All you have to do is look at the faces of the interns right before releasing the hawks to freedom to see how 'success' is most easily measured in wildlife rehabilitation. We are excited when the day comes that an animal who came to us starving or injured can go home again, and know that it is 'good bye,' but once in awhile, we get to say 'hello' again...
Buddy came into our lives over three years ago, after she was found injured and starving with an injury to her mouth and jaw. At the hospital on her arrival on 3/22/09, x-rays revealed that a b.b. had lodged in the little squirrel's jaw and caused her teeth to become misaligned and maloccluded, making it impossible for her to eat. Another had just missed her spine.
Buddy spent nearly two years in rehabilitation. The pellet’s proximity to one eye made it impossible to remove, but regular teeth clipping gradually brought Buddy's teeth into alignment and she grew plump and beautiful once she was able to feed herself. In the fall of 2011, we opened the door to her cage and Buddy left captivity to find her place in the wild. Since Fellow Mortals has fox squirrels on site and we hoped to monitor her condition, we gave her a nest box near to the hospital in a lone oak.
We didn’t see Buddy for several weeks after release and of course we worried—then one day in November of 2011 we were excited to see Buddy in the courtyard helping herself to the treats we put out daily for the birds, squirrels and rabbits.
Buddy lived in the 'wilds' of Fellow Mortals for over two years, until the injury that initially brought her to us brought her back into care. We will always be grateful that she had the opportunity to live a life of her own choosing, and feel so privileged that—when she was given the chance to leave, she chose to spend the rest of her life with us. She was never tame, never allowed us to approach too closely, yet we shared our lives.
The rare experience of being able to follow our patients after release occurs every so often, and gives us hope that many of the animals we never see again are also living long, happy lives in the wild.
Thank you for your gifts which provide the place that makes these stories possible.
It's July 14, and we're at the peak of our busy season! Every room and cage is filled, and the outside habitats have a waiting list for the many patients growing up or recovering inside the hospital.
Nearly 500 animals are currently in care, including dozens of orphaned cottontails, songbirds, ground and tree squirrels, ducks and geese, hawks and owls, woodchucks and more...
Every day that Fellow Mortals is able to provide care for injured and orphaned wildlife--and accept new patients from the public--is a cause for celebration, Thanks to You!
Even as we continue hand-feeding the tinest newborn mammals, or newly-hatched birds, we are also busy releasing those who have 'graduated' from critical and nursery care to being able to survive in the wild. Just today, we released flying, grey and 13-lined squirrels and robins, grackles, house sparrows and a woodpecker.
One very special release just a few days ago was that of two red-tailed hawks. Both had come to us with fractured wings, but one in particular was in very critical condition, its 'fingers' (the phalanges of the wing) smashed past surgical repair. It was also an older injury; infection had set in and we wondered if the bird would lose the tip of its wing. Despite the odds, we decided to do what we could to battle the infection and keep the bird quiet to see if healing was possible. Not only did the bird not lose the wing, but he flew beautifully on release!
Every one of the animals you help has a special story. Each one wants to live and, more than that, be free. Thank you for all the Happy Endings you make possible.
Every individual animal that comes to Fellow Mortals has a 'cycle of healing.' This is one month in the life of a Red-breasted Merganser.
The merganser was found on March 5 in the road. He was nearly 25 percent underweight, and had just been hit by a car. X-rays taken back at the hospital show a skull fracture and fractured leg. He was in very critical condition.
The next few days, the merganser was tube-fed (a tube is put down the animal's throat and nourishment provided to the stomach when an animal cannot feed itself). A few days later, the merganser ate a live minnow for the first time! The skull fracture had not affected his ability to see and procure food.
While the merganser's leg was healing, he could not be in the water, and so we had to give daily small baths to keep his feathers clean, resplinting the leg after each bath. After 14 days, the fracture had stabilized (callused) and he was able to stand for the first time. The splint was removed!
Recovery came quickly after the splint came off and the merganser had access to water, and fish and bathing 24 hours a day.
6 weeks later, the merganser is healed and acclimated to the outdoor temperature, and will soon be released.
Every animal has its own 'cycle of care' from critical to release. This is one story.
Thank you--for making happy endings possible...
Fellow Mortals provided care for 1692 animals at the hospital in 2013, more than in 2011. 71 percent were successfully rehabilitated and released.
Our busiest months were May, June and July, when we admitted 1,042 of our patients.
Animals came from 90 different cities and 14 different counties.
Every success is cause for celebration, but we are especially gratified at the successful rehabilitation, release and subsequent successful integration into the wild of two beaver admitted in 2009--one an orphaned female and one an injured male yearling, who were introduced after the male had healed from his injuries and then released together last summer. The pair recently made an appearance near their lodge during a warm spell, after making it through their first winter in the wild.
This story--and many more, have been made possible thanks to your gifts. Often, when funds are low, it is the donations received from Global Giving that provide a 'safety net' and provide the funds for food and supplies needed by our wild patients.
Thank you for your support. We look forward to what we can accomplish together in 2013!
The first babies to be admitted every year are also the last to be released.
Our foster great-horned owl, "Alberta," raised seven injured and orphaned owlets in 2012. Great-horneds are already starting to court in the wild this time of year in the midwest, and if you're lucky enough to have owls in your neighborhood, you will hear their resonant 'hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo-, hoo-hoo!'
The eggs are incubated by the female owl for 28-30 days before the owlets hatch. During their incubation and while the downy babies need the parent's warmth, the male owl will hunt for the entire family.
If a baby falls from the nest and is injured (broken wings and broken legs are common), or something happens and the parents cannot provide for the young, orphans may be found by caring people and brought to Fellow Mortals for care.
Alberta came to Fellow Mortals in 1994, when she was already 14 years old. She had been raised illegally and was imprinted on humans, so could not return to the wild. Still--she has been able to have numerous families in captivity and is an important part of our foster-parent program, making sure that owl babies that come to Fellow Mortals learn how to be owls from another owl and grow up wild!
The pictures show two of the 7 babies Alberta was mother to in 2012. All healed from their fractures, trauma and emaciation and were released as big beautiful wild birds in late fall.
Thank you for remembering the wild ones in this season of hope. Our best wishes to you for a safe and peaceful holiday with family and friends,
Yvonne--for the wild ones
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.