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July 11, 2017 > Our wildlife friends are here again!

Our wildlife friends are here again!

By Pat Kite

A Central Park Ranger rescued a female Barn Owl, who somehow managed to get itself entangled in a kite string hanging from a tree. David Anderson, our Wildlife Center Manager and Registered Veterinary Technician, noted, ÒThis is an extremely lucky owl.Ó Its only injury was to the outermost five primary flight feathers. Usually entanglements such as this do not have such happy endings. The bird usually hangs from its wing for hours before being noticed. During this time, irreversible damage to the ligaments and bone occur from the birdÕs struggle to free themselves. In most of these cases the damage is so severe that the birds must be euthanized.

After examining the owl, David was amazed that the bird had only sustained damage to the five (of nine) primary flight feathers on the right wing. With the help of Isabel and Nicole of Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward, we ÒimpedÓ (implanted) donor feathers on her wing and released her the following evening. Our Migratory Bird Permit allows us to keep a bank of donor feathers, harvested from birds of prey hen the feathers are naturally shed.

Donor feathers must be clearly labeled and kept in order. It can take up to a year for some birds of prey to molt. Broken or missing feathers can confine a bird to captivity during this time, but by replacing damaged, broken or missing feathers, we can help the bird return to the wild, which is the goal of wildlife rehabilitation. Indeed, this was an extremely lucky Barn Owl.

On the much smaller side, a two-gram AnnaÕs hummingbird baby was found in a Fremont yard. It went into home care with our hummingbird champion Ange Roberts and was fed every 20 minutes until self-feeding. It was eventually released.

An adult grey fox was helped from a dumpster by David. It is not so easy to rescue a fox from a dumpster, as David found out. However, after x-rays on its legs, Mr. Fox was released to wander more sensibly.

Skunks are DavidÕs favorite animals, and in came five youngsters from Oakland. They were found huddled together on a home pathway, Òweak, listless, cold and dehydrated,Ó and with fleas. They had a comfy life for a month; now released, I sincerely hope they are not now in my backyard. We recently had 19 skunks at the rehabilitation facility and five are still in home care.

A visitor from Columbia, California rescued a white-throated swift from Fremont traffic. After several days of home-care the swift was released. Our renown continues. A Chestnut-baked Chickadee came down when someone chopped down their nesting tree. It did well after two weeks of aviary care and meal worm feeding every half hour.

From Newark High came a little Cliff Swallow who apparently thought a window was an exit. Perhaps she didnÕt like Geometry Class. It is now flying around, perhaps looking at alternate education.

Mrs. Opossum also was a little casual about her whereabouts. She and six toddler Opossums were snuggling inside a Newark firmÕs electrical panel. When discovered, Mom took off. The youngsters, four boys and two girls, were relocated to our Wildlife Rehab Center. Here they thrived on smelt, fruit, hardboiled eggs, canned cat and dog food, and meal worms. Three weeks later, off they went to find their own watermelon, grapes and bananas.

Oodles of opossums came our way. Some folk think opossums are sort of homely. But the babies are cute, as babies are. Even the grownups are artistic looking, like Andy Warhol paintings.

Rescuers came from Newark, Fremont, Oakland, Livermore, Union City, Columbia, CA, San Jose, Alameda, Sunnyvale, Hayward, San Ramon, San Francisco, and Pleasanton. Why do folk come sometimes great distances to bring us a wounded animal? People tell us in their notes; for instance: Òthe baby ducks were stranded, hungry and cold for three days straight;Ó Òabandoned baby hummingbirdÉbrought in by concerned citizen;Ó towhee Òcannot fly or live by itself and lots of predators in backyard;Ó American crow, Òlooked scared and a little beat up;Ó fox squirrelÕs rescuer said, Òhumanitarian; I hope it recovers and goes back home;Ó cedar waxwing Òneeded help;Ó Pigeon rescuer Òjust feel[s] sad.Ó

HereÕs part of our early season roster: Mourning doves, American crows, California towhees, house finches, AnnaÕs hummingbirds, California gull, Virginia opossums, Fox squirrels, pigeons, Mallard ducklings, turkey, Eurasian collared dove, Lesser goldfinch, barn owls, Cedar waxwing, sparrow, Dark-eyed junco, Ring-billed gulls, CooperÕs hawks, Ring-neck doves, striped skunks and skunklings, King snake, Mockingbird, Pied-billed Grebe, American robin, red-tailed hawks, American coot, chestnut-backed chickadees, grey fox, Cliff swallow, White-throated swift, Black-crowned night heron and a Mole.

Special thanks to the compassionate members of the public who often are the first responders, the dedicated Animal Control Officers who aide us through rescue and transport, the volunteers especially Angela Hartman, Volunteer Coordinator and infinite praise to the OHS Board and our membership without whom the OHS donation-supported Wildlife Center would not survive.

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