Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Snowball in October

No, I'm not talking about some freak weather system that went through the islands last month. I am talking about this little freak of nature. Meet Snowball!

The last of the interns mentioned how slow it was getting and I said, while knocking on a piece of wood, that they should be happy that we hadn't gotten in any "weaner" seal babies. These are the young seals that the mother has, after fattening them up, left to fend for themselves and, well, sometimes that drive to go get food doesn't kick in or they come to close to another grown seal and get injured. So, when these "weaner" seals come in, they are larger than the newborns , they are hungry, they have a bad attitude...."You aren't my mother, so quit messing with me and LEAVE ME ALONE!"...and they can back up this lovely attitude with a VERY grownup set of teeth. So, when Snowball landed on our doorstep in the 2nd week of October, all I could think was, "Well, I talked about it enough and here we go!" But then we got a good look at her. She's...well...tiny. And I don't mean weight-wise but length-wise. And, hey, look at her umbilicus, it looks kinda raw. And where are her weaner teeth? And that's when it hit us. She is a VERY late season BABY! That's worse than a weaner baby in my book, as they have a LOT more weight to make up for before we can release them. Thankfully she was eating whole fish right out of the gate, as that's the best way to put on a lot of weight very quickly. She is one of only two seal pups that we have left (we always try and release them with at least one other seal). She has finally graduated to the "big seal pool" and hangs out with her swim/release buddy, Geyser, all day long.

I THINK Snowball is the one in the foreground, but don't hold me to that!

It's been awhile since we visited the fawns and they are doing just great!

Don't they all look so grown up now? Some of you have asked me about our piebald fawn and how she is doing. It's hard to believe she was this tiny when she came in....

and now she looks like this!

Look at this face. Isn't she just GORGEOUS?!

Hunting season is once again upon us, so we will be waiting to release these guys until that is over, somewhere around the first week of December.

We have had a couple of owls come and go, but let's start with my favorite, the Barn owl. This guy came in looking like he had done a face plant against a window or had been hit by a car.

As you can see, he has issues with his right eye. When he came in, it was swollen/crusted shut. We had to flush it for days to get the eye open and when we did, the news was not good. He had no pupil vision and upon examination by a vet, it was found that he actually had a serrated abrasion that had ulcerated. He got eye ointment for a few weeks and then, when he had been eating on his own for a bit, was moved to the slatted flight cage. Now, maybe it's because he could only see out of one eye, but he was very skittish. One of the last times I dealt with him was when I undertook the task of going and collecting all the pellets he had regurgitated onto the bottom of his cage for Shona, our wonderful Educational Director/Rehabber. I was then informed by two interns that they had tried to do this earlier and he went after them, even to the point of landing on them. They were lucky they weren't hurt! One of them said they disliked owls and the other said she was just freaked out. I told them they both had bad “vibes” and that animals “feed” off of that and that I would go in and do it, as Barn owls are one of my faves! They both walked down with me, looking askance at one another, as if they thought I was crazy and would be out of that cage without picking up even one pellet once he started his aerial acrobatics. One of them did go to follow me into the cage but immediately jumped out and slammed the door when he started flying around. I found it VERY funny!!! I just crawled around and gathered up the pellets, ducking occasionally, while he flew about. Then, when he finally realized I wasn't going anywhere, he decided we needed to have a face-to-face about me being in his territory!

It's interesting being at eye level with an owl, which, since I was still on my hands and knees, I was. I couldn’t blame him one bit for being peeved at me, so I quickly took his picture, continued to ignore him while I gathered the few remaining pellets, and then left him to his domain. After determining that yes, he could catch live prey with just the one eye, we released him.

One of the other owls we got in was this handsome devil!

I love the fact that Great Horned owls seem to have this perpetual pissed off look! After what he had been through, though, no one can blame him if he was. He was found on a beach in Anacortes with a broken wing. Because he was run down and had been on the ground for awhile, he was also playing host to internal and external parasites. So he got the full works when he hit our doorstep. He got a Figure 8 wing wrap to immobilize the wing, he was given worming medication, he was sprayed for mites, and treated for foot fungus! He did have to be force fed for the first few days but then started eating on his own. We eventually removed the wing wrap and put him in an outdoor mew to let him get his newly healed wing limbered up a bit. When all went well there, we then transferred him to the Heron cage.

You can always tell by their body language when they are in a larger cage, as they never do the aggressive posturing, due to the fact that they are higher up, further away, and therefore don't feel as threatened. He was in there long enough to build up his flight muscles and he has since been released.

The raccoons are doing well. We have been catching the larger ones and releasing them, giving the smaller ones more elbow room and hopefully a better shot at the food!

Til next time...


Randi Swink said...

Hello, Heather! I took a chance and clicked on your "hollow happenings" weblog after seeing it linked through a Pioneer Woman comments section. First, I typically never read her comments. There are WAY too many these days. Second, I usually don't leave her site through a link. But, something made me today - and i'm SO glad I did. I enjoy your blog about Wolf Hollow as much as I enjoy her blog. (Pioneer Woman's that is...). It's completely sad for me that I live smack in the middle of Iowa. It makes volunteering along with you and others at Wolf Hollow an impossibility right now. Anyway, I really just wanted to say GREAT BLOG and keep it up!!! You could end up with thousands of readers like Ree and that could only mean great things for Wolf Hollow.
Thanks for the fabulous pictures and stories! It made my day to find your blog!

Randi said...

... and by the way ~ what kind of camera do YOU use???

Heather said...

Hi Randi and WELCOME! If you have read my one year anniversary post, you will see I started this blog under duress. :) But, when I actually get off my lazy behind these days and do a posting, it's a great creative release for me. So the fact that you like my blog as much as PW's is VERY flattering. Thanks!

As for what type of camera I use, I was using exclusively, up until about 5 months ago, a Kodak EasyShare DX6340. And I tell you what, the "Action" mode on it, which I shot exclusively in at Wolf Hollow, ROCKS! I will be donating this to the Wolf Hollow staff, since their camera has somehow gone missing.

Living on San Juan Island, however, I wanted to upgrade to something that has better optical zoom (12X - WOOHOO!) and had manual controls, which I am STILL trying to figure out. I did a LOT of research within my budget and ended up buying the Canon PowerShot S3IS. Now if I can just figure out how to get it setup to take action pics as well as my old camera did! :)

Shannon said...

The piebald fawn is so gorgeous now!!

Krista said...

wonderful blog. very fun to read. I love animals and it's nice to know people like you are out there taking care of them. Is there somewhere I can donate?


Krista said...

actually nevermind, i just saw the paypal link! :)

Heather said...

Thanks for the nice comments Krista and thanks for wanting to donate. They can certainly use it! I was the one who set up the PayPal account for them, so let me know if you have any issues with it!