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


Ticks, Tock! Gray Fox Beats Clock!

A week ago at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we received a call about a fox paralyzed beneath a porch in the oceanside community of Samoa. Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)are resident on the long peninsula that divides Arcata Bay from the sea, inhabiting the dune forests and grasses. Although common, they are seldom scene.

Volunteers from the Care Center went out to the scene and found the fox lying still, barely responsive. Once back at our facility, she was found to be suffering from a quite awful infestation of ticks.

Besides giving her anti-parasitical medicine, we also removed as many ticks as possible. After wards, with fluids and food and rest, she was given a quiet place to recover. We were not sure what her ailment was, but the possibility of tick paralysis was an immediate concern. Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin that is found in the saliva of ticks and is transmitted to an animal while a tick is attached and feeding. Beginning with feet and legs, eventually the paralysis will spread to the torso and lead to respiratory failure, and of course death. The primary treatment is removal of the ticks.

Removing the ticks.

Only some of the ticks that were removed.

Her first night in care, after tick removal.

On her first night in care, her prognosis was extremely guarded. She was provided a safe warm place, and food and water. As we closed the door for the night, she could barely lift her head.

The next morning she was a different animal. Fierce and growling, she’d eaten her food, drank her water, and was unevenly standing on all four feet. We moved her outdoors to our small mammal housing. We provided her with an appropriate diet and left her alone.

Within a day she was running easily and scaling the walls when staff went in to clean or feed.

After a week we were certain that she was recovered. She’d gained 500 grams in 6 days! Her coordination was complete. She was fully capable. We took her back to the Samoa peninsula and released her back to her wild and free life.

Back in her glory after several days in care.

There are simply some things a healthy fox can do that we can’t…

Quickly removing her from the net: her displeasure is loud and clear. 

With a burst she is going…

going…   and at last gone from our sight, back to her private freedom.

At the time this fox was reported to us, she was in a countdown to death. Unable to move, vulnerable, and with a worsening condition, it is doubtful that she would have lived through the night without rescue. Our ability to act is what saved her life. Because of your support, we are able, even though our resources are few, to respond quickly to calls and provide life-saving care. This fox beat the clock because we had a running start, thanks to you!

Please help us reach our fundraising goals for this month and next. Our busiest season is upon us. We need to raise $20,000 by May 31.  We already have wild orphans in care and many more will come. They need your help! Please donate today!

all photos: Bird Ally X


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


Bald Eagle’s Suffering Ends

As we posted last week (original story here), we admitted a juvenile Bald Eagle for treatment on March 10th, who’d been in care at another facility since June 2016 after he was found at the base of a tree near Weaverville with broken wings.

It was apparent immediately that the fractures he’d suffered in his left wing had healed improperly for flight or even normal postures. We decided to transport the young raptor to Pacific Wildlife Care (PWC) in Morro Bay where BAX co-director Shannon Riggs, DVM serves as Director of Animal Care. Besides her general work as a wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Riggs is a very experienced orthopedic surgeon. We needed her evaluation and documentation of this bird’s condition.

Last Wednesday, Elissa Blair, who was once a BAX intern and is now a staff wildlife rehabilitator at PWC, and Humboldt-based BAX co-director, Laura Corsiglia took the bird on his journey south.

Shannon Riggs performs a complete examination of the young Eagle.

Restraining an Eagle is always challenging work. Just holding that much wild freedom, even in such a mournful condition, is a rarefied experience. It’s a lot to grasp.

Dr. Riggs prepares the sedated Eagle for radiographs.

A photograph of the x-ray…  

Even though we weren’t surprised, the results of the exam were devastating: a badly healed humerus, shortened by the injury and improper alignment; a nearly fused and immobilized left elbow; left radius and ulna suffered multiple fractures and have healed in a mess of twisted bones; and the bird’s left carpus (wrist area), because the wing dragged on the  ground for nearly a year, suffered a lesion that had changed the shape of bones that are critical for flight. Any one of these issues would prevent this bird from ever flying, of ever being released back to the wild. Combined they made this bird’s life a daily struggle with pain. With the approval of US Fish and Wildlife Service, the young Eagle’s suffering was ended.

When we open our door each morning to be available for injured and orphaned wild animals, we don’t know who is going to walk through … Each day brings new cases, each case brings new challenges. Every patient has her or his own story, their own needs. Some species, due to our society’s atrocious history of abuse, are more strictly protected. All patients however deserve the best care we can provide. While this Eagle won’t ever soar the skies above the Trinity Alps, as was his birthright, at least he’s soaring somewhere.

Thank you for providing us the means to do our job. Your support is critical. Our goal to build up Humboldt Wildlife Care Center into a wildlife hospital that is also a teaching center for the next generation of wildlife rehabilitators is well under way. Please help us carry our work forward. Donate here if you can. Thank you.

All photos: Bird Ally X/Laura Corsiglia



Five Downy Woodpecker Nestlings in Care

These nestling Downy Woodpeckers were rescued after their nest tree fell into a creek deep in the hills of remote northern California. Waterlogged but alive, their rescuers warmed them up and searched the internet for care instructions.

Unfortunately the advice they found was bad, which was to feed them a mix of cat food and raw egg… now each baby will have to undergo a stressful cleaning process.

If you find a wild animal that needs help, do what you can to get them to get her or him out of harm’s way, but please, before you provide any additional care, call a wildlife rehabilitator. Every species has its own needs. A trained permitted wildlife rehabilitator can provide the appropriate diet, housing, and treatment that all wild patients need. Don’t trust the internet!

Still, we greatly appreciate that these birds were found and safely rescued. If you find a wild animal you think needs help, call us! 707 822 8839

Bonus: here they are “After Bathing at BAXters*

*did you get that joke? let us know on our facebook page!


New Additions Coming! You Can Help!

Help us pay for a new seabird pool! Each year we treat over 200 Seabirds and we only have one large pool! We’re getting ready to build a new one and we need your help. Donate today!

Your gift helps turn lives around - this orphan Common Murre formed a bond with an adult patient, as both recovered in our seabird pool.
Your gift helps turn lives around – this orphan Common Murre formed a bond with an adult patient, as both recovered in our seabird pool.

We’re also putting up a new small bird aviary. Hundreds of our patients each year, from Barn Swallows to Western Screech Owls will benefit. Want to help? Donate today.

5:19 hummingbird re-unite - 05

Mention either of these projects in the comment of your donation, please so we can be sure to thank you specifically for helping us get these projects completed!

As always, thank you for supporting our work and thank you your love of wildlife!