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these owls, true to their name, live in underground burrows that they dig themselves, or in burrows that were  originally made by another burrowing species such as the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi).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



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.


Fledgling Marbled Murrelet Reaches the Sea Unconventionally

Early Monday morning the phone rang at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. It was Lynn Roberts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a biologist who specializes in locally threatened Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus). Tourists in Prairie Creek State Park, an important area for these seabirds who nest high in the strong limbs of old-growth Redwoods, had found who they believed was a Marbled Murrelet fledgling in the middle of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which wends through the park’s ancient groves. Lynn was going to bring the young seabird to our clinic as soon as she had him in her care.

Marbled Murrelets are one of the most unusual seabirds. They make nesting in trees seem strange! While most seabirds nest on rocky cliffs and islands, in the portion of their Pacific coastal range that is forested, from Southeast Alaska to the southernmost point just north of Santa Cruz, B. marmoratus nests primarily in the high horizontal branches that can only be found in very old trees, the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and our region’s coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) as far as 60 miles inland from the sea. Parents fly each day from the ocean where they dive for fish back to the nest to feed their growing chicks. When their chicks fledge, they must leave the nest and make it to the Pacific on their first flight. This is a natural challenge that all Marbled Murrelet chicks have faced for millions of years and for which they are very well suited.

[Want to help ensure that Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is always open and ready to care for our wild neighbors in trouble? You can click here now to make a donation today! Thank you!]

However new challenges in the last 150 years have had a terrible impact both on the coastal Redwoods and their nesting seabirds. Approximately five per cent of the Redwood forest that was thriving here in the mid 19th century remains. What is left is punctured by roads, surrounded by continued industrial logging, and threatened by development. And in the ocean, climate change, agricultural run-off, plastic pollution and other modern disasters that have no relief in sight mean that B. marmoratus has no escape from the devastation caused by colonialism, resource extraction, and a culture-wide myopic disregard for the natural systems that sustain all life.

The endangered status of Redwoods (International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist) and Marbled Murrelets (IUCN Redlist, US Endangered Species Act threatened) increases the stakes when a young Murrelet is in trouble. While it is true that we treat each of our patients with dignity, respect and with the knowledge that every individual experiences her or his own existence as central, threatened and endangered species receive significantly more attention from the agencies (USFWS, CDFW) whose task is their protection when they are admitted for care.

For this Murrelet chick, given the cool and foggy night that the bird was found, it’s possible that the damp pavement of the road looked deceptively like open water, tricking the young bird into landing. Once on the ground, there is no way for a Murrelet or almost any other seabird who needs open water and a running start in order to take off to regain the sky. Were it not for the people who scooped the fledgling off the road, this is likely where the young bird’s short life would’ve ended.

Getting ready to go to Sea! Not how most Murrelets get there, but any port in a storm!

Instead, the youngster was found! And soon after calling our clinic, Lynn Roberts showed up with one of these precious and few ambassadors of sea and forest in a box with a soft towel. During the admission examination we discovered no problems at all. This young Murrelet was in good health and without any injuries. All s/he needed was help getting to the ocean. We provided hydration and a safe place to rest until arrangements for transport to sea could be made.

Lynn contacted some local sea kayak enthusiasts who volunteer with USFWS. They were ready and willing to take this bird out to a safe location just beyond the rocks and surf near Trinidad.

USFWS Biologist Lynn Roberts discusses with the volunteer kayakers where best to to take the young Seabird.

The young Murrelet is secured to the kayak for a paddle out to sea.

There are a lot of passionate, committed people working very hard to ensure that Marbled Murrelets continue to be a part of our shared world. In these trying times, it is good to know that compassion and love for the wild aren’t rare!

The Sea: home to Marbled Murrelets and mother to us all. 

It isn’t everyday that we have the opportunity and need to help such an endangered and helpless young bird find their way home. But everyday we do help whoever comes through our door. The day we admitted the young Murrelet we also admitted a cat-caught Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), a beached Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) found inside someone’s living room, and a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) who was found severely injured on the bank of the Eel river in Southern Humboldt County. It isn’t easy work. Often we have joyful tasks with wonderful results, such as the care we provided this Marbled Murrelet, yet just as often we have difficult tasks with heartbreaking outcomes – such as ushering that Green Heron whose injuries were too severe to successfully treat into the next realm.

No matter what our tasks, we would not be able to complete them without your support. Your generosity keeps the only all-species wildlife hospital between Santa Rosa and the Oregon border open and ready to help our wild neighbors when they’re injured by the machinery of our world. Your donation is appreciated more than we can say! Donate today! Thank you!

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX


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!


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


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)


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!


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


Wild fostering…

Admitting a wild baby for care immediately poses questions that must be solved. First! Is this baby an orphan? Wild babies are better off with their families. If the family is intact, our first task is to reunite the baby with parent or parents. For some species this is easy, for others less so … Finding a mother Mallard(Anas platyrhynchos) who’s lost one or more of her chicks is nearly impossible, while getting a mistakenly grabbed Raven(Corvus corax) chick back to her parents is one of the easiest things you can do.

But often the family is gone, a parent killed, or their whereabouts unknowable (a dog drags a fawn up to the front porch, uninjured, but who knows from where…). However hope for a real wild upbringing isn’t completely lost. In some cases we can “wild foster”,  a technique in which orphans are placed in a wild family of their own species although not related. For some species, including most raptors, this can be easily done. (check out the work of  The Hungry Owl Project, one of the organizations that helped spread the use of this technique for raptors in California.)  We attempt to wild foster our young orphans whenever we can, or is necessary.

If re-uniting and fostering are not an option, we still have our faithful standby: we raise the orphans ourselves. While not ideal, successfully raising orphaned wild animals is done every day across the world by compassionate people, mostly volunteers, who take the business of being wild very seriously. We protect the wild nature of our patients fiercely, as well as their absolute right to freedom. To successfully prepare our patients for their adulthood means to provide them an upbringing that will give them the opportunity to develop the necessary tools for surviving and thriving – meeting their rightful destiny.

It may same a strange activity, but taking care of babies not even of your own species isn’t just humane, it’s natural.

Consider how tenderly this Bald Eagle(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) feeds this Red-tailed Hawk(Buteo jamaicensis) chick at this eagle nest. How this hawk found his way into this nest we may never know, but we do know this: This eagle is giving this hawk a second chance! Just like we do. One feeding at a time.

In this remarkable video, Bald Eagles in their nest at Roberts Bay, near Victoria, British Columbia are seen feeding a Red-tailed Hawk nestling. Apparently raising orphans of a species not your own is a perfectly natural endeavor! [EDIT: more information on this nest here.]

As with all aspects of our work, raising wild orphans requires specialized skills and a facility that is flexible enough to meet the shifting demands of our caseload and the diversity of our wild neighbors – raising Common Murre(Uria aalge) chicks and Raccoons(Procyon lotor) do have some similarities, but mostly they have a multitude of differences!

Whether we raise these babies ourselves, wild foster them, or return them to their families, our ability to act, to weigh the considerations and have resources available so that the our best course of action can be followed. All of our work stems from your support. Without your support, none of this ever happens. Please help us now in the midst of our busiest time of the year. We have a lot of mouths to feed. Donate Now.