Skunk’s Got White Stripes

That don’t mean she’s the road to town
Skunk’s got white stripes
That don’t mean she’s the road to town
Just trying to find her lover
Everybody’s got to run her down

Every year the same thrilling tale that Nature has told since time immemorial ends in tragedy for many female Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis). In January here in Humboldt (as late as end of February for less temperate areas) female skunks begin to look for a mate. Their evenings are no longer spent watching over any remaining youngsters from the previous year. No longer content to saunter the night time world looking for food and whatever sparks her curiosity, now she is driven. The force of Spring renewal is powerful thing, sending her across fields and forests and very unfortunately, across roads too.

Three days ago, we admitted our first adult female skunk of 2018, who’d likely been hit by a car. Paralyzed and barely conscious, a quick, humane end was the only appropriate care. We rarely admit a skunk who’s been hit by a car simply because they rarely live through the impact. Instead, each January we see a sudden increase in skunks, dead and left to rot by the sides of our roads, from US 101 to the small two lane black tops that criss-cross the agricultural industry of the bottom lands. Samoa Blvd, from Arcata through Manila and south to North Jetty, on a these mid-winter days might have as many as four skunks freshly killed to be seen on the morning commute.

Accidents happen. Many of us can tell a story of hitting a bird, or a squirrel, or a raccoon without warning, with no chance to avoid the impact. It’s a terrible thing. The finality of it – and in the moment, the realized cost – this Swainson’s Thrush had crossed thousands of miles to be here to raise this year’s young, but no, instead, he’s lodged in the bumper of a car that had been speeding along with coffee creamer and a few other things that had been needed at the store. The casual slaughter of billions of wild animals each year by automobile is just another tragedy woven through the fabric of our daily lives.

In the last 12 months, how many Raccoons between Arcata and Manila, between Ferndale and Fernbridge, between Bayside and Freshwater, between Redding and Sacramento were struck and killed and left to bloat and decay by the side of the road, or worse, lure another animal, a Turkey Vulture perhaps, into the same trap. It’s a measure of how far below our concern these lives are, that we can tolerate their dead bodies lying on the margins of our thoroughfares decomposing where they were killed.

It must be the case that many animals are killed simply because we don’t see them, because we never see them. We don’t include them in our ideas about what might happen. We race through the dark as if the world was closed and nothing is real but the road, our headlights, our thoughts and the dark cavern of the sky. And the Road Runner startled by our engine’s roar dashes from the sage into our trajectory, smashed in the night by the predator who never eats – to be mourned if at all, only in the form of young who may have been orphaned to die, and the great sorrow of the Earth which is too large to hear – the Earth who reels in the blood of her freshest wounds and heals as she can from wounds long inflicted – strip mines, factory trawlers, pesticides sprayed across the plains, rivers choked…

There are so many wounds in the world today. Mudslides have killed at least 18 people in Santa Barbara County. In California alone, people in the last year have suffered one catastrophic calamity after another, in a world where greater disaster seems to always loom on the near horizon. It seems that there is little we can do about these wounds on this scale. But it’s simply not true.

Against these tragedies, we have a remedy. This remedy may not lower the temperature but will make the world where we are more beautiful, more just. Dr. King said that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, and we can do part of that bending right here, right now, in our tangible world and literally where the rubber meets the road. We can slow down and open our eyes. We can anticipate that we are not alone, free to tread where we will, to pay no regard to who is left broken or killed in our wake.We can find the joy in the nocturnal wild and search for their glowing eyes. We can stop teaching our sons violence as a form of play, violence as a right of passage – to respect the other lives, minds, hearts who they encounter. Far too many patients we’ve admitted were witnessed being run down intentionally, almost always a young man at the wheel. We can teach our sons now what it means to value the soul of another.

The world is made in moments and in each moment we can remember our first loyalty – to Earth and the wild. We can learn to undo our overly built confidence in the machinery of our times and re-align with our wild neighbors, our fellow travelers through this life on Earth, or kith, our kin; -our measured distance surmountable in a leap of recognition, not faith. We can give safe passage to this skunk here now, who is crossing the road, so that she might find who she needs, so that the world is refreshed, so that her young come to be.





A Barn Owl’s Broken Wing Heals

Like most years, this winter Humboldt Wildlife Care Center has seen a significant increase in owls admitted for care that have been hit by a vehicle.

Very often the injuries to a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) after being hit by a car are too severe for successful treatment. There is simply no chance that the injury will heal, fully recovered. The bird will never be able to be returned to the wild and free life which is their birth right. It’s a tragic thing to admit an owl, in perfect body condition, at the prime of adulthood, but with a humerus no longer attached to the clavicle, ligaments torn, the shoulder joint torn apart, no longer able to use that wing forever.

Sometimes though, a Barn Owl gets a little bit of luck.

In mid-December, a Barn Owl was hit by car on US 101 in Arcata where the highway runs past the Mad River bottoms. Bottom land, such as we find all around Humboldt Bay, is perfect habitat for rodent-eating Barn Owls. Most of the Barn Owls we admit who’ve been hit by a car come to us from places where higher speed traffic cuts through the flat ranch lands of Arcata, Hydesville, Ferndale, and Loleta.

This Barn Owl, like many who are admitted after being hit by a car, suffered a wing fracture, rendering her unable to fly. Because of her size, at the upper end of the 400-550 gram weight range typical for her species, we assumed her to be female.

The fracture was in a tricky spot. Bird wings, forelimbs evolved for flight, have bones that are fairly analogous to our arms. Like all mammals and birds, Owls have a humerus that is connected to a clavicle (collar-bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and a coracoid (only birds have this bone, which provides support for the powerful downstroke of a beating wing and is not palpable). These bones come together in a mass of complex muscles and ligaments that form a shoulder that is capable of flight. Any of these bones can be fractured and recovery might still be possible, but dislocating bones from this joint, causing soft tissue trauma, ends in a patient who will never fly again. The functioning of this joint must be perfect or flight isn’t possible. Unfortunately, many birds suffer traumatic injuries to this joint when struck by vehicles or by collisions with buildings, usually a window.

Humerus fractures can be a problem because powerful flight muscles make it difficult to preserve alignment of the pieces of bone while they heal – usually this type of fracture requires surgery – a pin or some other kind of fixator must be used for the bone to heal properly. When presented with injuries like this, we often will send our patient south to Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay, where Dr. Shannon Riggs, a highly skilled wild avian orthopedic surgeon who is also a BAX co-founder, works as Director of Animal Care.

After the humerus, just as with human anatomy, a radius and ulna make up the “forewing” after the elbow just as we have a forearm. Fractures to these bones run the range of easily healed with no problems, a complete return to function, all the way to broken beyond repair with no hope for recovery. The distance of the fracture from a joint, in this case the elbow or wrist, is an important consideration. Too close to a joint and a healed fracture might interfere with the range of motion, making flight impossible.

Beyond the wrist there are a couple of fused bones, the major and minor metacarpals, which are analogous to the bones between our fingers and our wrist. Next are three bones in sequence, vestigial digits after evolving for flight. The primary feathers, critical for controlled flight, attach to the wing along the digits. For mobility, lift, control and steering, the digits play a crucial role. At one time, fractures to the metacarpals and digits were not considered treatable. Fortunately, a splinting technique was developed that has changed that. It’s a splint that we use successfully several times a year.

This owl’s left wing, far beyond her wrist, was broken at the tip of her third digit. We stabilized the fracture with the splint that had been developed especially for this type of fracture. Using a piece of bandage material specifically for splints in conjunction with the rigid flight feathers to immobilize the fracture site while allowing freedom of movement to eat and perch, the splinted wing is held in place with a traditional wing wrap. We talked with Dr. Riggs about treatment, encouraged that fractured bone of the digit would heal much more readily than connective soft tissue.

The first examination also revealed that the owl was not able to stand fully, her left leg, no doubt the impact side, was much weaker than her right. Nothing broken was found in her leg, but swelling was present. Still, as injuries go, this owl was luckier than most in her situation. With splint applied, anti-inflammatory pain meds given, and some thawed out mice, her time in care began.

On a specially prepared perch that reduces captivity related problems such as pressure sores that can develop on the bottoms of a bird’s feet when spending much more time than usual standing and not flying. Perching and other housing choices are an important part of providing effective care. Knowing the natural history of many different wild species is critical if we are to treat patients appropriate to their needs.

In our large aviary (the Merry Maloney Raptor Housing)  after getting her splint removed, the Barn Owl exhibits very good flight! 

Captured for a routine exam, we are careful not to let these feet, both the tools of her trade and her only real defense against the likes of us, grab us. Tough enough to kill a large rodent, she’d cause some serious damage to a caregiver’s hand if we didn’t treat her talons with respect.

Silently swooping across the crepuscular sky, a Barn Owl is a swift and effective hunter. Even in an aviary, this owl’s flight was awe-inspiring.

The swelling in her left leg and her reluctance to use it improved immediately. Within a few days she was perching normally, able to hop around her housing, albeit with one wing tied behind her back.

An advantage that birds have over mammals is their much greater metabolism, which means that they heal much more quickly. Break a finger skiing and you’ll be in a splint for six weeks, while birds will heal in two! After 12 days, we partially removed the splint to check the progress of healing. The fracture site was nearly stable. We re-applied the splint and set her up for another check five days later, cautiously allowing a few more days than is normally required. Meanwhile, her attitude was becoming more fierce. After 17 days, the fracture site was was fully stable. We removed the splint and took her to an outdoor aviary. Immediately she took off n flight and flew around a corner and out of our view. We brought her some mice and left her alone. In a few days, after observing her flight in the aviary, we examined her one more time. In very good health, strong and fully recovered we released her back to bottom lands she hunts.

That moment when the patient realizes she is free and acts on it is a moment like no other.
Across the field…
And up toward the trees…

Putting as much distance between us as she can before stopping…

She alights on branches at the top of these tall alders and looks back toward us, toward her captors… does she know we helped? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she is free, using a second chance that was given her and this is the last of her looking back…
And then she leapt back into flight and was gone… returned to her wild freedom in the real world.

Wildlife rehabilitation is at least as old as human compassion, but as a profession it’s been less than 50 years that rehabilitators have been using trainings, regulations, and professional associations to improve available care for injured and orphaned wildlife all over the country. Innovations like the splint that gave this owl her second chance are made because of support generously donated. These innovations and improvements are passed on to other caregivers and are taught to the next generation of rehabilitators using the resources that your support provides. This Barn Owl is hunting the night-time world of the bottoms surrounding northern Humboldt Bay thanks to you making sure that we are here, doors open and ready.

Barn Owls are awesome and fortunately easily observed. But it’s their proximity to us, to the hazards of our modern world that are nothing but traps to animals evolved to the standards of Mother Earth, not industrial mechanized society  that are the greatest threat. It’s up to us to do what we can to slow down, be aware of the dangers we present to wild animals and modify our actions when we can. Co-existing with Barn Owls: it’s only natural.


all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX



Raccoons Make End of Year Deadline: Free in 2017!

The last orphaned Raccoons (Procyon lotor) treated at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center were released on New Year’s Eve, ensuring that these youngsters returned to wild freedom before the ball fell on the year… (note: there is no evidence that raccoons care even a little bit about calendars or clocks).

Both raccoons were late season babies in a year that saw significant departures from our normal caseload – a huge increase in mammal babies as well as an extended season that lasted over a month longer than past years.

One raccoon, a female, was brought to us in early October, weighing only 450 grams, very skinny, with an infection that left both of her eyes crusted shut and heavy congestion. She was only about 4 weeks old, with teeth just beginning to emerge. Her first day in care was nearly her last due to the severity of her condition. She’d been alone for many days after her mother and siblings had been illegally trapped. Severely dehydrated and malnourished, still she showed remarkable strength. She responded quickly to the antibiotics we gave her. The fluids and milk replacer also did their part. Soon she was in good body condition, well hydrated and full of spitting fury.

Our concern that she would be alone for most of her care was alleviated when we admitted another raccoon at the beginning of December. This one, a male, was the same size and at the same stage of development as our female orphan. He was brought to us after being found lingering at the back door of a restaurant, where some were feeding him scraps.

Both raccoons were served by the other’s company. Having a buddy, if you’re a raccoon too young to be on your own, helps reduce stress and promotes well being – play is critical for learning. Raccoons playing together learn about the natural diet items that we provide and playing together encourages them to eat. Play is critical for developing physical skills like climbing. While we don’t wish for patients, admitting the male in early December really helped the female, and having the female in care already was a boon to the male, once his quarantine was over.

We check the weights and development of our orphaned raccoons every two weeks, striking a balance between our need to monitor their progress and their need for privacy and the protection of their wild hearts. By mid-December, we knew that their next check-up would be on New Year’s Eve and we knew that they were likely to be ready to go at that time. When the day arrived, both raccoons passed their release evaluation and were taken to a very nice spot for a young raccoon to enter the Wild, a place remote from human houses, in a healthy ecosystem with a lot of excellent food.

Evaluation for release includes behavior such as wild food recognition and fear of people, physically, each raccoon must be in good health and fully functional, and a weight check – raccoons must be a certain size before they can considered for release.

In our raccoon housing, we have an artificial river which we use to help them learn that fish and other aquatic creatures are delicious and found in water. When taken to a real river, they know what to do!

Exploring the new world takes time… both raccoons exhibited a very cautious approach after they came out of their carriers. Studies have shown that wild animals who approach novel situations with caution and even fear, do better at avoiding the dangers of the human-built world. Protecting the wildness of our patients is as important as treating their injuries. 

Our last glimpse of these raccoons before they left for the surrounding Wild… and excellent way to close out the year!

Caring for raccoons is challenging and rewarding. Raccoons are very intelligent and seek mental stimulation. Keeping them wild and fearful of humans is difficult – they’re smart enough to read our actions. So we adopt a hands off approach once they are weaned. Our housing is designed to be a teacher – a safe place to explore an imitation wild environment, complete with moving water, grasses, hidden insects, eggs, prey items, and fruits (mostly zucchini!) that we put in branches they must climb to reach.  We’re proud of the raccoons who graduate from our school! And we’re grateful to all who support our work and make our raccoon program the success that it is!

Now our raccoon housing is empty, which gives us the needed time to make repairs and improvements for our next season which is only four months away! Want to help us out? Donate today! Thank you!!


Ring-Billed Gull Beats the Parking Lot

Every year Humboldt Wildlife Care Center admits nearly 100 gulls of various species. Many of these gulls are injured beyond all help but a humane end to their suffering. The most common causes of injuries to gulls are trucks and cars, and the most dangerous place, it seems, are the parking lots of area shopping centers.

It seems strange that parking lots would be the most dangerous, since traffic in lots is already very slow, the presence of children and people pushing carts would make driver’s more aware and able to avoid collisions with gulls and other birds. Of course, we’ve all witnessed the sad fact of young men trying to run down pigeons and gulls in parking lots with their vehicles. Purposefully trying to hit wild animals with a vehicle is an act of senseless cruelty and a troubling sign. While we don’t know if many of the gulls we treat suffered intentional cruelty, whenever we admit an animal found in a parking lot, we wonder even if we’ll never know. What we do know is that a large number of those gulls don’t make it.

A few days ago, however, we admitted a Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) who’d been found on the ground, barely able to move, unable to stand in the parking lot for a shopping center on Broadway Avenue in Eureka. At first we were concerned that the gull had been hit hard enough to fracture his or her spine. But both feet were responsive to touch.

With no palpable fractures, we assumed either acute toxicity, or a collision that had cause swelling. Treated with fluids and anti-inflammatory medicine, the gull soon was standing again.

Recovery was fast. After a few days in our aviary, the gull was flying very well and ready for freedom. The following photos are in sequence from the today’s release. The gull leapt from the carrier and never touched the ground…

A nice way to end a challenging year! A gull’s second chance in a dangerous world!

Your support means that this gull, one of the last patients released in 2017, who would’ve died last week, vulnerable and wounded on an acre of pavement where people stash their cars while shopping for trinkets, an all too common fate, instead is flying above Humboldt Bay, free right now, using a second chance that your generosity provided. Our human-built world takes little heed of our wild neighbors. Your support helps fix that problem, case by case, one wild neighbor at a time.

Thank you for supporting our work in 2017. From all of us at HWCC/BAX Have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve and we’ll see you tomorrow, as we enter 2018 with an open door for our wild neighbors. Thank you.

photos: Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia


A Challenging Year Ends, A New Year’s Promise

A tumultuous year, 2017 has been. We’re glad to reach the finish line! Challenging though it was, we are here today because of your support. Because of your support, our chief project, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is open 7 days a week, every day of the year. Because of your support we’ve never turned away a wild neighbor in need. Because of your support, we’ve met the needs of 1,154 patients so far (on 12/30/17). Your support provided treatment for nearly 100 Hawks and Owls and over 400 Songbirds. From Mallards to Sandpipers to Common Loons, your support provided the specialized housing that our 256 aquatic bird patients required. We treated over 350 mammals – orphaned Raccoons, Gray Fox, a neonatal Little Brown Bat, a Coyote pup, juvenile Douglas squirrels, nearly 40 skunks, litters of Opossums, – Deer mice and voles. Your support kept us open to be there to help two dozen adult Raccoons, Opossums and Skunks find a humane end after being mangled beyond hope by a truck or a car.

The challenges to our communities this year have at times felt pretty dangerous, veering from harm to vulnerable people and families to risks so terrible – climate change, environmental collapse, geopolitical tensions, and more – that they seem to threaten our collective existence. For many this is a brand new challenge. For many this is a re-telling of their loss – of land, of life, of language, of standing in a dominating society. For the wild, in her extreme diversity, this is the story of her interactions with civilization since the first forests were sacrificed to build ships of war.

Threats to the wild rarely stop. This last weekend of the year among other things, we learn that established rules of safety for offshore oil drilling and fracking will be rescinded. The killing of birds by the various energy industries will no longer be considered a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, weakening the enforcement of a century old law that has yet to fulfill its promise.

Wild lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, whose protection has been a constant battle for decades, are opened now for plunder. To be free, wild animals need a place to be. Habitat loss, along with buildings, cats and cars are the biggest threats facing wild animals today. These cause the most harm to populations and they are the top reasons that patients are admitted to HWCC.

It is certainly not a recent observation that industry has wreaked havoc on the wild world. Our beloved Henry David Thoreau, in 1861, consoling himself that while the forests of Concord had been mowed down that at least, “men cannot fly and lay waste the sky as well as earth,” yet here we are 150 years on and the naiveté of that sentiment, that somehow the sky would be safe, is little more than a tragic joke.

The fight to protect the air, the sea, the land – to preserve these necessary things – we were hardly near winning before last year, but now it’s impossible to not fear the naked aggression against the natural world on current display.

It’s been reported that the tax on each barrel of oil that goes into the federal fund for spill cleanup, including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, for use when there is no known responsible party, or in circumstances when the responsible party lacks the ability to pay for the clean up, will expire at the end of 2017 with no plan to renew it.

The notion that we pay for what we damage is both a homily of our daily lives and a hard fought right that our victims have a hard time making stick. Only for wildlife injured in an oil spill is there a mandate that they be given care and restored to their lives to the best of our ability. On a case by case basis this or that industry might be forced to help rehabilitate the birds who survive whatever fresh hell they’ve brought to some corner of the earth – a meat packing plant might be forced to pay for the care of the gulls who were sickened by uncovered waste –  an agri-business might have to pay for the care of displaced chicks caused by mowing a rice field while nesting White-faced Ibis were present. Or they might not.

Your support is critical. HWCC, our education programs, and our humane solutions program to peacefully resolve human/wildlife conflicts are supported entirely by your generosity! Please donate!

This is the world we live in.

This year we admitted orphaned baby mammals as late as mid October – 6 weeks later than ever before, and other timings are also off. Raccoons admitted in October as well, and no juvenile Common Murres admitted at all, a sign not of their success in the wild, but their failure.The only thing that seems certain is the that the demands on public money will mount in the face of damage caused by a changing climate; – that barring some miraculous change in the priorities of those who wield the power today, the resources that the federal government makes available or mandates for the care of anthropogenic injuries suffered by our wild neighbors will shrink not grow.

In 2017, across the state of California, wildlife care providers were forced to evacuate their facilities because of fire. The unsustainable impact of industrial civilization on the natural world – predicted and observed decades in advance of our current predicament – is wreaking havoc now. From the Virgin Islands, we were contacted by a wildlife rehabilitator who needed to replace her copy of our book, An Introduction to Aquatic Bird Rehabilitation, that she lost with the rest of her library during the devastating Hurricane Maria.

So here we are.

Precariously perched on the edge of a less certain future – how will our changing environment harm local wildlife? How will unprecedented demands on emergency resources impact what is available for injured and orphaned wild neighbors? In times of calamity, will our human communities have the capacity to still provide care for innocent wild victims?

Against these calamities and with these uncertainties, we push forward into the new year. Our wildlife rehabilitation  program at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is pretty straightforward regardless of challenges. Our hospital will be open to every wild neighbor in need. We will provide care for the wild animals that are brought to us, each according to their need to best of our abilities. Proper diets, appropriate medicine, and housing that encourages recovery for the diverse species we treat – no matter what the future brings, providing these essential things to our patients who were injured by human activity is both the least and the most we can do. Individual care for injured and orphaned wild species is our alpha and omega. In 2018 we will continue to improve our wildlife rehabilitation program, including much needed housing for orphaned deer fawns and expanded capacity for orphaned geese and ducks.

Once committed to providing care and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wild animals, everything, from the practical realities to the eternal truths, demands that we work to prevent needless injury. Promoting co-existence with the wild is part and parcel of providing care to wild animals. In the best of times this is a challenge. We live in a society that hasn’t been willing to co-exist with the wild, more so seeing some elements of the wild as a threat to the other elements of wild whose extraction is profitable. And so wolves and bison were slaughtered in front of expanding cattle ranching and industrial farming. Coyotes, raccoons, prairie dogs, gophers, woodpeckers, migratory waterfowl, blackbirds and more are subject to death each year in the millions because they stepped into the wrong side of the city. Advocates for the wild in the best of times must wage constant defense against the short-sighted use of lethal options when wild animals and humans come into conflict. At its essence promoting co-existence is the work of expanding our culture’s view of who matters, who we regard as family, and who we are willing to see at all.

Now in times of struggle, we wonder if our communities will contract or expand. In twenty years will our family be larger or smaller? Promoting co-existence means working to ensure that our family grows.

Working for wildlife means working for a world of justice and equality. It’s impossible to see the orphaned raccoon and not the refugee child. In this way we stand with those who fight for civil rights, for equal treatment under the law, for the freedom to be – but clearly our own work is alongside those who struggle to bring our communities into a more sane and  humble relationship with with the source of all life, the wild, – to help bring a societal shift away from destructive extraction, away from savage land practices that destroy habitat… and we do this by reaching out and strengthening our professional networks, offering trainings and skill sharing so that the hard-won advances in our field of wildlife care are spread and survive even as other systems fail, – to get our progress, earned over decades by committed care providers everywhere, into as many baskets as we can. Support, in uncertain times, for those who provide care is as critical to our mission as the rest. So in 2018 we will continue to publish materials and provide continuing education opportunities for other wildlife rehabilitators as well as train future care providers through our internship program at HWCC.
In 2017, with your support, we provided direct care for nearly 1200 injured and orphaned wild animals. We responded to thousands of phone calls that prevented untold injuries. Our educational programs reached thousands of people from school children to professional rehabilitators, agency personnel and the next generation of care givers. All of these things we do in good times and bad, through crises and repose. Each day our doors are open and we’re working. Our shoestring budget makes some things more difficult, but it actually keeps us true to our cause – our purpose and the future.

We are preparing daily to do our work in the world that comes our way, whether it’s a world we’d choose or not. Some things are foregone: oceans will rise, forests will burn. Wars will be waged by those same hungry ghosts who wage them now. And perhaps our resources will be stretched thin – or maybe we’ll experience abundance. No matter which, we will be here. To remember the words of one of HWCC’s past board members, “when we save a wild life, we save our own humanity.”  It’s a benefit that our bleak times cannot afford to overlook. 

We’re here for the wild, including the part that’s human.

Thank you for supporting Bird Ally X and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in 2017. We’ll see you in 2018 too! Here’s to a year that sees a swing toward sanity, and Dr. King’s universal arc bending toward justice.


Western Pond Turtle Avoids Life in Captivity Thanks to Alert Craigslist Seller! (photos!!)

Although nearly every patient who we admit at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is a victim of industrial society, not all victims are injured. Recently we took a call from a man in Scotia, south of Humboldt Bay, telling us that while he’d had an aquarium listed on Craigslist someone had contacted him asking if it was suitable for a turtle. He’d asked what species and the person had told him he didn’t know but that he’d found the turtle in the Eel river.

The caller said that he’d convinced the man to surrender the turtle and that he would bring the kidnap victim to us the next day.

Among all wild species of vertebrates, reptiles and amphibians are some of the least protected by law. In California as long as you carry a sport-fishing license you may legally possess anywhere from one to an unlimited amount of turtles, frogs, salamanders, etc on any given day. Western Pond Turtles (Emys marmorata), however are listed in by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as Species of Special Concern, due to their restricted range and relatively small population. (see more info about CDFW’s special species list here.)

True to his word, the caller came by the next day with a Western Pond Turtle. After an exam, we determined that the turtle was in good health with no injuries, so the next day we too him back to secluded spot along the Eel river near Scotia.

Our examination found no problems at all. A healthy male Western pond turtle!

We selected a release site along the Eel River near Scotia, where the turtle was first kidnapped.

And then he sunk from view back into the surrounding and surrounded Wild.

While laws might not protect reptiles and amphibians as much as we’d like, laws are not the only thing that keep us and those we cherish safe. Awareness, respect, common sense, and an imagination that allows us to see the central fact of any living being’s right to be, their right to co-exist with us without harassment and unharmed. This is a major part of our work. Your support allows us to do all that we can to promote co-existence with our wild neighbors, and to remind the adults of our society of the love for the Wild into which they were born and for whom they’d once had an affinity as natural as love for our mother.

Thank you for making sure we’re here, doors open, ready to provide whatever assistance is needed to our wild neighbors. If you’d like to support our work, please donate today!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX


2017 Holiday Message

(This is the text from our 2017 holiday card. Want to be on our mailing list? follow this link!)

Season’s Greetings, Friends of Wildlife!

It’s a pleasure to send you this Holiday card! We like to imagine them on refrigerator doors, push pinned to cork boards, tucked into shoeboxes, preserving each year’s portrait of a wild neighbor who’d been in our care! Collect them all! We enjoy the opportunity to thank everyone who generously helped keep our doors open. It gives us a chance to share an individual’s story – which you can multiply by thousands – to show the impact your support has here on the North Coast, as well as everywhere that our education programs travel; – from local schools to distant conferences.

Helping improve the quality of care available for injured and orphaned wild animals and promoting co-existence with the Wild is as important to us as caring for the injured animals we admit each day. It’s a simple irreducible fact: the health of Mother Earth is not a luxury we can do without!

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) on this card, recently released, is a thoroughly modern owl. Modern owl families are roughly 30 million years old. Comprehending 30 million years may be hard, but the math is easy enough. Long-eared Owls have been around, as they are today, at least 6 times longer than the most expansive view of humanity’s time on Earth.

Yet, Long-eared Owls are now in decline, listed for the last several years in California as a Bird Species of Special Concern. Long-eared Owls require a healthy forested river, they require open, low-lying fields and wetlands – critical needs that have been rapidly lost in the last 100 years! Among the 250 or so owls we’ve treated in the last five years, this is the third Long-eared Owl. Still Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte and Trinity counties, our home, may hold habitat enough to help provide this species a refuge. With your support, the North Coast will always have a place for its wild refugees when they are injured and in need.

This Owl hunted the fields and forests at the confluence of the Van Duzen and Eel rivers. Most likely hit by a car, he was found on the ground, vulnerable and in shock. He’d been seen there for more than a day. A kind stranger scooped him into a box and brought him to our clinic. With medicine, warmth and safety – the care your support provides – he quickly recovered. He’s home now on those river bottoms hunting again, living the second chance your support gave him.

Thank you for your support in 2017, a tough year indeed. All of the staff and volunteers wish you a wonderful Season of gratitude, love and joy as well as a beautiful and bountiful New Year. We look forward to meeting our mission, with your help, in 2018.

In alliance with the Wild,
All of us at BAX/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center



2017 Mugs are Here

Each year we remember a species that was notable for the year by issuing a commemorative mug – in all past years as a token of our appreciation for those who generously volunteer their time and labor to help us meet the challenges of our mission. In 2012 we featured Brown Pelicans, due to the fish waste issue that caused juveniles of that species so much trouble that year. Each subsequent year we featured a different species (All rendered by BAX co-founder and co-director, Laura Corsiglia!). This year, 2017 saw an increase of more than 100% in the Striped Skunk babies we admitted as orphans! We’ve treated 34 Skunks this year so far compared to 2016 when we treated 16 the entire year. So we present our 2017 mug! And this year’s is not only for our volunteers! You can buy a mug for only $10 – just stop by our clinic at 2182 Old Arcata Rd in Bayside and get yours – you too can make a difference for wildlife!


They Call It Giving Tuesday

We call it Tuesday. And who knows what the day will bring – before noon and we’ve already admitted five patients. Late November 2017 and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center has treated more animals in the regular course of our year than ever before. This winter we’ve cared for a steady stream of patients – from Western Grebes to Western Screech-owls – each caught in some terrible snare of civilization; smashed by cars, starved by a sea drowning in industrial refuse.

Two of our five Western Grebe patients recover from starvation on our seabird pool.

A Pacific Loon who landed in a puddle in a parking lot floats in privacy moments before her release evaluation.

One of the 11 Western Screech-owls that HWCC treated in November 2017. Early Autumns evenings and rush hour traffic are a terrible ix for nocturnal hunters!

Moments after release, this Western Screech-owl pauses to survey his second chance – a second chance your support provided.

As 2017 comes to its end, we thank you for all the support you’ve given – the difference your generosity has made for our wild neighbors is measurable – in patients we’ve treated, in wildlife conflicts we’ve resolved, in lives we’ve touched both human and wild – and it is also without number – your support reaches into the mysterious heart of our true wild life on Earth. Thank you for helping us get it done.








Wild Gratitude!

On this national day of Thanksgiving, those of us at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center want to share a few photos of our work day today! We’re here 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 in leap years!) And your support is what makes it possible!

Western Grebes in care on Thanksgiving day… Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is open every day of the year to provide care for our region’s injured and orphaned wild neighbors.

Staff and volunteers at work developing new education programs!

From all of us at Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, Thank You! Your generosity, today and everyday, keep our doors open, our clinic ready, and our mission of promoting co-existence with our wild neighbors moving forward! 

Want to help? Donate today!