Just like humans, wild babies learn from parents.
From the time an injured or orphaned wild animal is rescued and brought to us by a caring person, our single thought is how to provide everything a little one needs so that it can someday return to its wild home. For orphaned wild animals, proper nutrition and room for exercise aren't enough--making sure the little ones do not become too familiar (habituated) to their caregivers is just as important in raising a baby that can survive once it leaves our care.
Working with the wildlife rehabilitators at the hospital are some VIB's (very important birds) that do something the humans cannot. Permanently disabled wild birds of many species provide a 'foster family' for orphaned young, helping to keep the babies wild while the humans provide the food, space and time for the babies while they grow. Our 'foster parents' work as hard as the rehabiltiators do in the summer months, and get to enjoy each other's company in the safe and peaceful home they share all year long.
Birds like Naomi, Alberta, Frankie and Freya and others help us make sure orphaned birds grow up knowing the natural language and social structure of geese, owls, ducks and other species, through hearing the vocalizations and observing the behavior of the adults that care for them at our hospital. When the babies have grown and left our care to make their way in the wild, we know they will be able to find shelter and food and recognize others of their own kind.
Your gift to Fellow Mortals through Global Giving this summer is giving ophaned wildlife the food and time necessary to grow up in a safe and peaceful environment with a nurturing foster parent of their own species. Your recurring gift is making that home possible for our very special ‘foster parents’ all year long.
Thank you for celebrating Wild Mothers' Days and the VIB's of Fellow Mortals!
“We would trade every one of our hands-on experiences with wild creatures to have each of them still free and healthy in the wild.”
As Fellow Mortals begins its 30th consecutive year of providing care to injured and orphaned wild ones, it seems appropriate to revisit our very first newsletter, published in the winter of 1992, shortly after we had released the Canada geese who survived one of the worst cases of lead poisoning ever documented. Our mission today is exactly what it was that winter: to provide comfort and care, with the hope of eventual release to the wild.
Of the 1800-2300 animals we care for annually, a handful are threatened or endangered; a few more are uncommon. The smallest percentage of the animals brought to us for care are generally considered ‘cool’ or ‘sexy.’ The vast majority of Fellow Mortals’ work consists of caring for the ‘common’ species which share our world.
Squirrels and rabbits, sparrows and ducks are always represented in our patient lists. Though they may occur commonly in the wild, it does not make the individuals any less important. We admire the tenacity of these wild creatures who are often taken for granted and sometimes reviled or considered ‘pests.’ We believe in the value of all life and in equality of care.
“It is not just the endangered to which we must assign a priority, or the magnificent, for their grandeur affords them a certain protection. The common sparrow, the familiar cottontail—those creatures who share our backyards and our daily lives deserve and need us just as much.
The imperfect, the injured, those born too young, born too late, are those you bring to us for care and, though the situation may be sad, each individual always bears a greater gift by inspiring our compassion. In healing, we are healed.” Yvonne Wallace Blane @ 1989
As we look forward to another year of serving wildlife and the compassionate people who care about wild creatures, Fellow Mortals' mission statement: "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," continues to influence the direction of our organization.
Thank you for helping us to honor our commitment and continue our work to honor the value of each life.
"After a busy Owl-oween, Alberta here to give you a hoot-out for helping the wild ones at Fellow Mortals!
Yvonne left her iphone in my house when she came to visit last night and (after a few crazy shots of my big beak), I figured out how to get a selfie and some pictures of my friends before the big night got started. It was crazy-sounding here, especially with the barred owls sounding like drunken ghosts and, when the wild owls showed up--well it was a really good Owl-oween!
Anyway, I finally figured out the smartphone stuff (luckily Yvonne has GlobalGiving as a favorite) and now I'm tapping my talons on the screen. (I've been living with humans for 34 years now, so I learned how to read English a looonnng time ago).
So here's the thing: I try not to be a piggy (since I'm an owl) but I still need to eat! and I know Yvonne sometimes worries when she doesn't know how she's going to buy enough food for us, or get the new blankets she needs for the squirrels (who are kept tantalizingly out of reach and sight of me and my friends) or the medicines she needs to help the injured animals who come to the hospital. I found out about you because sometimes when Yvonne brings my supper, she says, 'here's your food, thanks to some great people we've never met, but who care about you all the same.'
I don't know if I'll ever be able to get my talons back on this phone again, so when I saw your name in the list of our friends on Global Giving, I knew this might be my only chance to tell you that all of us owls who call Fellow Mortals home year-round know about how good you are to us. We live here because we were injured and can't fly or hunt anymore, but we have beautiful houses and we get company and some of us are teachers too.
I raised four orphaned great-horned owls this year and they were big and beautiful (and gifted, if I say so myself) when they flew off to find lives in the wild. Some of my friends are single or don't raise babies, but they do a LOT of visiting with humans where Yvonne says they teach how important owls are (okay,other wild animals too) to a healthy planet. Just between you and me, I think some of the teachers are kindof show-offs, but I guess that's okay as long as they come home at night and some humans learned something...
Hoo-hoo! Here she comes for the phone, so I have to go--but thanks for all my suppers, and for helping give us owls who live here a safe place to call home.
and Happy Owl-oween!
Alberta, Shakespeare, Sophie, Robbie, Amelia, Katy"
If only we didn't need to sleep! This is something we often exclaim during the busy spring and summer at Fellow Mortals. People have asked if we know how many steps we take in a day, since we move and walk nearly non-stop for up to 19 hours during our longest shifts.
Fellow Mortals is one of the largest and busiest wildlife hospitals in the nation,. Open 365 days a year, including holidays, the animals brought to us for care stay on site from initial admit to release. Some patients' stays are relatively short; others can last more than a year. Our hospital covers nearly 5,000 square feet of purpose-built clinic space, with another four acres of specialized habitats outdoors. Preparing food, feeding babies, cleaning kennels or scrubbing pools, taking x-rays, mopping, doing laundry, returning phone calls and meeting new people--it's all in every day's routine.
Summer 2014 has been exceptionally and unusually busy for us. As I write at the peak of our season, we have over 400 animals in care of dozens of species, including ground squirrels, purple martins, rabbits, ducklings, hummingbirds, goslings, owlets, gulls and deer. Every species of animal has come in greater numbers than in years past, meaning that it takes many more people-hours to care for them all.
In addition to the over 2,000 animals who will find their way into our care this year--the majority of which will be successfully returned to the wild, at least that many more have been kept with their wild parents as a result of education and advice given to caring people who called for help when they found what they believed was an orphaned animal.
Why are we so busy? Many species of wildlife are thriving, even as habitat is lost to development, but the real reason we are busier than ever is because the number the wildlife rehabilitators has been decreasing steadily since the 'boom' of rehabilitators entering the field in the 1980's, when Fellow Mortals first opened its doors. Looking just within a 30-mile radius of our hospital, where there were once 15 licensed wildlife rehabiliators, only five remain.
We are concerned about the loss of professionals in our field, especially because awareness and concern for wildlife and the environment mean that the services rehabilitators provide are needed more than ever. While the internships we offer during the summer are vital to providing care for the hundreds of orphans brought to us, they are also very important in terms of providing an opportunity for interested people to gain exposure and experience in the field. Since 1992, 66 interns have amassed over 80,000 hours of hands-on experience with injured and orphaned wildlife through Fellow Mortals' internship program. Some of these alumni have become rehabilitators, some veterinarians, others work in zoos or aquariums and some are doing research. Regardless of their profession, they have all become advocates for wildlife and the environment.
If you're reading this report, it's because you've made a gift to support our mission, a mission that includes helping to train the wildlife rehabilitators of tomorrow.
Thank you for supporting our work.
"I have a gift for you!" exclaimed Mark Naniot of Wild Instincts, a wildlife hospital in northern Wisconsin, when he called. He had just received a newborn orphaned beaver kit from a member of the public, umbilical cord still attached. Mark knows that Fellow Mortals works regularly with beaver and that we have a single beaver in care we hope to put with another before eventual release back to the wild.
We decided to have Mark stabilize the baby at his hospital before having the little one transferred down to us, as it would involve a more than 6-hour travel time for the delicate orphan. Any newborn animal is fragile and we have found newborn beaver to be especially susceptible to complications due to inability to thermoregulate and stomach upset from change in formula, so it made sense not to add any additional stress to what an orphaned wild baby was already experiencing from being separated from its parents. One week later, after the baby had stabilized, volunteers from Wild Instincts met our volunteer at a half-way point to hand off the special patient for transport the rest of the way to Fellow Mortals for care.
Fellow Mortals has cared for over 40,000 wild animals in the last nearly 30 years, but only 7 infant beaver, making this little one a very special patient. As soon as (she) arrived, we began the process of getting her adjusted to her new caregivers and surroundings and getting her back on schedule for feedings and bathing (beaver go to the bathroom in the water and must have access to water after every feeding).
The baby has been with us nearly two weeks now and is doing quite well, having gained close to 200 grams from her admit weight and looking and acting like a healthy baby. Little bites of willow and yam are enjoyed inbetween formula feedings and her baths are getting bigger and deeper. (We haven't yet determined the sex, which will be done by x-ray when the little one is about a month old. Sex organs are internal in beaver.)
In the wild, beaver stay with their parents until they are two years old, when they leave to find territories and build lodges of their own. Anyone who has ever raised a baby beaver understands exactly why this is so, as the kits cannot be left unsupervised without getting into trouble if they venture alone into deep water. The yearling beaver are essentially mom and dad's babysitters during their time at home. Beaver family are very close-knit and this intelligent species spends hours every day in social grooming, as the animals are very tactile.
In July 2012, Fellow Mortals released another hand-raised baby who had been paired with a yearling. Today, they are doing well at the pond where they were released. We are still waiting to see if they might have had babies of their own this year. The link mentioned provides more information about their story.
Making the kind of commitment it takes to raise beaver from infants to release is only possible because of the support of special individuals and foundations who provide the funds to build the specialized habitats needed by these aquatic mammals, and the donations that help purchase the food consumed by these unique animals. One beaver will eat a pound of spinach, two large yams, an ear of corn and two apples every day while in care. The cost of food alone for one beaver in rehabilitation is nearly $5,000.
While we have large habitats with pools deep enough for diving, our dream is to build an even larger aquatic mammal habitat for this special species. We'll keep you updated as this project progresses.
Time to sign off for now, the baby beaver's next feeding is just two minutes away!
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