Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Fellow Mortals is more than a place. It is a living philosophy based on the belief that encouraging compassion in humans toward all life brings out the finest aspects of our humanity. Fellow Mortals provides excellent medical care to injured and orphaned wild animals entrusted to the hospital by the public. Fellow Mortals continues to advance treatment for the most critically injured and compromised animals admitted for care, demonstrated by a continued high rate of recovery and release back to the wild. Fellow Mortals also attempts to limit the number of animals admitted for care each year by offering public education to prevent unnecessary injury and orphaning, thereby reducing the total n...
Feb 6, 2012

Chicken Tractors & Red-tailed Hawks

Red-tailed Hawk release, photo Karen McKenzie
Red-tailed Hawk release, photo Karen McKenzie

We received an interesting call yesterday about a red-tailed hawk 'caught in a chicken tractor.'  A 'chicken tractor' you ask?  That was my question too, as before I go on a rescue I like to know what I can expect when I get to the animal.

As it turns out, a 'chicken tractor' is a moveable cage, shaped like an A-frame on wheels.  There is a little door in which chickens can go in and out and the entire structure can be moved about easily.

I sometimes think of red-tailed hawks as big brown chickens, especially when I watch them walking about on the floors of their flights looking for food.  They are so graceful in flight, but not so much on the ground...

When I got to the caller's house, they directed me to the 'tractor' and, sure enough, there was a big brown red-tailed chicken inside, quite puzzled as to why he had entered in the first place.

It was an easy rescue, since I had a net and controlled the door, and he did seem a little sheepish (more farm-yard analogies for this poor bird) when I lifted him out, but after assessing that there was no lasting damage, he was free to return to his mate, who watched disdainfully from a perch a distance away, as if to say, ' what trouble have you gotten into this time?'

An easy rescue with a happy ending with the bonus of learning something new!

Postscript  When we get a call like this, we don't ask "will you donate if we come out to help?"  As with so many of our rescues and animal admits recently, the people who need us are unable to make a donation, but we help anyway--something that is only possible because of the generosity and compassion of people like you.

Thank you for making a difference for wild creatures and the people who find them in need of help.



Jan 17, 2012

Wild Foster Parents raise orphans right!

Eaglet with foster at Raptor Education Group
Eaglet with foster at Raptor Education Group

Thousands of animals admitted to Fellow Mortals complete their entire rehabilitation process with us:  starting with critical care provided in the hospital, then progressing to a recovery room when they can feed themselves again and fractures are stable or injuries are healing.  From recovery they proceed to a pre-release area or outside habitat and then, when able to live and survive in the wild--are released.

We are grateful for the support that has made it possible for us to provide so much care for so many different species, and on the occasion when an animal needs something we can't provide here at Fellow Mortals, we're fortunate to be able turn to a friend in the rehabilitation community who can help.

Baby animals, especially birds, imprint when very young, learning what they are (eagle/owl/robin, etc.) from the being that feeds and tends to them when they are helpless.  A baby bird raised alone and without its own kind may survive, but will not have the 'social skills'--the vocalizations, the physical postures, the normal behaviors--to be accepted into  a society of its peers once returned to the wild and, if it truly identifies itself with humans, could pose a danger if released to the wild.

Foster parents are birds or mammals that are permanently crippled in some way and cannot be released to the wild.  The individual animals who become foster parents are unique in that they have been able to adapt to a life in captivity and retain normal behaviors. Giving these individuals a chance to be parents to orphaned young gives them at least something of what they miss not being able to live in the wild.

In 2011, along with nearly 1400 other animals, we admitted three bald eagles, including a days-old eagle baby from a caring person who found the nest on the ground, chilled and starving after a tornado destroyed its 'cradle' high  in a tree.  The eagle parents did not come down to the baby and so the woman who had watched the nest and found the eaglet brought it to Fellow Mortals where we slowly and carefully warmed the eaglet, gave fluids and moved the baby onto a meat slurry as it gradually gained strengh and finally was able to take small pieces of meat.

Fellow Mortals is privileged to provide care to many permanent foster parents that live with us year-round, with permission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  They include "Alberta," a great-horned owl, "Hannah," a Canada goose, "Sophie," a barred owl, and "Thomas," a blue jay--to name a few.  All of these special individuals serve one purpose:  to provide role models for the orphaned young brought to us for care every year, making sure they not only grow up strong, but grow up wild.  What we do not have is a foster bald eagle, but a rehabilitator friend, Marge Gibson of Raptor Education Group, does, and once 'our' little eaglet was stable and ready to travel it went to join its foster dad eagle and Marge up in Antigo, Wisconsin.

This kind of networking represents the best of what rehabiltiators do--working together to make sure that the wild ones brought to us for care get the optimal chance to survive and thrive once they are released.  This Saturday, 'our' baby was released--no longer a downy chick but a beautiful 12 pound immature female.

Back at Fellow Mortals, our fosters are enjoying a quiet winter of having the meal worms all to themselves, no one crowding them on the perch or in the nest and no one begging to be fed every 15 or 20 minutes but, come spring they, like us, will be very excited to make room in the hospital and in our nests for the new little ones who need us.

Thank you for the support you give that makes all these stories possible.

"Alberta" foster great-horned owl with orphans
"Alberta" foster great-horned owl with orphans
"Hannah," foster Canada goose with orphan
"Hannah," foster Canada goose with orphan
"Benjamin," Eastern Screech Owl, with orphans
"Benjamin," Eastern Screech Owl, with orphans
Mother Goose, with orphan
Mother Goose, with orphan
Great-blue heron, injured mature & immature
Great-blue heron, injured mature & immature


Dec 30, 2011

Thank you for giving the wild ones a voice!

"Buddy," queen of the courtyard
"Buddy," queen of the courtyard

You've met the challenge and succeeded!  Congratulations and Thank You!

Fellow Mortals' first goal of $4,000 was actually exceeded by over $1,000--thanks to all of you who donated during the Global Giving Challenge!

Because you helped us meet our goals in this challenge, the wild ones at Fellow Mortals now have a voice that can be heard around the world through the Global Giving web site, and we have some much-needed funds to buy food, medicine and other supplies needed by our wild patients.

Fellow Mortals' mission was born from the need of one orphaned cottontail rabbit.  His precious life was an education and a gift; 26 years later, our work continues as a tribute to that little rabbit who has so far been responsible for another 30,000 wild creatures receiving a second chance. 

One life--human or not--can make a tremendous difference.

The little squirrel in the picture was brought to us starving, unable to eat due to a fractured jaw and maloccluded teeth--the result of being shot with a b.b. gun and having a b.b. embedded in her lower jaw.  She survived and recovered, stronger than ever.  Over two years later, she has established herself in a new territory and meets crows and other squirrels on her own terms and has numerous nest building projects to keep her busy inbetween burying nuts and eating seeds.

Fellow Mortals mission is simple:  We want to make sure that human compassion is never thwarted because there is no outlet for its expression, and we believe that compasson is one of the finest human traits and makes this world a better place for all living beings. 

On behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, thank you.

Our very best wishes to you for a peaceful and wonderful new year.


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