Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where Have all the Babies Gone?

What a weird baby season we have been having. As of June 1, we had 10 less animals in than we did last year, and that's including the 19 mallard babies we had in last year at this time!?! It's not like we had a really cold and snowy winter, like we did last year, which is the reason most of us thought last year's baby season was so slow (Ed. Note: My sister Shannon has pointed out that while we may have not gotten a lot of snow here on the Island this past winter, the Puget Sound had its coldest winter on record and that may have affected the baby season everywhere in the Puget Sound region. She went on to say that "baby season" could just be delayed a bit. She has a point. Time will tell!) While it's always best if the babies stay with their parents, it's also just a bit odd for us to be this slow. Having said that, let's get to the residents that we have had in since my last post.

We got in this beautiful Evening Grosbeak from the mainland.

He was the only survivor of a group of 4 that ran into a window trying to escape from a Sharp-shinned hawk. By the time I took this picture, he had recovered enough from his run in with the window to be in one of the outdoor aviaries. He was released shortly after this.

We got in another Rufous hummingbird. This juvenile came to us from the mainland with reports that it was having difficulties flying, perching, and whatnot.

By the time we got it, it seemed to be just fine. We kept it for a few days for observation and then released it. Problem was that it decided to do the "live version" of that great Dr. Seuss book "Are You My Mother?" Any time someone walked out the front door it flew over to them, sometimes even trying to land on them, looking for food! So when I came in on Saturday, I saw for the first time since I have been there, a hummingbird in one of our outdoor aviaries. And at that point it wanted NOTHING to do with people and stayed as far away from me as possible. It was released a few days later, never to be seen again.

Look at these cuties!

Well....I think they're cute! They came in with their mother, who died in transit. There are five of them and I had tried to get a picture of them earlier in the month, but all I saw was their tails and rear ends. They have since been moved outside to the Orchard cage where they have their hammock to hang out in.

Did I ever tell you that Wolf Hollow was involved in the San Juan Island Western Bluebird reintroduction program this year? Yep, they built a permanent aviary on our grounds....

and there were two pairs that were housed and released from there, one after the other.

Then it turns out that one of the many pairs released all over the island had a clutch and one of the youngsters wasn't doing as well as the others.

So he was brought to us so he can get enough food and build up enough strength, at which time he will be released.

You know, up until a month ago, I had never gone on a fawn assessment call, as a lot of our fawns come from off-island and most of the San Juan Island calls come when I am not there. So, when an opportunity arose on a Saturday for me to go on one, I took it. The story behind this is that a guy called, saw a doe and two fawns come out of the woods right by his house, when one of the fawns fell over and stayed all sprawled out with it's head flung back, while the doe and other fawn walked into the forest and never looked back. Now, we know that does can leave their fawns curled up in "hiding mode" for a few hours while they go off, but it's the way this gentleman described how the fawn was all sprawled out, not even having the energy to curl up (he said after waiting for awhile he went over and moved his neck and head to a more natural position) that got out attention. And when we got there, we found this:

He's just so teensy tiny. After observing him for a few minutes, we went ahead and did a field exam.

Even with help, he had quite a bit of trouble standing and usually ended up in this position:

It wasn't until we got him back to Wolf Hollow on level ground that we saw what the issue was....weak tendons in his feet.

They were turning this way....

...and that way. No wonder he had no chance of keeping up! This had no affect on his appetite, however, as he grabbed onto the bottle and wouldn't let go!

Luckily, one of our wonderful local vets had seen something similar to this in newborn colts and thought that a leg wrap on the weakest leg for a few days would let the tendons strengthen. She came and wrapped his leg later that day. I tried to get a picture of the wrapped leg the next day, after we put him outside for the day in one of the Mobile pens, but he wasn't having any of that!

As of last week he was doing so well he was out in the big Fawn pen with the others....we had six at last count....fighting with the others for bottle time.

This has also been a year of people removing mother animals during baby season, which is completely UNCONSCIONABLE, in my book, to do at this time of year folks. If you have a building you want to use during the summer or holes under your abode, do a check on possible unwanted inhabitants early in the year, like in February, and take care of the situation at that time. Because of this not being done earlier, we have ended up with babies that would have been MUCH better off with their parents. We have a group of five raccoon babies because of this.... well as a pair of otter kits that were left for a few days before being found.

The otter kit on the bottom, the one that looks more than a bit the worse-for-wear, was so weak and dehydrated when it came in that it died later that Saturday. Needless to say, we were all VERY upset about that, as that was a situation that didn't need to happen. So, because otter kits do better in groups, we had one that was by her lonesome at another rehab center brought up as company for our remaining guy. And boy, is she a cutie!

She is at the tail end of the "drinking formula from a bottle" phase, if she would actually USE a bottle that is. Turns out she won't have anything to do with the rubber nipples, so she just gets fed from a huge syringe. Which in turn is a VERY messy process.

And since pictures are great, but video is better, here is a short clip of her...eating.

Til next time...