Burrowing Owls Dig Humboldt

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

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these owls, true to their name, live in underground burrows that they dig themselves, or in burrows that were  originally made by another burrowing species such as the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi).

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

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

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

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

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

A small owl who just wants to be free.

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

At the release site – hesitancy is a smart strategy. 

And away…

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

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

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

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/ Bird Ally X



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on how you can prevent bird collision with windows, check out these resources:

Solutions to Birds Hitting Windows


The Era of Climate Disruption and Caring for the Wild

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

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

This is the new normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Shadow Chipmunk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fawns of 2017!

Each year we are the only resort several Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawns have. Orphaned by trucks, cars, and sometimes dogs, young fawns are brought to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, our wildlife hospital in Bayside, California. A young fawn, often traumatized by the death of her mother, requires specialized care. Typically, young fawns are uninjured and their health is compromised only to the extent that they have been without maternal care. The sooner we receive orphaned deer, the better their chances for survival.

Convincing a fawn that a bottle of formula can replace his mother is no easy trick. And the danger, of course, as with all wild babies, is that our close contact will habituate the orphan to people, who will come to see people as non-threatening. Again, as with all wild animals, this is a dangerous condition. It is simply a fact that wild animals who do not have a fear of humans and human activity are at much greater risk of being injured and killed by people. So steps are taken to disguise the caregiver and as quickly as possible, help the fawn adapt first to the bottle, and second to a bottle rack. Once fawns makes that leap, we sharply reduce our interactions with them until it is time for them to be released, and they make the leap to freedom.

[Help us help wildlife! Your support is needed to care for fawns, swallows and all our wild neighbors in need! Support our work here, today! Thank you!!!]

Bottles are delivered at scheduled times, gradually increasing in amount as the fawns grow, and then decreasing as we wean them from milk replacer to greens. It takes a lot of leaves to raise a healthy fawn!

From admission at a few days old in May it usually is the end of August or early September before they are old enough to join a herd without a mother of their own. This year we released four fawns. Following are pictures from their care and from their big day of new freedom!

Just admitted. Despondent and still following mom’s instructions: Pretend you’re not there and they wont see you.

In care for a month, the gang of orphans form a indisputable bond.

At least twice a day fresh “greens” are offered. It takes a lot of effort to replicate Mama Deer and Mother Earth!

Release day! 

“The last you’ll see of me!” 

For next year we need to greatly expand our available fawn housing. This year we got lucky in the low number of orphaned deer we admitted. In the past we’ve had as many as 14! We’ll be increasing our capacity, but we’ll need your help. Housing that is large enough and protected from predators will take community support to build. As always, we ask you to please help us help our injured and orphaned wild neighbors. You can donate here to support our work, including preparing a better facility for 2018! Thank you!

All photos: Bird Ally X/Laura Corsiglia

our photographer:

Laura Corsiglia set up for the fawn release. (photo by Carol “the Deer Lady” Andersen)


BARNTINI! the 4th annual fundraiser for Jacoby Creek Land Trust and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center

Join us this Friday, August 25 for the 4th annual Barntini! – a fundraiser to support Jacoby Creek Land Trust and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/BAX.

With a Taco Bar, featuring fresh local ingredients prepared by chef Brett Shuler, local spirits by Dutch and Dewey!

We’ll have a tremendously awesome Silent Auction with items donated that are so terrific, so profoundly necessary in your life, that you’ll be begging to place a bid!

Live music that will have you dancing all night and burning off all the fabulous food and drink!

And all the proceeds go to restoring and preserving wild habitat and our wild neighbors who live there!

Tickets can be purchased here or at Wildberries Market. Tickets are also available at the door!

Come out for a terrific end of Summer party and help keep our wild lands and our wild neighbors safe!


Little Brown Bat: from Tiny Baby to Freedom

When the tiny, barely furred baby bat was found on a sidewalk in Eureka, it seemed that his barely begun life was already at its end. The kind-hearted people who found him, scooped him up, cold and non-responsive, and brought him to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in Bayside, California.

A Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) just a couple of grams in weight, we first stabilized him with warmth and fluids. Initially we hoped to return him to his colony and his mother, but we had no idea where that colony was. His rescue location left no clues. It would be up to us to raise him.

This species of bat matures fast and can be independent as early as four weeks old! Our task was to get him there!

Feeding the little bat in the early days of his care.

Getting older, his ears are large and his fur is soft! 4 grams of magnificent mammal splendor!

In this video you can see how much he liked his milk replacer!

It wasn’t long from this time that he was weaned from milk to mealworms. First we let him lick the guts out of dead worm. He rejected worm guts in no uncertain terms, seemingly with an indignant air: “I am a bat and bats like milk!” Within a week he singing a different tune. “Give me worms, lots of worms and forget about that milk!” 

After five weeks in care he began to fly. Our time with him was nearing the end. At his release we provided a small shelter with worms inside incase he needed them.

The moment before we opened the door…
The joy of seeing a young mammal take his first flight is a rare one indeed, but less so if your patient is a bat!

After several laps around the open pasture where he was released, we lost sight of the little fierce hunter of night insects! 

All bats, including Little Brown Bats, are often villified. While it’s true that bats are a vector species for rabies, the percentage of bats that actually test positive is very small! Most bats are perfectly healthy! Still, if you find a bat on the ground, or in a strange place, call us before you handle him. While it’s unlikely that she or he has rabies (no bat that we’ve sent for testing in the last 7 years has come back positive) if you are bitten or scratched you may be exposing yourself to that terrible virus and in either case we have to have the bat tested, which costs the bat his life. Call us before you act, and if you can’t call us, always wear protective leather gloves. Never let children or pets near a bat that you think might be sick.

It was  a joy to raise and release this healthy baby. It’s a joy and a privilege to help any wild neighbor. All it takes to make it possible is your support. In our busiest season, with our demanding caseload, we need you everyday! Please help us provide what our patients need. If we weren’t here this young bat would’ve been left to die a cold lonely death, on a sidewalk in the middle of bat-nowhere. Thank you for helping us help him!  Donate HERE

photos: Laura Corsiglia and Bird Ally X

A great way to help us help wildlife! and have a darn good time doing it too! Barntini!!!!


An Orphaned Jay’s Second Chance

As the only permitted all species wildlife hospital that serves  Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte and northern Mendocino counties, we admit patients from across a wide region that includes many isolated communities. We treat patients from Blocksburg, Ettersburg, New Harris Store, Weitchpec, Capetown – from the Oregon border to Willits, from Hayfork to the sea. Often we are brought patients from deep in the hills, and we never learn where they actually were found.

In June we admitted an uninjured Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) nestling from someplace near Leggett. We have no idea where exactly or how far from the highway she was originally found. We were told that her nest had been destroyed, but not where it had been located. Ordinarily we’d want to try to reunite a healthy nestling with her parents.

In this case, that would be impossible, so the poor little nestling, not yet two weeks old, would have the misfortune of being raised by us, not her own family. Of course, at this point, we were her lucky break.

,(We don’t actually know what sex this bird is – we’re calling her female for the writer’s convenience and our refusal to call a living being ‘it’.) 

Admission day. Getting a first exam and an i.d. bracelet. Her feathers are growing in.

For her first ten days in care, she was hand fed a regular diet of insects, berries, and small bits of fish. As soon as she was able to feed herself, after nearly three weeks in care, our schedule was reduced until she no longer wanted anything to do with the food we offered by hand.
In our aviary, after 5 weeks, she is the size of an adult, with all of her feathers, self-feeding, and fully flighted!

The last time she’ll be handled! She passed her release evaluation with flying colors!

After 5 weeks in various sized boxes, from transport carriers to aviaries, she is at last free again, enjoying a second chance. Does she know how close she came to leaving this world before she’d really entered it? Who knows. But now she surveys her wide world from the safety of high and distant branch in a grove of Redwoods.
Ruth, our volunteer coordinator surveys our young champion surveying her new freedom! Would like to help a wild animal get a second chance? Submit an application through our website and Ruth will contact you to get you started as a volunteer at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center!

With your support, this Jay and the hundreds of wild animals, injured and orphaned, that we treat each Spring and Summer are given a second chance. Right now we are deep in our busiest time, and resources are as scarce as ever. We need your help now. Please donate today if you can. Thank you!


A Summer Like No Other! So Many Mammals!

2017 has been unusual. While it’s perfectly normal right now, in the height of our Spring and Summer wild baby season, that we’re very busy with a huge demand on our resources, what’s strange is the number of baby mammals we’ve admitted. Typically our patient caseload is 75% birds, and 25% mammals, with only a few reptiles such as snakes, lizards and turtles admitted for care, year in and year out. This year though we’ve seen a large increase in orphaned baby mammals. Instead of 25%, we are at 39% mammals for 2017 to date!

In part this is because we’ve started to accept more wild babies from northern Mendocino County, where permitted wildlife rehabilitators are scarce. (But there is one! Shout out to Ronnie James of Woodlands Wildlife near Fort Bragg!) That counts for less than a dozen raccoons however and not a 16% increase. So what else might be the cause? We don’t know.

What we do know is that we are as active as ever helping people resolve wildlife/human conflicts peacefully and keeping wild families together. This has been the wettest year in six years of keeping our digital database. Between loss of habitat, encroachment on the wild, increased traffic and of course the great destabilizer, climate change, it’s nearly impossible to know at this time what exactly is happening. Every day we get calls about stranded or orphaned youngsters in need of help. Every day we hear about dead wild mothers on the highway.

Every story of the wild animals we treat has heartbreak in it. This adult Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a nursing mom. She was hit by a car and found on the side of the road on the north side of Crescent City. Her first week in care, she was barely aware of her surroundings or the handling she endured while we proved supportive care. 

Gradually she regained her wits. As soon as she could stand and walk, we moved her to an outdoor enclosure where her agility and alertness began to quickly return.

Her wariness on the day of her release examination was a welcome sight. As she tried to evade capture she demonstrated a crucial intelligence and bravery that she will need when she’s home in the wild.

This net capture is the last indignity that she must face before freedom!

Her release very near her rescue site: the mother Fox takes a cautious moment to look around.

And then she breaks for it! – into the hedgerow, into the tangled bank!

And she is gone, back into her realm, her freedom – out of our grasp and away from our gaze. The luck of being found and rescued saved her life. It is impossible, knowing she was a nursing mother, to not acknowledge her kits, as many as four of them, who died without her care after she was hit by the car. But she is in great health otherwise, a strong and muscular vixen, who has lived to raise another family. 

How do we provide this care to our region’s injured and orphaned wild animals, every day of the year? Easy. Only with your support. Please donate today. Our Season is only half way through! We need your help! Donate Now.

So far this season we’ve admitted twice as many juvenile Striped Skunks(Mephitis mephitis) than in any year previously!

While it is easy to avoid getting sprayed during care procedures, such as weight checks and other examinations of our young skunk patients, there is still a psychological barrier to overcome when handling them. Fortunately at this age, their defensive spray is fairly mild.

In our skunk housing, youngsters learn to dig for insects, eat meat, and hide from threats, among other skills they will need to succeed as adults. Your support makes our facility possible! Thank you! 

A young skunk from this year’s babies smells freedom again, and it is sweet.

A very unusual patient! We treat many bats year ’round, but this is only the second time in 6 years that we’ve admitted a very young Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus). This little bat came in nearly fur-less, eyes closed and in need of regular formula feedings. We were unable to locate his colony and return him, so we raised him at our clinic. Now weaned and eating strictly insects, soon he will begin flying, and soon after that he will be free. 

Brush rabbits(Sylvilagus bachmani) are often victims of house cats, especially when they are very young and first out of the nest…  this baby succumbed to the infection caused by the cat bites he received. Free-roaming cats take a terrible toll on young wild animals. 

Almost every Black-tailed Deer fawn (Odocoileus hemionus) that we treat has been traumatized. Usually found along the side of the road with their dead mother, they come in to care obviously depressed. It can take real effort and convincing to get a fawn who has just seen their mother killed by a vehicle to accept a bottle. For the past two years we have been feeding goat milk instead of formula with good results. Availability is much improved and we receive occasional donations of fresh milk from our neighbors who have goats! Thanks to everyone who has donated goat milk!

Housed outside we keep a distance from these fawns, providing them with fresh leaves every day supplemented with milk fed in a blind bottle rack. When they are weaned we begin planning their release. Most fawns that we receive calls about are actually fine and don’t need rescue! Like with Rabbits, Does park their babies someplace safe while they forage, returning now and again to nurse. If you see a fawn lying in the grass, simply back away and give them space. Unless a dead mother is seen, in nearly all cases she is nearby watching. As always, if you are unsure, give us a call and we can help you figure out what’s best.

We currently have 20 Raccoons  (Procyon lotor) in care. Labor intensive, hungry and with an insatiable curiosity that makes housing them for the duration of their care a challenge, Raccoons are one of our more common patients. Uncommonly intelligent, steps to preserve their wildness are critical to their success. A raccoon unafraid of a back porch is soon going to be in serious trouble. Many people have no qualms about trapping and killing these hot sparks of wild life. The world as it is needs as much intelligence as it can find. Help keep the world safe for these natural geniuses. Don’t leave food or pet food outside, keep your garbage secure – all wildlife will benefit from these steps.

Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) were once considered non-native on the West coast of North America, thought to have been introduced by immigrants from the East. Now it’s not so certain. Native to the areas of northern Mexico directly South of their current West coast range, it is considered possible and even likely that their range has expanded on their own steam as they migrate and spread into habitat that suits them. Short-lived (most wild opossums live no more than 4 years) these unobtrusive, nocturnal animals, North America’s only marsupial, are the mammal most often cared for in California. Litters often have ten or more babies. When a mother is hit by a car, she often has a pouch full of nursing youngsters. Opossums are on the go all night long. Be vigilant when driving!

Young opossums in the first stages of learning to feed themselves are offered a dish of the same formula that they are fed on schedule. Soon we’ll add egg, squash, and then bits of  slivered fish. Preparing healthy wild diets is one of the pleasures of our work. Your support makes it possible!

In their outdoor housing, young Opossums  learn to climb, recognize appropriate food, exercise, and dig for insects. As soon as they are the right weight and exhibit the necessary skills, they venture out into the world, making their way. If you see an opossum, remember, we are each sojourners in this world, and there are none abiding… Give an opossum a break. It is impossible to order the parts of the universe by most and least important. Let’s help each other not make the foolish mistake of thinking we can! 

A tiny Deer Mouse is fed formula. The humble Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is native over much of the western continent. Only occasionally do we treat them at this age, but we do see adults throughout the year. Once you’ve held a 2 gram baby mouse in your hand, and wanted them to thrive, what can you do but make sure that a heat lamp, a regular round of formula, and a chance to grow and learn are provided. We have a lot of mouths to feed and a mission to feed all who come our way. 

As noted above, we don’t know what the difference is that makes this year so full of orphaned mammals in our care. We only know that we have a mission to provide where needed to injured and orphaned wild neighbors and to work to build a way to continue helping wildlife in distress as we enter a very de-stabilized future. We won’t be able to do this with out your help.

This part has always been true.

2017 has seen much uncertainty, and we feel it too. Support for the care of the almost forgotten wild babies of the world can be hard to come by when so much anxiety about so many predicaments is a-foot. Just two weeks ago, scientists warned in the New York Times that we are entering an era of “biological annihilation”.

It is here, where we live, where see the impacts of such horrors. And it will be us, in our communities, who do what we can to soften the blows to the innocent wild among us. Please help us meet our mission. Your donation today and every day goes directly toward care of our patients and advocacy for all of the wild. Thank you for your support! Donate Here.  

Photos: Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia


Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Baby Skunks!

This story comes with recommended listening, Cornell Dupree playing Joe Zawinul’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy:

It happens and you don’t even know why. Suddenly – you’ve just learned to walk, just learning to find bugs, just seeing the night sky – you’re alone. Your siblings too. Maybe your mother was hit by a car. Maybe she was trapped and killed or taken far away. But no matter what happened, she didn’t come back ever again. A day goes by, then two, then three. Before you know it you don’t want to run anymore and then, if you’re lucky, one of those people finds you, picks you up, puts you in a box. If you make it to a wildlife rehabilitator, you’re going to be in boxes of one kind or another for a little while. But if all goes well, you’ll be free again.


Last week at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, we admitted our first baby Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis) of the season. 3 youngsters were found in a backyard in Eureka. They’d been seen for a couple of days, but no mother was observed at any time. When one of them was found not moving, all 3 were captured and brought to our clinic.

Right on the edge of weaning, they are old enough to eat solid food and can be housed in our outdoor small mammal housing. But they are far too young to be on their own with no protection and no one to teach them how to find food, how to hunt.

For the next 8 weeks, these distant cousins to the otters (and even more distant to ourselves) will learn to forage for insects, find prey, and recognize the foods that will sustain them in adulthood. We’ll measure their progress and keep a distance between to protect their wildness and preserve their healthy fear of human beings.

We’ll need your help.

What follows are photographs from their first day in care. Now they are housed outdoors, in privacy. We’ll post more photographs as we can get opportunity during health checks over the coming weeks. Right now, they are gaining weight and using their new little teeth very well.

An exam of each skunk was made. One of them, the male of the three, was cold, lethargic and dehydrated, the two sisters were in much better shape. Each was given warmed subcutaneaous fluids. The male, initially  found immobile in the grass, had to be kept in an incubator for some time, but soon recovered and rejoined his siblings.
Tail up, the weaker of the three begins to signal his recovery as he signals his alarm at waking up in an incubator.
Oh yes, these teeth are ready from something to chew on!

The two healthier sisters inside their initial housing to observe their stability, learn more about their state of health and make sure that they are eating. The brother soon joined them.

At this age, skunks don’t have much ability to spray. Still the siblings stamp out warnings and lift their tails in mock battle. Play leads to adulthood!

It can be a hard sell – that these skunks matter. That any skunks matter. In a world such as ours, with demons at the helm, who put every thing that matters up on blocks in the front yard – the chopping block or the auction block – it can seem like we’ve got more pressing matters. But we don’t. So much of what we suffer in this world is the result of a human arrogance that values its own engorgement over the very mystery that produces appetites at all. In this world, pleading the case of the wounded Robin, the orphaned skunk, the broken-winged gull can seem like too little too late. But if we’re going to have a big world worth protecting, we’ll find it the small miracles that surround us, the dense feathers of the seabird’s belly, the strong musk of an evening’s encounter.

Please help us care for these beings whose lives are their own, who determine their own value, victims of our thoughtless creations. Donate (here) if you can. Thank you.

photos: Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia