Today Sean and I went to capture a wounded seagull who was hobbling around the hospital parking lot in Sydney. It was a back lot and not salted, so we slid after the bird while she ran from us, dragging a wing. At the veterinary hospital, I assisted in her examination and x-ray, as I recently did with the eagle, and we discovered that her wing joint was shattered. There was nothing anyone could do to help her to heal and live a normal life. So I assisted again while Dr. Nicholson euthanized her. It was perhaps the saddest experience I've had thus far as a wildlife rescuer; chasing a strong, but injured bird and later feeling her heart slow and stop under my hands.
Euthanasia is the fate of many injured seagulls...more
Before you read any further, and if you are so inclined, please offer a kind thought or a prayer that our eagle regains the sight in her eye so that she can be released into the wild and hunt again.
Saturday evening, Hope for Wildlife posted a message to its private dispatch group that a Cape Breton man had found an injured eagle near his cottage. It was dark by the time I saw the message, and we were in for some bad weather overnight, so there wasn't any way to rescue the bird until morning. I called the man, and we made arrangements to try and find the bird together the next day, though he was worried she might be dead by then. He said she looked as though she had been hit with a shot gun, and while she could walk, she could not fly.
Sunday morning, Sean and I followed him up the Kempt Road to a place where the pavement ended. Then we continued around the hillside on a narrow and...more
Last night, I picked up an orphaned squirrel baby who had lost her mum and litter mate to a cat. She was a bit dehydrated, so I was up a couple of times through the night to rehydrate her, and now I'm starting her on a hydration/formula mix. Tomorrow I'll make the usual relay run to the causeway and leave her with another Hope for Wildlife volunteer, but for now, I thought I'd offer my customary blog entry on orphaned animal care, this time for squirrel babies:
➫ Squirrel babies have trouble regulating their own body temperature. Hot water bottles or heating pads (on a low setting) wrapped in a towel are great for this. Make sure the squirrel has a place to go if she gets too warm. I like keeping a towel and hot water bottle in half of the squirrel's space and a...more
I picked up an orphaned gosling in Margaree Forks today on behalf of Hope for Wildlife, and s/he is staying the night with us!
Here are some interesting gosling facts:
- Goslings can't regulate their own body temperature, so they need help staying warm. Hot water bottles or heating pads (on a low setting) wrapped in a towel are great for this. Make sure the gosling has a place to go if the heat becomes too warm! I like keeping a towel and heating pad in half of the gosling's space and a towel without a heating pad in the other half.
- Goslings like to eat chopped up grass and duck grower or chicken mash. Stay away from oatmeal. It expands a bit much in their little bellies. They also need plenty of water to drink. You can put some duck grower or chicken mash in the water, if you like. They like that.
- Goslings can splash a bit each day in a little bowl of water (neither too warm nor too cool), but they need to be supervised, and they should only be...more
We've just crossed the Canso causeway back into mainland Nova Scotia. It's 4:52 in the afternoon, our house paperwork is signed and there is a seal in our trunk that howls so loudly we're afraid to leave the car in a public place.
Perhaps I should backtrack a bit.
This morning actually began last night when I picked Sean up at the airport near midnight. An hour and a half later, we hit the sack knowing we'd have to be on the road early for a meet-and-greet with our new doctor in Cape Breton today. And so we were, coffee and toast in hand with me behind the wheel, which meant a few traffic laws were gently bent along the way.
We hit Guysborough in good time and were just about to cross the causeway when we spotted a seal pup in the middle of the highway. Cars and semi...more
I went on a long-haul animal pickup today on behalf of Hope for Wildlife to retrieve a lame goose under the care of some people in Clark's Cove. It was their belief that she had been hit by a car, since they had found her in the street, and she wasn't comfortable standing up. When I spoke with one of these people, she reported that the goose was docile, friendly and responded well to attention. As a wildlife rescuer, I worried about that, since it means she has been habituated to us. But Hope for Wildlife keeps a flock of lame geese on the farm, so habituation isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case. If she's lame but can eventually walk, she'll probably find a home there.
The road between...more
I received a call from Hope for Wildlife this morning about a newborn seal pup in Shelburne whose mother had been killed. The pup was so young it still had its umbilical cord attached, and the folks who rescued it had to cut it free from a stand of tall grass. Once they freed the pup, they began to feed it cow's milk and sardine juice and called Hope, who told them to stop. (For the record, unflavored Pedialyte provides electrolytes to thirsty wildlife babies and is usually safe to use in hydration. Beyond that, it's important not to feed them except under the supervision of a veterinarian or wildlife rescue person). Shelburne is a solid two and a half hours away from here, so Sean and I hopped in the car and headed down. Three quarters of the way there, I received a call from the folks who had the pup. Apparently, its mother wasn't dead after all and had returned. They put the pup back on the beach, and the mother took over, nudging it into the ocean. By the time we arrived to...more
Yesterday, among the many Saturday errands I was running, I picked up a wounded Great Horned Owl in West Northfield for transport to the Hope for Wildlife farm in Seaforth. On my way there, Allison at HfW called to ask if I would be interested in exchanging the owl with her for two rehabilitated Barred Owls in need of release on the South Shore.
Of course, this is the ultimate purpose of our work, that moment when those animals we can help are returned to the wild, still wild. We want them to flee from us, forget us and go back to the lives they were meant to have. So releases are special (and somewhat coveted among volunteers). I've never done one before, so to be offered two in a single day was really something, especially since one of them was 'mine', an owl I'd received from a DNR officer a couple of months ago and transported.
Allison and I met in Bedford to exchange the owls, and then I was off to Tantallon, where one of them had been found initially...more
This morning I drove out to Seaforth to volunteer in the gift shop for Hope for Wildlife's Old-Fashioned Christmas By the Sea. Fortunately, as I am not the volunteering-in-a-gift-shop sort, I was soon tasked with pickups and spent the day rescuing two injured crows.
The first was near downtown Halifax in a neighborhood largely populated with Dalhousie students and professors. The young woman who called the crow in gave excellent directions, and I found it beneath a tree beside a church parking lot, hobbled with what appeared to be a broken wing. Its companion high in the trees alerted it to my arrival and screeched a warning while I chased it into a corner of the church's architecture and covered it with a blanket. The crow went still, as most birds do when covered that way, and I was able to package it into a carrier and put it in the car.
The second was in a park near the Bedford Highway in...more