Sunday, January 04, 2009

2008 Wrap Up

Hello and Happy New Year everyone....well, I mean to those of you who have still hung in there with me! Yes, I know I was pretty lame about posting updates in 2008. I am hoping to be better about it this year! But before this year really gets rolling, I thought I would update you on what's been happening over the last few months. While it was pretty quiet, I did experience some firsts, which is hard to believe after being there for over 4 years now! Let's start off with this beauty!

If memory serves, and lets face it, sometimes it doesn't, I believe we have only had one other of these in since I have been with Wolf Hollow. This is a Peregrine falcon, and it came to us from downtown Bellingham with a broken wing. It was taken to an off-island rehab center who then contacted us, since we had larger flight cages. We clarified that they had X-rayed it and it wasn't so bad that we would have to euthanize it upon arrival. They said the vet had looked at it, said it was a clean break, and thought it would heal nicely. Then we got the bird into Wolf Hollow and THIS is what we saw on the X-ray
we took.

Need a closer look? Here you go.

Uhh....yeah. That's what's known as an oblique radial fracture. Now, in birds other than ones in the raptor category, this might not be a problem. But in a raptor, and one that hunts "on the wing" no less, well, it was going to be a challenge. So Penny called around and ended up taking it off-island to have the wing pinned. I got to see it for the first time when she brought it back and changed the dressing.

It looks kinda gross, but it was the only way to stabilize the fracture well enough to let the bone heal. Here is an X-ray of the pinned bone:

Even with the pinned wing bone, it was still quite feisty and had no problems eating on its own.

We also placed a tail guard on its tail feathers so he wouldn't ruin them while in the cage. After the pinning surgery it was given pain meds for the first few days and antibiotics for a week or so. After 2 weeks the wing was X-rayed again and he had messed with it enough that the head of the tie pin had broken off and the pin was starting to come out.

Because it looked calcified enough that a wing wrap could keep it in place for the healing to finish, the pin was completely removed. We eventually started slowly exercising the wing and eventually it was moved outside to the Blackberry Cage to get more flight time in and to build it's flight muscles back up.

And when it did fly, it was fast!

It was released a few weeks later.

And now, for the first "first"! I think everyone who has read this blog regularly knows my love of owls. Well, there has been one owl I have wanted to see and the few (1-2) that we have gotten in have never made it past the first day or so, cause they are so tiny. And that is the Pygmy owl. It's one of the tiniest in the world and as such has very little reserves if it does get hurt. So I was very excited when I heard we might be getting one in! I called Penny and said "Is it alive? Is it here?" to which she replied "No and no!" Needless to say I was very bummed. But then, not even a week later we got ANOTHER call about one and it DID make it to us.

Just LOOK at it!

It makes our Saw-whet owls look HUGE! It stands around 5 inches or so in height and they are known to be ferocious hunters, sometimes even going after birds twice their size! This one came in from Mt. Vernon with head trauma. Upon arrival, its left eye was swollen shut and it had some dried blood in its mouth. We gave it eye drops and an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for a few days. After being hand-fed for the first few days it started eating on its own.

After 5 days it was doing well enough that I setup Aviary 1 and placed it out there for some flight time before we released it.

He looks so defiant, doesn't he?! I officially dubbed them the Chihuahuas of the bird world! Unfortunately, 3 days later he was found dead and we have no idea why. We are in the midst of rebuilding the Eagle Flight cage. Did the noise bother him? We just don't know. We are in the process of trying to acquire motion sensor video cameras to put out with animals so we can monitor them, even when we can't be there. Needless to say we were all quite upset.

And then, not even a week later, we got a call about ANOTHER Pygmy owl! What the?! This one hit a window in the town of Concrete.

And then 4 days later we got ANOTHER one in! Man, when it rains Pygmy owls, it POURS! This one was stunned by a car. I am always surprised that ANY of the smaller birds survive a run-in with a moving vehicle. This one improved quickly and was moved to an outdoor mew, away from the noise and whatnot, a few days later.

It did so well it was released a short time later. After we released this one, we placed the other one out there as well.

This one did exceptionally well also and was released shortly thereafter! WOOHOO!

My other "first" was this cutie!

It's a Flying Squirrel!! They are the only squirrel we have on this island, but this wee one came from Burlington. It was found in the wheel-well of someone's car and the only way they knew it was there was the fact that a cat was sitting there staring at it! Although we couldn't find any puncture wounds, we did give it antibiotics as a precautionary measure. We have a local person doing DNA studies to see if our island population is related to the off-island population, so he came by and took a bit of blood for that study. I just wanted to study its face!

It stayed with us for only about 10 days and it moved around so much that the only other pic I got of it was blurry!

You get the point. It was shipped back off-island and was released.

While we regularly get in Grey squirrels in from off-island, we also got in this little one late in the summer!

We weren't exactly sure which kind of squirrel it was and weren't sure it was even going to make it. She came in very lethargic, very cold, and covered in fleas. This is the first time I had seen her and this is right after I had taken her out of the incubator, which was set at 80 degrees. She was torpid and FREEZING! She was obviously having major problems with thermo-regulating her body temperature. We ended up placing her on hand warmers to get her body temperature up. Even when we fed her she seemed out of it.

Make it she did, though, and it turns out she was a Fox squirrel. Fox squirrels are HUGE in comparison to the Grey squirrels we usually get in. After she got big enough, we did put her out in the Mammal Cage with the rest of the squirrels.

Our Grey squirrels didn't look to pleased and hung out in their nest boxes a lot. But she certainly turned out to be a BEAUTY and had LOTS of attitude, as you can tell by the swishing tail!

She was shipped back off-island with the rest of the squirrels and was released. She has to be one of our best success stories of 2008!!

We have had 2 Saw-whet owls in over the last few months. The first one was found in Anacortes on someone's doorstep. We believe it flew into their glass door. They left it there for a couple of days before taking it to a vet, who then sent it to us. By this time it was very dehydrated and emaciated. I am always so baffled by people who leave an animal they find in a strange place for that long before getting the animal help. Folks, if you find an animal on the ground and it is still there, in the same place, after an hour or so, something is most likely wrong with it and it needs help! Call someone! Sigh.

It came in looking like it was severely hung over. It didn't want to open its eyes at all and with it being emaciated, we had to slowly reintroduce calories to it, at first in the form of a slurry that we tube fed it. This is so we could make sure its body was actually processing what it was being fed. The next step was boneless meat, like venison. Only after we knew it was digesting that well did we go onto mouse pieces.

Even moving it seemed painful to it but we had to get it out to force feed it and eventually start getting it moving a bit.

Slowly but surely it became less squinty-eyed.

But it was still so mellow, which is the exact opposite of what they are normally like. We all got very attached to her while caring for her....

...especially Shona, who had a Saw-whet as an Educational bird when I first started volunteering here. Shona had decided that if she never got back her Saw-whet attitude, that yes, she would keep her as an Ed bird. Then we decided to put her outside in Willow's mew. Willow was the name of the Saw-whet that Shona had. And she changed while out there. She became more active. She started flying on her own and was eating on her own!

She became a true Saw-whet owl again and will be released soon. Then we got another one in! This one was found by the side of the road, I believe in Sedro-Woolley. We think it face-planted on a car and, again, I am so surprised it even survived the encounter!

Because it can only see out of its right eye, it always cocks its head when it looks at something. And whereas you could tell in the early days that it was hurting too much to even open its mouth wide enough for us to force-feed it, that quickly changed, over the next week or so, to grabbing the food out of the tweezers and eating it on its own. Observe!

First, the tweezer grab!

Then, the transfer of the food to the foot.

Then the tearing of the food into bite-sized pieces.

And then the eating of said pieces!

It's REALLY cool to watch this process!


Yes, there is one other animal that I will tell you about soon....

...but that's another posting for another night. Til next time...


Penny said...

awww.... I soo happy I can breath again. Good Job Heather.

Heather said...

Now I can breathe a bit easier as well. Thanks PH!

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to read your latest post. I miss reading what's going on at Wolf Hollow! Thanks for all you do. Joy

Kari said...

About time! Thanks for bringing we few hanger-on-ers u to date! Cheers!