Thursday, December 28, 2006

And now......

...back to our regularly scheduled blogging! Much has happened in the last 3 weeks, so let's get right to it, shall we?

Look at this GORGEOUS bird we got in!

This is a Tundra swan. The only discernable difference between them and Trumpeter swans is that yellow mark on their bill that leads to their eye. This beauty was found on nearby Orcas Island. It came in very emaciated, weak, and covered in avian lice.

Unfortunately, swans have a love of all things shiny and a good majority of the ones we see are suffering from lead poisoning due to eating lead buckshot or lead fishing weights. By the time we get them, it's too late to do anything for them. Serena, who helped out while our other rehabber was on vacation, said that in all the years she has worked there they have only had one swan that has survived to be released. This one didn't make it through the night.

We actually had a total of 3 swan patients in the last couple of weeks. We found a Trumpeter swan that was emaciated and it died the same day and another one hit the power lines near a pond they tend to congregate in and died before they could get to it. I am sure healthy birds can misjudge distances, but lead poisoning affects the neurological system of the birds first and therefore their eyesight can deteriorate enough for them to do that as well. Our city actually installed fluorescent hanging "tags" from these very same power lines to try and make them more visible to the swans, as these power lines are located along known flight paths of the swans when they come in to land on nearby ponds.

A lot of these tags seems to have come off in the windstorms we have had, so I am hoping there are plans to rehang some more of them.

This is the one animal that we get in that seems so strong, yet at the same time so vulnerable, that I just want to cradle them in my arms and WILL them to get better. If only it was that easy.

We had a Barred owl come in and I actually did the intake exam on it, with a lot of encouragement and help from Serena (Thanks for your patience with me Serena!).

Now, what's wrong with this picture? Yep, for the whole time we examined him, he acted like he was falling asleep! At first I found it amusing and then started to wonder if he had some neurological damage. Besides being very lethargic, he was dehydrated and was favoring his right eye a wee bit. I also had a VERY difficult time getting his beak open to look inside. So even though he was acting lethargic, he had his beak "clenched" the whole time. Serena actually called me the next day to apologize, as she admitted to thinking I had been "wimpy" when trying to open his beak and now she, after having to do the same thing to force feed him, had a VERY sore thumb!

We gave him some sub-q fluids and then gave him a homeopathic medicine for stress. He had to be force fed for a few weeks and everyone I talked to said they had never had to deal with a bird that was so difficult to force feed before. The next week, when we had to force feed him, I made a quip about needing a wedge of wood to help keep his beak open, but a Q-tip ended up doing the trick and made the feeding job a LOT easier! And it turns out that his "sleepy" behavior is just how his body handles stress.

He is doing just great now and last week we moved him to the slatted flight cage for some flying practice!

We have in two Cooper's hawks right now. The first one we got in right after our nasty wind storm. I had just remarked to someone earlier in the morning that I always worried a bit about the birds, as how did they survive such strong winds, when someone called to say they found a Cooper's hawk laying in a puddle of mud at the base of an uprooted tree.

His muddy feet and feathers weren't the only thing wrong with him. His left wing was drooping, but upon feeling for broken bones, we couldn't find any. But when we lifted his wing, we found the cause of the droop...a nasty wound in his shoulder!

You can see just how muddy he was, so the wound had to be flushed with saline and then scrubbed with Betadine. I held him but was constantly wincing in sympathy because it HAD to hurt. After it was cleaned and the edges plucked of feathers, we put Tagaderm over it. It's like a clear bandage, so they can keep an eye on it to see if it gets infected.

And while he could move his legs, he could not grip or stand and he had lack of muscle tone in his tail. So we thought he might have a spinal injury as well. We gave him sub-q fluids, a homeopathic drug for fear and stress, an antibiotic for his wound, and a non-steroidal drug for pain and inflammation.

When I came in last week and inquired about him, I was told that as of that previous Tuesday he still wasn't standing and they were considering euthanizing him. That is until Nikki, our rehabber, went in on Wednesday to examine him and he taloned her!

As you can see, he is now standing, albeit somewhat unsteadily, he is eating on his own, and his shoulder wound, free of infection, was operated on and stitched closed this past week.

Our other Cooper's hawk story is another one of those "What the HELL, people?!" stories. He was found on Orcas Island and was unable to stand. Upon examination and subsequent x-raying, it was discovered that someone had shot him! Again, people, if you are so bored and stir crazy living on the islands that you feel the need to shoot at anything that moves, it's time to move to the mainland!

The buckshot pellet had fractured his right femur and shattered one end into a couple of pieces. He underwent 3 hours of surgery and what they did was fascinating! They pinned his little leg. They ran pins along the bone, pinning the bone ends internally, and out either end of his femur. They then made a crossbar and attached it at one end along the two pin ends to keep the whole thing stabilized. Then the whole thing was wrapped up. At least I THINK that's what they did, if I understood it correctly as it was explained to me.

As of last Saturday he was standing, although he couldn't uncurl the foot on his injured leg, and was eating if you got the food in his beak.

He looks pretty good for a bird that was shot, doesn't he?

And last but not least was this interesting and very puzzling case we had with a Glaucous-winged gull we got brought to us on Saturday. A gentleman found him high up on a beach, unable to fly, and it was making these terrible gasping noises. It sounded to me like he was having problems breathing, like something was caught in his trachea or gullet. Nikki said it sounded like it was dying and sure enough it did during our examination. We finished examining it and could find nothing wrong with it from outward appearances. It wasn't even thin. So we decided to x-ray it to see if there was something going on internally that we couldn't see or feel.

This was the first time I got to be there when an animal was x-rayed so it was pretty interesting, as they have the film developer there as well. And here is what we found...

...absolutely nothing! No broken bones, nothing stuck in his crop or trachea...nothing! So we then decided to necropsy it as a final push at determining what had caused its demise. And guess what? He had NO LUNGS!!! I am serious people. We found some yellow grainy, infectious looking bits but that was it! We followed the trachea past the breastbone to about the liver and it veered off into air sacs but we didn't even see where the branches were that should have gone TO the lungs! We were so confused by the whole thing we even went to look at an avian anatomy book to make sure we were, well, NOT seeing what we WEREN'T seeing. It was VERY bizarre!

That's it for now. I joined the 21st century and got DSL, so I will be posting more regularly, as it was just getting too frustrating posting without it, hence the long lag time between postings.

Til next time...

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Eagle Flight Cage was a Snowstorm Casualty!

DAMN IT! I can't believe this has happened! This wonderful structure has held up for 7 years, but I guess the weight of over 12 inches of wet, heavy snow falling in such a short amount of time was just too much for it.


While we are VERY thankful that the eagle was not injured and was able to fly off, this is seriously the last thing this wonderful organization needs to deal with right now.

I think I have been pretty good up until now, as far as not using this blog to directly request that people make donations to Wolf Hollow. But people, if there ever was a time, it is now,
as it is going to take thousands to repair this. So I am imploring you readers, especially to any San Juan Islanders who read this, to please donate to Wolf Hollow to help them repair this crucial rehab element. Wolf Hollow does an amazing job helping the animals, the very animals that make these islands such a great and unique place to live. We have rehabbed eagles every year that I have been there and this flight cage is needed to help them learn to fly, including turning, which is so important to their survival. We have no other cage which can help the eagles accomplish that. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks for the fishy memories!

We have released the last of our seals.

After all the nasty weather we had, we were a bit anxious, wondering what the weather was going to be like. We shouldn't have worried. It ended up being a beautiful day and we got to introduce them to their new environment in calm waters.

It was also the quickest seal release I have ever been to, with all of them taking to the water the minute their crate doors were opened.

It was also one of those sad/happy moments when you realize just how empty Wolf Hollow will be without them there. But having time to spend out by the seal pool finally gave me a chance to get a picture of Limpet. You remember, she's the seal that came in with the wounds to the head and the bad eye.

Well, it's been interesting to see how this loss of an eye has affected her. And one of the things that slowly began to emerge was the fact that while the damaged eye shrank, the other eye GREW! I wanted to make sure it wasn't some pun intended here...optical illusion, but it wasn't. Problem was, the older she got, the more camera shy she became! And she NEVER hauled out onto the platform. So getting a picture of has been the biggest photo challenge I have had this year. Seriously, this is what I usually caught on film when trying to photograph her.

I was always just a FRACTION too slow. You could almost hear her mocking and japing me! But my infinite patience paid off with this picture I took while waiting to net her for release.

It's still not the best picture of her, but you get the gist. All of us came to an agreement that it must be nature's way of compensating for the loss of her other eye.

Let's move on to the other temporary residents of Chez Wolf Hollow. We got in a Bufflehead a couple of weeks ago. When found, she was thin and, like most animals that are ailing, had a heavy parasite load. The first time I saw her, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn't appreciate my interest in her, which is a good sign.

Isn't she cute?! She was eating well enough that by last week she was getting swim sessions to try and get her waterproofing up and running again.

My guess is that, if she hasn't been already, she will be released soon.

We released the five older raccoons and had the oh-so-fun task of catching the three smaller ones who were residing in the weaning cage so we could move them out to the woods to their final residence. Catching them was a HUGE challenge and let's just say that catching the first five, which we had raised from babies, was one HECK of a lot easier than these three, which were already youngsters when they arrived at Wolf Hollow. I don't have pics of this endeavor, as it was my job to hold open the crate door and then slam it shut after each of the screaming and biting youngsters was put in. But I do have pics of them being released in their new enclosure.

And of course, they did what one would expect raccoons to do after being freed from the dreaded carrier...they headed for the high ground!

The outdoor woods enclosure is interesting, as it has a big tree at the center, so it kind of looks like a circus tent. When we left, the three of them were trying their hardest to squeeze out the top.

We released the Merlin! First, we caught him so we could transfer him to the Heron Cage to make sure he could fly well, including turning and landing.

While he wasn't thrilled about being handled, he passed his flying test and when he wouldn't self-release, i.e. fly out the door, we had to catch him again and then.....

That's it from the frozen San Juan Islands.

Til next time...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Keep Your Head Down, Tucker!

Yes! Finally, after WEEKS of nasty weather, we released Tucker the turkey today! But before we could release him, we had to catch him!

While this isn't a great picture of Tucker, it gives you a good idea of what we were up against today. One person held a towel and tried to head him off while another person had a net.

The net won. Once we untangled him, we placed him in a kennel and drove out to a nice big piece of private property that had plenty of room for him to run around and other turkeys for him to get to know. At first, it seemed like he couldn't wait to get out of the kennel and start exploring.

And then after the kennel door was opened he seemed...well...

confused or scared, you decide. Finally someone went towards the back of the kennel and he did an abrupt about-face and made a run for it!

Last we saw, he was cruising around his new digs. And while we are painfully aware that Thanksgiving is only a week away, we really felt like we needed to take advantage of the break in the weather to let him go free. And while there is no hunting on this property, I still hope he keeps his head down for the next week or so!

Til next time...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guess what I got to do?!

For the first time since I have been volunteering, I got to catch seals for weighing!! And yes, by starting out like this I am hoping to blithely gloss over the fact that I haven't posted for a month. I was out of commission for 2 weeks and didn't volunteer during that time, but that really doesn't excuse the fact that I have been back volunteering for 3 weeks and nary a posting in sight. Sorry about that folks!

Now, catching seals has always looked fun, if not more than a bit difficult, but I finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago! I think our five remaining seals must have felt more than a bit sorry for me, as it wasn't that difficult at all. My main worry was that I would get SO engulfed in trying to net then that I would step off the center platform, but nope, it went very smoothly!

I don't know if it's because they have never seen me on the platform before, but all the seals were VERY interested in me. That's Medusa on the left and Tsunami on the right. And, after they have been through the weighing trauma, well, they realize their turn is over and will even haul their little butts onto the platform with you. This is Tsunami taking a quick breather.

Look how big she is! She was going to be one of two seals we released this past Saturday, but the weather was really bad, so they will be released tomorrow. With only five seals left, the end of "seal season" is in sight.

The otters are still doing great and still eating like there's no tomorrow. Having not fed them in awhile, I forgot the unspoken rule that one should always give them their fish first and THEN go put their dry food in the drawer.

I was so worried they were going to squeeze out of the drawer if I opened it any further, which they have been known to do in the past, that I stopped and went and fed them their much anticipated fish.

They will be leaving us within the month, as the "this is my territory" season should be up by then.

Now, as a side note, although I am sure this comes as no surprise, there are all sorts of cool things floating around the Wolf Hollow property and if it catches my eye, I am taking a picture of it. Well, this past Saturday it was very foggy. In fact, I don't think it's ever been this foggy on a day that I volunteered.

So of course everything had all these dew drops over it, including the spider webs!

Yep, spiders and bats....I love them both!

Remember the two baby grey squirrels we got in? Well they are full grown now and are making themselves right at home in the Mammal Cage. Here is one of the squirrels peeking out of the nest box we have in there.

These squirrels will soon be sent back off island and released, as they are doing just fine.

We got another Red-tailed hawk in. Speaking of Red-tailed hawks, I forgot to mention that we released the one that had gotten run over! WOOHOO! This guy was found on the ground outside of a house. We think it hit a window of the house or it was hit by a car.

He was initially sent to another rehab place where upon examination he kept listing to one side and fell down quite a bit. He was then given steroids for a few days to help alleviate any swelling he might have, as it's obvious from his head being cocked to one side that he has neurological damage. We are keeping our fingers crossed as the tilting has lessened a bit and he has no problems standing now. Also, that being said, his injury, whatever it may be, has not had a negative effect on his appetite!

We also got in a Merlin. When found, his left wing was drooping yet none of the long wing bones were found to be broken. This usually means that either his "shoulder" bone or "collar" bone is probably fractured. This would amount to us breaking our scapula or clavicle.

The smaller hawks tend to get VERY stressed out in situations like this, so instead of wrapping the wing to the body, like we would for other birds, we taped the flight feathers of the drooping wing to his tail feathers. This way it's not as constricting for him.

Look at this Rock Dove. Isn't it cute?

He can stand and grip but his legs can't hold his weight for very long. He is believed to be a late season baby and didn't get the nutrition he needed for healthy bone growth. He has metabolic bone disease, or, in human terms, rickets. To combat this, we give extra vitamins and calcium in his food.

That's it from my end. Tucker the turkey is set to be released, weather permitting, sometime this week. I will be sure to post that update when it happens. Til next time...

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm Not Sure Where To Begin.....

It seems like YEARS since I last did a post, so let me try and catch you all up on all the happenin's at the Hollow.

First, let me start off by having you look at this little cutie! Its' a Small Brown Bat!!!

I am sure I have expounded before about how much I just LOVE bats. And while I never think it's a good thing that ANY animal has to pass through our doors, there are some that get my blood racing a bit more than others and bats are one of those creatures!

From what I was led to understand, some locals came home from a long weekend away to find that the curtains in front of a window in their home had been shredded by their cat. They then found out that was because this little guy had somehow gotten himself in between the window and screen and couldn't get out. He came in dehydrated and hungry. Now, we have only had one other bat in that I have gotten to see and the situation was a "hurry up and take the pic because we are releasing him" situation. I actually got to help FEED this one!!

He's a good little eater, isn't he?! Now, what, you may ask, do you feed the likes of him? Well, we feed them bloodworms and meal worms. And with the meal worms you have to.....hold on to your stomachs....tear off the heads and squeeze the body from the tail up, just like a toothpaste tube, to get the insides out onto the tweezers. It is NOT a fun process. And it was a bit of a moral dilemma that I have been trying not to think about too much, as it means I am valuing one animal's life over another's. Needless to say I apologized to each meal worm and killed it as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Did I ever show you this guy? It's a Green Heron.

Now, believe it or not, this guy freaked me out WAY more than any large Great Blue Heron. I mean, look at him after we put him in an outdoor aviary!

He just stares at you down his beak with those yellow eyes...freaked me out so much I started calling him "sir", as in "Please, Sir, don't fly at me and peck my eyes out." VERY unnerving!!

I can't begin to tell you how much I adored this little one when he came in!

This is the VERY FIRST cormorant I have gotten to work with and this one is a youngster. He was so cute and very docile.....too docile. If you have read this from the beginning you know by now that my theory is that if an animal comes in and isn't throwing a fit about being messed with, then something is wrong. And something was. He didn't make it but a few days and then died. They did a necropsy on him and he had all sorts of internal weirdness going on.

Meet Tucker the Turkey!

Bet you didn't know we had a wild turkey population on our island....did ya? Well, that's okay, as I didn't either until I spotted this guy in the middle of the road by my place. We think the nearby logging ruined his habitat so he was just hanging out in the street. I know that I personally got out of my car more than once to shoo him off the road. And WH staff kept getting calls from a lady nearby saying people were DELIBERATELY trying to hit him!?! Once you get to that point people, it's time to leave the island!! But get hit he did, deliberately or not we don't know. He came out of it with a broken wing/wrist bone, hence the green figure eight wrap on his wing, and a big patch of skin missing under his other wing. But he is doing just great and will be released with another group of turkeys well away from any roads and stir crazy motorists.

The fawns have lost their spots and with that their rights to formula. It's always a bit weird weaning them as they are bottle fed for so long. Aren't they just gorgeous?!

We got this red-tailed hawk in after a girl ran over it with her car, drove I don't know how many blocks with it trapped under her car, got to her place of employment, ran over it again when backing into her parking space, and then just walked away to her job. This was witnessed by a former WH volunteer who immediately called for help for this poor thing. On the outside, he only had a scratch on the foot. On the other hand, after we tubed him to give him fluids, there was fresh blood on the tube, so we have no idea what may be happening to him on the inside.

I mean, WHAT THE HELL PEOPLE?! If you hit an animal, stop and see if it is still alive. If it is, call someone for help or take it to a vet office. If it's dead, show the animal some respect and move it off the road!!! GODS, this is SUCH a pet peeve of mine!!! Sigh. Okay, I'm done ranting now and am most likely just preaching to the choir on that subject.

Well let's end this posting on a brighter note. And that means a Sedna update!!!! This picture was taken of her hanging out amongst other sea lions at the end of August!

Picture courtesy of Matt Tennis. Thanks Matt!!

She's the one in the center that looks like she is wearing a pillbox hat, which is her tracking device. It has since stopped working and will fall off the next time she molts. According to Matt, she looks great and is healthy and hopefully happy being amongst her own kind once again. What a great success story for Wolf Hollow and all the other folks at the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife who helped her.

That's it for now. I won't be at Wolf Hollow this upcoming weekend but will try, for any of you interested, and get a personal blog going to post pics of my sister's wedding and of Riley, who has been turning my household upside down and backwards for a week now! Til next time...