The daffodils are creeping up. I've seen lots of robins and bluebirds lately. The long, icy winter is over and the "slow rescue season" has given way to my favorite season ... mud season. I love watching everything come back to life.There really isn't a slow season anymore at Red Maple Farm. We are doing rescues every day, all year long, usually around 400 animals a year. We never have a day off. We even had a duck come in on Christmas morning. With our current economic recession, I've been getting lots of calls from good people that are in over their heads financially. I think that it is amazing that these people are struggling to survive yet they care so much about their animals that they know that they can no longer take care of them and want to get them in a better spot--versus a livestock auction ... or watch them starve. Spring is our busiest season of the year and I look forward to the orphaned wildlife that will be arriving shortly. One of my students told me yesterday, at school, that the bears are out of the dens and on the move again. I am hoping this year to have the opportunity to rehab bear cubs. We have started building the second phase of NY Wildlife Rescue Center. Last year, we put all of our time and donations into building a beautiful mammal area. This year, we have already started to build our raptor center for hawk, owl and falcon rehab. We are building the indoor facilities for eight species right now, as donations keep coming in. By fall, I hope to have the 150 foot outdoor flight completed. We rescue a lot of birds of prey. All of the rehabbers that network through this facility do a great job with the animals that we get in. I've always thought that birds with wing injuries should have a place to exercise before being released back into the wild. When completed, this facility will be the largest of its kind in NYS. I believe that many NY State Wildlife rehabbers will bring their birds here to finish recovery and then pick them up to take them back to where they were found for release.
I should probably catch everyone up with 2009. One of my many goals this year is to blog regularly to let everyone know what animals have come in--there are so many stories to tell for each animal. New Years Eve started with a baby lamb born to the Alaskan Dahl Sheep that I picked up last fall from another rescue facility. New Years Day, we received a small whitetail deer that was hit at Crossgates Mall. One of my students saw the deer get hit, thought it was dead and was going to throw it on the back of his truck, take it home and eat it.... The poor fawn must have thought that it was the lead character of a bad horror movie when it came out of shock on the floor in the back seat of his truck. I really wouldn't suggest putting a deer in your vehicle that has been hit by a car. I actually had two women bring me a fox in their trunk last fall (which I really wouldn't suggest either) but that is a story for my book. The beginning of January was busy. I got a call from a guy that had a skunk in his woodshed that he wanted evicted. I set a live trap and have caught a lot of interesting things but still haven't caught the skunk--but I will.
This time of year is when we get a lot of animals hit by cars. They feed and travel by roads since there is less snow and more food. January 5th, we received a Screech Owl that was hit by a car. The student from my school did everything right but, unfortunately, by the time they got it to me it had died. A couple of days later, some great folks brought me a pileated woodpecker (one of the big ones) that had been hit by a car; it wasn't looking too good and died shortly after arrival. It is depressing to see such cool animals check out. Doing what we do, you really need to focus on the "saves" not on the "would have, could have and should haves".
On January 8th, a DEC guy brought me a little Pine Siskin that was sitting by his bird feeder acting strange. I had a Goldfinch come in (no they don't always migrate) that had really bad conjunctivitis in its eyes. Over the last year, we have seen a lot of song birds come in with this eye ailment. It is fixable but it is fatal in the wild since they get blinded by the crust. The same day that the Goldfinch came we had a Coopers Hawk arrive. The folks rushed it to me and it was dead from the collision (by the sounds of things) with their deck sliding glass door. I don't know how close their birdfeeder is to their house but birdfeeders should be a safe distance away, yet close enough to enjoy the birds. This hawk was probably hunting the birds at their feeder.
I love raptors. Talons and sharp beaks: birds that hunt prey intrigue me. On January 28th, I was enjoying a snow day from school and the blizzard that came with it. Right about the second cup of coffee, after am chores got done, the phone rang. It was a call from about 30 minutes away on an owl that was sitting in the middle of a busy road. I returned the call and reluctantly came off the mountain to creep towards the half way mark (where we had agreed to meet) for the pick up. The Barred Owl didn't look too good. It was very thin, lethargic, and I wasn't optimistic. I got it back to the shop and got some fluids into it with a lactated ringer and it started to come back to life. Kelly Martin took him to fatten him up with her Barred Owls and I had the privilege of releasing the owl back into the wild where it was found with the folks that had saved it. The slideshow is on our website: check it out. That is what it is all about; the reason why we rehab wildlife.
We have had a couple of other screech owls come in, and some are still in rehab. One was actually taken out of the grill of a big rig by a trucker. In February, a DEC officer called me to give me the names and the number of some great folks that had saved a hawk. I met them part way, in a convenience store parking lot, to pick up the bird. Once I got up to fellow rehabber Kelly Martin's house we tag-teamed to see what was wrong with the bird. The Rough Legged Hawk isn't something that we pick up often. Part of the wing had been broken and we soon found a huge chest wound as well. The bird was stabilized and went to the vet the next day for surgery and still is in rehab. My gut feeling told me that it was a gunshot wound. It couldn't be proven, but it is a federal crime to shoot a bird of prey. I can't think of any reason why anyone would want to do such a thing. This bird is alive but it will most likely be unreleasable and will need to be put on our educational permits.
The last two mammals that came in were Brown Bats. I think that they came out of their winter stupor a little too early and got cold. They will be released back to where they were found when the weather gets warmer. Do you know that 20% of the earths mammals are bats? I think that they are awesome and they save billions of dollars in agricultural damage by eating all of the bugs over our crops. Two things alarm me with bats right now. The first is the white nose disease that appears to be destroying certain colonies of bats. The second is the huge numbers of bats that are being killed in windmill fields. These are things that make you go "hmmmmmm".
On that note, I've caught everyone up to speed and I can go back to normal blogs from now on. Right now, I need to go to the barn and say goodnight....
I'll be back soon, I promise,
PS: Thanks to everyone that has been sending donations for the llamas that I just picked up. We also still need to raise a lot of money to keep going on the raptor center construction. Please tell everyone that you know about us ... all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. See our sponsorship levels on our website and donate if you can, when you can. Thanks!