coming!

The earth rolls around the sun dipping first this hemisphere then that one toward the light and the wild animals follow suit. Summer birds have already begun to return to the North Coast. Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) investigate the old cavities where they may have raised last year’s young. Ravens (Corvus corax) fly though late Spring winds with sticks for their nests held tightly between their bills.

Mother mammals are on the move, seeking safe places to give birth. This year everyone is in  a hurry to bloom and leaf!

All of  this means that our busiest season is about to start. Each year we treat around 1200 animals. Nearly half of these patients come in during the months of May, June and July. While we stive to reduce the number of our wild neighbors who need help,  through public education and good phone consultation to resolve human/wild conflicts, still our caseload and our costs will predictably skyrocket in the coming weeks.

We will be reaching out to you frequently, asking for help. Financial contributions of any amount are critical. We’ll also be asking for donated supplies, like goat milk, produce, sheets, towels, vinegar and baking soda – all things that are crucial to our daily operation!

Nestling Swallows (2015) receiving their regular feeding – soon these birds would fledge into our Songbird aviary where they continued to be fed while they learned to fly and eat on the wing.  
Common Murre (Uria aalge) chicks, separated from their fathers at sea, too young to provide for themselves. Each year we raise any number of these oceanic birds, depending on the how successful the year’s breeding season is… last year we raised 6, the year before, 30.
Every year for the last 5 years we’ve provided safe haven and bits of mouse for a Western Screech-owl (Megascops kennicottii) chick found in Fortuna’s Rohner Park

Every year we care for several Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) goslings who’ve been orphaned by the highways that separate their nest site from the water. Parents killed trying cross US101 leave chicks scurrying in traffic – a dangerous situation for all. If safely captured, the young geese will come to our facility in Bayside.

The most common reason for young Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) to be orphaned? Their mothers are hit by cars while they’re still in her pouch. Each year we admit over 50 babies! 

Black-crowned Night-Heron(Nycticorax nycticorax) chick’s life took a turn for the worse when s/he was knocked from the nest high above the beach at Moonstone during a wind storm. This yung bird ate a lot of fish!
Every summer we save lives, preserve wild families, and give unfortunate victims of accidents and human intervention a second chance. This juvenile Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis) whose nest was disturbed in the Arcata Community Forest. An improvised substitute made from a basket lined with twigs and mosses was placed high in the tree  above where the young not yet flighted bird was found. Soon parent birds were seen bringing food and resuming care. Reuniting wild babies with their families is an important and frequent task throughout Spring and Summer.
Each year Raccoon (Procyon lotor) mothers are shot, trapped, poisoned and otherwise mistreated in ways that leaves their babies behind, often stuck in an attic or a crawlspace and left to die. When they’re lucky, someone hears them, finds them and brings them to us. Almost every single orphaned raccoon we care for could have been raised by their mother if only people would take basic steps to protect their property by preventing Raccoons and other animals from getting in, or seeking advice before acting irresponsibly and resorting to lethal solutions. Providing care to orphaned Raccoons isn’t cheap! Usually they are in care 4 moths before they can be released. Each baby costs nearly $500 to raise successfully and we raise over 20 of these curious Earthlings each year!


Every year our busy season has the added stress of paying for food and medicine, the water bill, the electric bill, staff salaries. Scrimping and saving is good and necessary, but so is knowing that our basic costs are going to be covered. It’s good to know that if an unexpected major expense comes up – like last year when we treated a lead-poisoned Bald Eagle whose care required six months of recuperation – that we’ve got it covered.

So, we’re launching a special Baby Season fundraiser.* Our goal is $25,000 between now and May 31. That’s 9 weeks. $25,000 will keep us going through early Spring and leave us ready to take on the most hectic months of our year with something in reserve, reducing our stress so that we can be better care providers. It costs us about $12,000 a month to operate during the Summer. Your help is vitally important. Without your generosity… well, let’s just say that we are grateful that you’ve kept us going this long and we look forward to your continued support. Let’s make this the best, least stressful Wild Baby season we’ve had. Thank you!!

*By the way, we are still a couple thousand short of our March goal of $7000. Want to help us reach it? Donate here. Thank you!!

 

photo: Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia

Pacific Pond Turtle!

Found on Samoa Beach, this young Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) was almost kept as a pet. Fortunately he mentioned the turtle to his veterinarian at Sunny Brae Animal Clinic and they cautioned him that the turtle is wild and needs freedom. They called Humboldt Wildlife Care Center and we went over and picked up the curious and active youngster. No injuries or illness were found on his admission exam and he was released to a nearby mucky area that from now on will be known as Turtle’s Delight!

There are so many ways to live on Earth! Some of us spend years wth parental help and supervision on our way to adulthood and others, like this turtle, are born ready

Even though we strive to maintain a professional distance from our patients, sometimes it’s hard not to just be bowled over by the cuteness!

Seriously, though, this young turtle came very close to having his life ruined, spent in a glass box. Fortunately the person agreed to give this turtle his freedom. Also, the turtle was fortunate that the people at Sunny Brae Animal Clinic knew to call us at HWCC.

As we enter Spring and wild babies start to pop up around our community, please let’s help remind each other to keep wild animals wild, and to keep wild families together (even if it’s a family of one turtle!)

Want to help us meet our challenging mission to provide care for injured, orphaned and misplaced wild neighbors? We’ve raised over $4000 toward our March goal of $7000 and need your help! Without you, this turtle and all of our patients would have nowhere to go when the chips are down. You can donate here. Thank you for helping us help our wild neighbors!

photos: BAX

One Western Grebe Improves Care For All

A storm-tossed Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) was admitted last month at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.

Western grebes are relatively common birds on the Pacific coast in winter where they can often be seen in the salt chucks, bays, lagoons, and the ocean, often in large groups, just beyond the breaking waves. We treat many each year. Last year we provided care for nearly 30 Western Grebes. 2014 was a bad year for these elegant aquatic birds – we treated 97.

Because Western Grebes are frequent patients, we generally have good results treating their most common ailments, parasites such as tapeworm, emaciation, and loss of waterproofing due to contamination.

In most ways, the Grebe that came in last month was an ordinary patient. Found on the beach in Trinidad, small abrasions under her lower bill had bled and soiled her neck feathers, which caused her feathers to lose their waterproofing. But that wasn’t her primary problem. Her biggest problem was that she is a juvenile who’d been facing her first winter of independence. This year’s exceptionally stormy season got the better of her. Emaciated, dehydrated, and wet, she didn’t stand a chance without rescue.

But in one critical way this Grebe’s treatment was unusual.

Many of the aquatic birds we treat are piscivores, or fish-eaters. Ordinarily, it is the protocol in successful treatment of highly aquatic birds who require pools to offer these patients fish with low fat content. Pool water quality is important to protect and fish with higher fat content has caused problems, the fish oil contaminates the pool water and in turn contaminates the feathers of the patient, which disrupts the carefully maintained waterproofing. In the wild, these contaminants lead to death. Oil isn’t water-soluble. A detergent of some kind is required to remove it. Once oiled, a bird needs to be cleaned.

Caring for aquatic birds is a specialized skill precisely because of their need for water. Pools, water quality, feeding techniques are each crucial elements in providing care, as are the efforts we make to protect our patients from the harm that can be caused by holding aquatic patients out of water. On land and inside our building, birds who typically float on water their entire lives, are highly susceptible to pressure wounds, respiratory infections, and other secondary problems caused by their time in captivity.

An aquatic bird housed in “dry-dock” needs protective wraps to guard against injures from even the softest solid surfaces. Even with these measures, the patient still must get back to water quickly.


Most of the techniques and protocols for rehabilitating injured aquatic birds come from oil spill response. During an oil spill, sometimes thousands of birds might be impacted. The techniques developed to increase success with such large caseloads is the basis for most current aquatic bird care. Generally we follow them with predictable and largely positive results.

However, something very unusual happened in 2016. The low fat fish we feed our patients, Night Smelt were no longer available. Our supplier said there would be nome until April, and that wasn’t even certain.

Fish populations across the oceans are in trouble, of course. Rising sea temperatures, plastic pollution, over-fishing, agricultural waste run-off, acidification are all wreaking havoc on the marine environment and the health of Mother Earth.

So, we got the fish that our suppliers could deliver: River Smelt, known here on the Northwest coast as Eulachons.

Eulachons are a very nutritious fish, with twice as many calories as Night Smelt. They are also bigger. Not so big that they can’t be swallowed whole by a Western Grebe (see video below) but five times larger than night smelt. Mathematically, it’s easy to see how Eulachons are a better fish to feed. Two 50 gram fish hold a total of 150 calories. Night smelt, at 10 grams each and 70 calories per 100 grams, require 20 fish to reach the same energy content!

This Grebe wouldn’t eat for her first week in care. She had no interest in food. She also had an injury just inside her cloaca, or ‘vent’, so it is possible that she was very uncomfortable when eliminating solid waste. In any case, we had to provide her nutrition via a feeding tube, a technique known as ‘gavage’ feeding – basically putting a fish slurry (a blend of smelt, vitamins, and a nutritionally enhanced liquid similar to a protein drink) directly into the patient’s stomach.
Gavage feeding is necessary when a patient isn’t able to self-feed.


Her weight during this period gradually rose. Our schedule for feeding balanced the needs of the patient to not see our scary faces too many times a day against the calories she needed to recover from her near death by starvation.

Typically aquatic birds require about 3 weeks of Night Smelt to recover from clinical emaciation. Of course there is some variance depending on other factors, including the personality of the patient.

[Your support needed! We are several thousand short of our March goal of $7000! Any amount helps! from $5, to $5 a month to $5000 dollars, your generosity goes directly to our mission of direct care and education. Please donate today!]

After the first week in care, going in and out of the pool, the Grebe struggled with her waterproofing. Her feathers around her vent were consistently wet. Besides for the confirmation that she might indeed have a wound healing just inside her digestive tract, her waterproofing issues were keeping her from spending all her time in the pool, which she needed badly. She had begun eating on her own and her weight was climbing steadily. The only thing holding her back was the persistent wetness around her vent. So we applied detergent to that area to give her a boost. Within a day she was waterproof.
After a week in care, she’d started eating on her own, and with our help, she was waterproof.


After 48 hours in the pool, we thought she was going to be released very soon. And then came a major setback. A volunteer went out to check at the end of the day that the birds in the pool had food and our Grebe was completely soaked, sitting on the little net (we call it a ‘haul-out’) we have for birds who need get out of the water. A healthy bird rarely uses it – it’s essentially a lifeboat for a bird who is struggling.

We pulled her from the pool, put her under a pet dryer and kept her indoors overnight. We analyzed the pool for what might have caused her problem. An obvious suspect, of course was the fish, the fatty Eulachons that had been such an effective food for her emaciation.
This is a very soggy bird using her haul-out. 50˚F water isn’t comfortable for warm blooded animals without thir protective shell. Aquatic birds rely on their feathers to satay warm and dry.


How fish are presented in pools is a tricky proposition no matter what the fat content is. Pieces of fish rather than whole fish are an oily mess even with Night Smelt. Our pools all have an overflow system so that any oils from fish or feces on top of the water are constantly being eliminated.

The problem was identified and we took corrective action. The basket we place the fish was not allowing water to freely flow, trapping oils. Every time our patient put her head in that water to grab a fish, she was picking up the oils and then spreading them around body when she preened, the time-consuming work that most birds must do every day to keep their feathers in good, functional shape. It was a simple problem, simply fixed.

We re-washed her. Within 24 hours she was fully waterproof. 48 hours after that, she was released, 300 grams heavier than when she was admitted, her wounds healed, and her life back on track. Her total time in care, with set backs: 15 days. The Eulachons, even with the problem, shaved a week off her recovery time. That’s simply too good to reject. So we amend our ways to accommodate the oil.
Using a very mild detergent and warm water, the Grebe was quickly washed. From here she was palced in a warm water pool where she essentially rinses herself, finishing the job. Another day of preening and she’ll back on top of her game. A hidden camera caught her as she works to reolve her feather issues in private. She also likes fish!


After another 48 hours in our pool, with modifications made to our system, she ate Eulachons and gained even more weight. After 2 weeks in care, she was released back to her wild freedom.





And then she was gone.  Our intimacy with her is done. She returns to her rightful place, out of our hands.


Right now we don’t have a choice. Eulachons, or river smelt, are what we can find. But even if we do have a choice, we’ll be sticking with the Eulachons. Our goal is to provide the best care, and good nutrition is cornerstone to that goal.

At our clinic in Bayside, with 1200 animals per year in care, we have the opportunity to elaborate on the gains made in aquatic bird care that emerged from high casualty marine disasters such as oil spills. We have the opportunity to develop strategies using our hard won knowledge to improve the care individual animals receive. Will Eulachons be a good fish choice to feed patients in an oil spill? Maybe, but we’d need to devise methods to improve water quality in ways that aren’t currently available. For individual patients, however, or for the much more common caseloads that coastal wildlife rehabilitators face daily, at our teaching hospital here on Humboldt Bay, we are doing the cutting edge work of improving the results of our care. Just as importantly, our efforts here don’t stop here. Through workshops and conferences we take the results of our work to other rehabilitators, demonstrating techniques and processes that they can use, on limited budgets, with limited resources. This necessary self-reliance seems to be the future of all rehabilitation work.

As we enter this period of dire uncertainty – with the Endangered Species Act under threat, with the Environmental Protection Agency openly attacked – in this terrible anti-bloom of the post-conservation era, our work is critical to the future of wildlife rehabilitation.

No matter how bad things become, no matter what night mare unfolds, wild animals will continue to suffer from human activity, human structures, and human caused problems such as quickly deteriorating ocean health. There will be those among us, today, tomorrow and as long as humans are present, who will be compelled to help. If we meet the challenges of our mission, those rehabilitators to come will have reliable information on how to provide good care.

Your support is the only thing that makes any of our work possible. Thank you!

All photos/videos Bird Ally X.

 

 

Experiencing Turbulence: The Rough and Tumble Life of A Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) are not typical. Through the Winter they prefer the rocky coast, foraging blithely among the smashing waves. Generally speaking, they’re unusual to see, not because they’re rare, but because waves smashing on rocks is not habitat that suits the human animal that much. Come Spring the Harlequin leaves our rocky coast and goes North to raise this year’s family in the thrashing and fast moving current of Arctic rivers and streams. All of this is why it took us a moment to identify the injured duck brought down from Crescent City in the middle of last month.

A female Harlequin, she’d suffered quite a trauma. Found among the minefield of rocks that makes up the beach on the North side of Crescent City, she had a severe laceration on the top of her head, and her left cheek was badly cut, part of her feathered face hanging loose.

Somehow she’d been battered. By the recent storms? By a dog unleashed? We’ll never know. We do know that she needed care and given her dark colors among the dark rocks, her small size and the vastness of the sea, she was very lucky that she was found.

The lacerations looked bad, but in fact, they were easily treated. Each of her limbs was intact; she was in  good health. We cleaned and dressed her wounds and prepared for the real task of her care: keeping a duck who loves the turbulent sea, fast moving water, and the freedom to dive against the rocks for her dinner of mollusks and crustacea in a calm pool in the middle of a small ranch a mile from the nearest saltwater.

Fortunately she accepted our diet of krill and small fish purchased at the pet store as a workable substitute for barnacles and tiny crabs.

A deep laceration on the Harlequin’s face would likely have lead to her death had she not been spotted and rescued.

While a Western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) is not one of her own kind, housing patients with others, usually helps reduce the stress of their temporary captivity.


After more than three weeks in care, she was at last ready to go home. Her wounds fully healed, in good body condition, her blood work good, we took her to Trinidad. We are fortunate with most seabirds that they don’t rely on specific territory as much as bountiful habitat. We didn’t need to return her to Crescent City – she’s soon going leave our region for the high Arctic. With a sheltered ocean beach that is just a quick paddle around the corner to the open swell of the Pacific, Trinidad offers an excellent place to release oceanic birds that is also relatively safe for human caregivers to reach.


Please help us reach our March goal of $7000. Now is the time to prepare for our busy Spring and Summer season! We need you. Please Donate Here ]


Here is the sequence of photos from her release on March 8.

Searching beneath the waves…

And finding food!

At home again.


And here we left her: to her own life, her privacy, her autonomy, her wild and mysterious freedom to be the kind of duck she is. Our world is a many-roomed mansion, and we enter few of its doors. Yet our actions have impact everywhere. Even the Harlequin must be considered.

An interesting article on Harlequin Ducks and the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil spill ]

From where this duck came and to where she will go, we’ll never know. Our concern, and what we can do, is make certain that she and her kind are able to freely live their lives. Your generosity made her success in rehabilitation possible.

Thank you for supporting the work of Bird Ally X and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. Your love for the Wild makes a difference for thousands of our wild neighbors each year. Even those who you may never see.

All photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X

 

 

Providing Critical Education for our Volunteers and Staff

While the most significant part of our mission is the direct care of injured and orphaned wild animals, Bird Ally X also puts effort into training wildlife rehabilitators and future wildlife rehabilitators. During the winter months, as our caseload decreases, we often hold workshops on different aspects of the care we provide our wild neighbors in need. Last weekend we presented a new workshop for our volunteers titled, “How Do Pools Even Work? Providing Critical Housing for Aquatic Patients”.


Discussing our Duckling Pond, used for orphaned Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and how it can be re-configured for aquatic turtles, such as the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata)

Learning how to keep water flowing through our aviary suitable for ducks, geese, Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon), Herons, Egrets (family Ardeidae)and rails (family Rallidae).

For the untrained eye, rocks and water, for the trained volunteer, each component here is critical to providing good housing for certain species of aquatic birds.

Complex patients require complex solutions. Safely operating an aquatic environment requires skill and knowledge.

Duckweed is food! Duckweed is a filter! And how that helps us in many ways!

Part of operating pools correctly means controlling waste water responsibly! The frog pond that neighbors our facility doesn’t want pool chemistry dumped in it. You can’t be an ally of wild animals without being an ally of habitat.

Pools for Pelicans, Cormorants and Gulls have their own requirements. Here we take a look at how water is recycled for this pool.

A well functioning “bio-filter”…

Keeping the pools clean does require some skills! But we all get the hang of it eventually. Practice makes perfect!

Each pool has its quirks. Here we discuss a small pool and how its principles can be scaled to accommodate different volumes and species.

Wrapping up and answering questions… all in all, a very successful workshop!

Our wildlife hospital in Bayside, California, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, provides a perfect setting for developing our workshops, trainings and labs – improving available care for wild patients is a critical part of Bird Ally X mission. If you are a permitted wildlife rehabilitator we can bring this workshop to your facility. Contact us though this website for more information. And if you’ve supported our work, thank you! You make it possible! And if you want to help, donate today! Thank you!

(all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX)

Tangled Up and Bruised

How this bird was ever rescued was the product of the two ingredients we rely on the most: the unlikely timings of coincidence and intuition combined with the intentional timing of preparedness. Early in the morning last Tuesday, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center staff rehabilitator, Lucinda Adamson, woke up early from a dream about seabirds. Now Tuesday is Lucinda’s “Saturday” – the first day of her weekend – and getting up in the early hours of the day and heading to the beach might not be the first thing she wanted to do, but she thought she might as well go have a look. So off she went, equipped wth towels and a net, in case she found any seabirds stranded.

The surf has been rough and the waves large for most of November – and our clinic has been admitting more seabirds. We currently have several in care, recently released several more and will likely see many more seabirds before the end of the year.

[Yes, we need your help! Every day of every week of every month of every year we are here for the injured and orphaned wild neighbors. From Chipmunks to Pelicans, we are ready to help who ever comes through our door! Help us meet our critical November goal of $7000 ] 

As soon as Lucinda got to Samoa Beach she found a bird. A Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) tangled in a lost scrap of fishing net. Scooping the bird up she brought him into the clinic just as staff was beginning the workday. Some mild teasing about working on her day off was in order, as we moved to admit the entangled loon.

img_4922On the beach at the moment of rescue -, any loon on a beach is a loon with a problem. If you see something say something!


Derelict fishing gear, improperly discarded fishing line, hooks, and lures are estimated to kill thousands of wild animals each year along California’s coast. At Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, we don’t see many birds entangled, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. This Loon was found early in the morning, when the tide was low, during inclement weather on a deserted beach. That he was found at all is incredible.

Fortunately, although both feet, both wings and even the bird’s head and neck were caught in the net, no injuries except for a few mild abrasions were noted. The net slipped off easily. After a quick examination, we realized that bird was indeed very lucky – no serious injuries, thin but not yet dangerously thin, and still very alert and strong. After the exam we put the Loon in our new seabird pool to test his feather condition. Again, he was in better shape than many – waterproof, immediately diving, able to stay in the cold water and thrive. Now all he needs is time to regain lost weight.

img_3640The small scrap of net that had very nearly killed this Pacific Loon.

palo-11-18-16-2-of-3A moment during the examination after three days in care.

palo-11-18-16-3-of-3In our pool, waterproof and doing well – with a good prognosis, this loon is beating the odds.


This Pacific Loon is one of the luckier victims of derelict fishing gear. Most die at sea. Loons that make it to shore are often so debilitated that their chances for recovery are poor. Less than 50% of our patients impacted by  are able to be released. If it wasn’t for your support – none would be. You provide the resources that enable us to take care of less common patients like this Pacific Loon, as well as pay staff members like  Lucinda, who’s dedication and willingness to follow her early morning intuition rescued this bird from certain death. We rely on you, now and always.  Thank you for your support!
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New additions to our facility. You can help! (watch video)

This Spring we’ve been adding to our capacity to provide care for injured and orphaned wildlife on California’s North coast. See our latest developmensts in this video. And please, help us help wildlife. We need your support! You can donate here: http://birdallyx.net/donate-now/

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Improvements that will protect Pelicans coming to Shelter Cove

Day 11 in our August fundraising Drive: So far we’ve raised $580 of our goal of $5000 by the end of the month. Your help is needed. Every donation helps. Thank you for being a part of this wildlife saving work!

Three years ago, August 2011, Bird Ally X began responding to fish-oil contaminated Brown Pelicans in Cresent City and Shelter Cove. Besides the 50 birds rescued, we noted that the infrastructure at both locations were the cause for the contamination. In November of that year we presented this information to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. It seemed that the situation would be rectified. A positive aspect of this event was our partnership with Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, which eventually led to the unification of the two organizations.

Unfortunately, in 2012, it became obvious that the problems hadn’t been fixed. We ended up mounting a large response, treating over 250 Brown Pelicans out of our very small facility in Bayside. Trying to get the discharge pipe that was spewing fish waste into the water of Shelter Cove stopped was very frustrating. While some modifications were made, the outflow continued. It wasn’t until Brown Pelicans left the area and headed north that the contaminations stopped. (read about our 2012 efforts)

Preparing for the Possibility of Pelicans: 2013The discharge pipe at Shelter Cove – July 2012 (photo Daniel Corona/Bird Ally X)

Bird Ally X/HWCC inundated with Fish-oiled Brown Pelicans! Again!
Dead contaminated Brown Pelican – July 2012 (photo: Drew Hyland/Bird Ally X)

North Coast Fish Waste Response (updated)
Brown Pelican released at Shelter Cove, September 2011 (photo: Laura Corsiglia/BAX)


Now, two years later, we are happy to see that the Harbor District is taking its responsibility for the fish cleaning station at Shelter Cove seriously and moving forward to stop the discharge pipe. What follows is a news story from the Redwood Times that ran this Spring… We’re glad we were able play our part, with your support, in bringing these needed changes. Thank you for helping us meet our mission!

Harbor District meets with RID and the public in Shelter Cove

Sandy Feretto, Redwood Times
Posted: 03/18/2014 04:21:00 PM PDT

On Thursday, March 6 the Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District met with the Shelter Cover Resort Improvement District and about 100 members of the public in Shelter Cove.

Jack Crider, chief executive officer of the Harbor District told the Redwood Times that the meeting addressed a variety of issues.

The Harbor District has a goal of eliminating the discharge pipe from the fish-cleaning table into the bay that has caused problems for the pelicans.

The first step is to eliminate the carcasses, Crider explained, and the next step would be to process the water from the fish-cleaning table and dispose of it in the resort district’s sewer system.

The solids separated from the water and carcasses can be frozen and sold as bait.

Crider said that over the last year the Department of Fish and Wildlife has finally acknowledged the district’s right to remove and sell the fish carcasses from the fish-cleaning table.

Since the harbor district first discussed the idea, Patrick O’Shea, of Shelter Cove, has entered into a lease agreement with David Mollett, the owner of Mario’s Marina that included the commercial boat-launching contract.

O’Shea intends to upgrade “the green building” that is in the middle of the parking lot at Mario’s. He plans to sell the frozen fish carcasses for bait and fresh, locally caught fish from the building. He has been in the process of obtaining permission from the Coastal Commission, Crider said.

Crider went on to say that the Harbor District’s easement covers the public access road down to the beach for recreation purposes, the breakwater, and technically the Harbor District owns the fish cleaning equipment. There have been some improvements made to the breakwater, but Crider said they are having some problems with sand that will require maintenance.

The Harbor District also has safety concerns with the public parking at the bottom of the beach access road. The district will post signs at the bottom to remind people not to park there.

He said that the Regional Water Quality Control Board has asked the district to test the beach sand and water in order to determine the impact of allowing cars to drive all over the beach. It will cost the district about $10,000 a year and take two or three years to yield results.

Spring, Renewal and being an Ally to Birds

The suddenly boisterous and highly visible activity of birds is one of the joys of Spring. Swallows, thrushes, egrets, mallards, geese and more are returned from the South, often coming several thousand miles to nest here in Humboldt County. Adults spend almost everything to make the journey, preparing for the oldest song and dance; – the hummingbird’s dazzling aerobatics, the grebe’s water ballet, the Red-winged blackbird at the top of the tree trilling for company – all around us these birds begin the season’s work of bringing their babies into the world. Renewal and rebirth – the spark of life is passed on.

IMG_20130524_173835A nest of House finches brought to our clinic, Spring 2013 (photo: mmerrick/BAX)

Right in our own backyards nest sites are selected. Close to shopping! Close to schools! Babies must be fed, after all, and adolescent birds get only a short apprenticeship before they must shift for themselves.

Once the eggs are laid parent birds are tied down, busy and focused. Once the chicks are hatched, frequent trips from sun up to sun down keeping babies fed is the routine life of mama and papa. It takes a lot of mosquitoes to make one swallow and many swallows raise two nestfuls each year.

Fledgling birds think they’re big enough and jump from nests before they can fly! Parents stay near feeding them on the ground or in branches and call sharply when danger is near. It can take as long as a week before these youngsters really have their wings.

Birders and casual enjoyers of birds are drawn to their beauty, feathers and song. Unlike wild mammals, many species of birds live their lives in the open, for all to see. We may never see a Long-tailed weasel in our lives, but here are House finches feeding their young just beyond the window.

As lovers of wildlife we cherish the close view birds allow, but this nearness brings such risk. If we get too close we can scare a parent bird away from a nest leaving a young featherless baby to go hungry, go thirsty – even die! Our houses are built where birds have lived for millions of years and our cars race through what used to be pasture of bounty, grass seeds and insects and all manner of good things. House cats roaming the lawn thrilled to pretend they are on the savannah, stalking game through the tall blades. But their kills are all too real, and a parent is left to feed a nest of five alone – it can’t be done and some will starve.

It feels good to be outside working in the long evenings, cleaning up the yard, planting bulbs; – yet we might trim a few branches and a nest full of hope crashes to the ground.

As Mother Earth rolls the Northern Hemisphere back into Spring, it’s important and good to get outside and rejoice in our shared and beautiful life. Being in nature is the only way to know and love her. Seeing our wild neighbors renews our own lives. As Henry Thoreau famously noticed, ‘in wildness is the preservation of the world.’ Any grandparent or songbird will tell you, do not harm what preserves us. Enjoy being close but allow who we see the privacy and the space to simply be. Be mindful of wild lives.

DSC_0429mallBaby Mallards in the aviary they were raised in after losing their mother. 2013 (photo: Laura Corsiglia/BAX)

Things you can do:

  • Keep cats indoors, or make an enclosed space outdoors.
  • Don’t trim branches during baby season. Plants prefer to be trimmed in fall anyway.
  • Give nests a wide berth. Enjoy with binoculars!
  • Feathered young birds hopping around the ground are probably learning to fly. Help them by keeping kids, cats and dogs away.

If you’ve found an animal you think needs help, or you have a problem with a wild family in your home or yard:

call baxHumboldt Wildlife Care Center – 822-8839
Spring and Summer
9am – 5pm everyday

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