Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything

by Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital
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Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Fellow Mortals--Compassion Changes Everything
Days old grey squirrel
Days old grey squirrel

Most people we know enjoy watching the antics of the squirrels that visit or live in their back yards.

Squirrels are intelligent and adaptable, and they make nests in tree cavities and in balls of leaves tucked carefully into the branches of trees.  When natural nesting areas aren't available, they can also be found in attics, or vents, or even inside the engine compartment of a vehicle!

They are busy all year round, but do disappear when the weather is cold or wet--or when the females are in the nest with their young.

Squirrel species (grey, fox, flying, and red) are the second most commonly admitted mammal to many rehabilitators in the United States.  While people don't usually see babies in their back yard (they don't venture out of the nest until their eyes have been open a couple of weeks), they ARE there.

For those of you who enjoy your squirrel neighbors, we thought you might like to know what to do if you find a squirrel baby out of the nest and in need of help.

JUST THE FACTS

Squirrels have two litters of young every year.  The first is born in late winter and the second in fall.

Squirrel mothers are very devoted to their young and nurse them frequently in the nest.

Newborns are pink, hairless, deaf, and blind.  They weigh about 1/3 of an ounce and are 1 inch long.

Squirrels open their eyes at 4 weeks, but they don't venture out of the nest until they're about 8 weeks old.

The spring babies stay with their mother until the second litter is born, and then they disperse to find their own nest.

Fall babies stay with their mother through the winter.

Squirrels are not a rabies-vector species.

Squirrels are diurnal; they are only active during the day-time.

SQUIRREL OUT OF THE NEST

If you find an eyes-closed baby or young squirrel on the ground, the first thing you need to do is cover it with a laundry basket so that it is not hurt or taken by a predator, like a cat or hawk.  Give it something soft and warm to cuddle into before covering it with the basket.

Weight the basket down with something heavy on top so that it can't be moved by a big animal, like a dog.

TIP:  Don't use towels with baby animals.  They do not provide warmth and the strings can cause injury. 

PROVIDE SUPPLEMENTAL HEAT:  'Pinkie' squirrels have little fur and chill easily, older babies may have their eyes open, but also need supplemental heat if they are on the ground.

Baby animals cannot thermoregulate (stay warm) until they are older.

SEE the picture below for how to provide warmth to a baby.

Contact your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice and direction.

SEE the link below to find your local wildlife rehabiltiator.

TIP:  NEVER give water, formula or other fluids to a baby squirrel or other wild baby A chilled or starving animal needs professional attention before it can be fed anything, or it could die.

WHY DO SQUIRRELS GET ORPHANED?

Squirrels get separated from mom when their nests are destroyed during tree cutting, or if mom is killed by a predator (like a hawk), or has been injured or killed in the road.

Mother squirrels do not abandon their babies.  

A baby squirrel that walks up to you or your pet needs help.  

PLEASE:  Do not just walk away.  Do not take babies to another location.  They will not survive.

CAN BABIES EVER BE REUNITED WITH MOTHER AFTER THEY FALL FROM THE NEST?

YES!  But only with the advice of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who will walk you through the situation and be with you every step of the way.  

If reuniting is not successful before dark, the babies MUST be brought to the wildlife rehabilitator.

Mother squirrels will not come to their babies after dark.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about your busy backyard friends.

THANK YOU for your gifts that will make care possible for the squirrel babies that will come to us for care this spring.

2.5 week old grey squirrel
2.5 week old grey squirrel
4 week old grey squirrel
4 week old grey squirrel
Nest box
Nest box
Providing warmth to wild babies
Providing warmth to wild babies

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Arrival
Arrival

On November 4, we received a call from a police department in western Wisconsin about a young beaver that had been wandering in the neighborhood and was now walking in the road.  They wanted to know what to do.

Beaver live in family units by water.  Their lodges may be built of sticks or in a muddy bank, but they are never built far from water  Very family-oriented animals, beaver mate for life and the young of the pair stay with the family until they are at least two years old. The babies, called kits, are vulnerable to chilling and drowning for the first few weeks of their life and are never unattended by a parent or older sibling, who serve as 'babysitters' for the younger beaver in a family group.

When babies come to us, we know we are making a minimum of a two-year commitment before they can be reintroduced to the wild.  We are currently introducing a female to a year-old male who both came to us as orphans, after their families were trapped and killed.

We could tell from the pictures the police sent to us that the little beaver was very young--far too young to be on its own.

Something was very wrong.

Beaver are not aggressive animals.  They have to cooperate in order to cut and place the trees that build their lodge, and to pack the mud that keeps it in place, and to store the food they will share all the winter.  Beaver do not hibernate and so over the long, dark, cold, winter months under the ice, they will groom each other and sleep together and be very companionable in all ways. 

We instructed the police how to contain the beaver so that he would not suffer more injury, and one of our most trusted volunteers made the long drive to pick the baby up from the police and bring him back to Fellow Mortals.

When I first looked into the carrier, the little beaver was cowering in a corner, his eyes wide with fright and trepidation.  The only reason possible for this little animal to be wandering in town, far away from water, is that his family had been taken from him by trapping.

Beaver are not sexually mature until 3 years of age.  The most dangerous time of their life is when they must leave the home lodge to find a territory of their own, and they will be at least 2 years old before that happens.

My heart just went out to the lonely little beaver who had lost everything so early in his life.

After a three hour ride with our volunteer, the baby arrived and, as gently and quickly as possible, we did an examination and found a laceration at the base of his tail and an injury on the back.  He was also limping due to an injury of one foot, and was thin and dehydrated.  Weighing only 6 pounds, we confirmed what we had suspected--this was this year's baby.  We were able to x-ray to make sure there were no broken bones, and then we got him settled in a pool habitat with some fresh willow and stuffed animals for company.  

He immediately went to the pool and started drinking.  He was so thirsty that he continued to drink for several minutes.

It's been a month since the baby beaver came to us after losing his parents, and all of his siblings.  We bring him blankets scented by the older beaver in our care in an attempt to let him know that he is not alone.  He is still eating only the bark and cambium of willow branches we provide daily.  Tempting him with apples, and yams, berries, and greens, and seasonal produce--every day we hope to wake him and find that he has sampled some of the other foods that he needs to grow, and grow strong.  That will be a very happy day.

Fellow Mortals is the only wildlife hospital in many states to be capable of providing for beaver from newborn to release.  We now have three beaver in care, along with 200 other wild ones who are healing with us this winter--each with his or her own special story and needs.  Thankfully, each one has eventually understand that they are safe and  we are trying to help.  From then on, they can heal.  It is only because of your support that this is so.

Thank you for the gifts that you give that make it possible for us to be here to help this little lost beaver, and all the other wild ones found injured and alone who are given the chance to rest and heal.

Exploring
Exploring

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Nestling robin after surgery
Nestling robin after surgery

When a baby bird comes into care, it's never simple.  If the songbird is a healthy nestling and has been blown from the nest by wind, we provide information and instruction to the finder to warm the bird and then replace it in the nest and watch for the parent to return to feed.  If the bird is fledgling, most often the caller describes a healthy young bird that simply doesn't have the strength or feather development to do more than hop, and we explain that it will be a few days while it grows and gains the strength to start taking short flights.

If we determine that a baby bird needs help, it's because it is injured in some way, or its condition tells us that something has happened to the parents, leaving it an orphan.

Most of the baby birds that come to us are orphaned, but not badly injured.  Of the more than 100 American robins we admitted this year, about 10 percent had fractures, including a young nestling that was injured during a storm and ended up with a fractured leg (the femur).

We are fortunate to work with a skilled orthopedic veterinary surgeon who routinely puts metal pins into the bones of hawks and owls, fawns and geese, even baby bunnies--but had never pinned the tiny bones of a songbird weighing only an ounce, until one day when a baby came in while he was doing another surgery.

Dr. Scot is an artist.  He makes anesthesia and cutting, placing pins and suturing look like everyday tasks, and to him they are!

The little robin went through the surgery beautifully, but when the anesthesia was turned off--he didn't breathe on his own--and everyone watching held their breath--except for Dr. Scot, who literally gave his breath of life to help the robin breathe on his own again.

Four weeks later, the pin has been out a week and the robin is using the leg--perching and flying and picking through insects and fruit along with the rest of the robins who grew up with him.

It isn't often such a small bird, considered a common species in North America, receives the kind of care provided to the most expensive domestic animal -- but it does happen, and it's just another example of the wonderful compassion shown to the wild ones by the people who support Fellow Mortals' work.

While Dr. Scot and others volunteer their time -- it's your donations that provide the specialized diets and care that completes the rehabiltiation story, and results in release for birds like this robin, and so many, many more wild ones.

Dr. Scot in surgery at Fellow Mortals
Dr. Scot in surgery at Fellow Mortals
Robin two weeks later, pin still in the leg
Robin two weeks later, pin still in the leg
All healed and ready for release!
All healed and ready for release!
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Newly-hatched screech owls
Newly-hatched screech owls

That old dead tree in your yard, or along the road may not have any leaves this year--but there is life inside!

It could be spiders or other insects, or it could be wild baby birds and mammals.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) was passed over 100 years ago to protect wildlife from being taken, injured, or killed, after some species were taken to the brink of extinction by wanton killing.

Wildlife doesn't belong to anyone--all of us are stewards of wild ones and the earth.

Fellow Mortals has admitted more orphaned and injured wild birds and mammals as a result of tree cutting this spring than ever in the past.  Tree cutting is being done everywhere--and we know thousands of wild ones are being killed and orphaned as a result.

Why are trees being cut?  To make room for roads, gas pipelines, double-wide mobile homes, because they restrict view, and sometimes because the trees or dead limbs pose a hazard if left standing.

Most often--there is no thought about what might be living inside until it's too late.

We are thankful for the caring people who don't just walk away when they find life inside a fallen branch or tree trunk--like the people who have recently rescued and brought screech owl and sparrow nestlings and eggs, and infant squirrels to us for care--and we are thankful to all of YOU who make it possible for us to feed these hungry babies.

If you have a dead branch or tree on your property, ask yourself if it's a danger.  If not--please consider letting it fall on its own time and in the meantime let it provide a home for the wild ones.

That old dead tree has lots of life in it yet!

Nestling screech owls with newhatch babies
Nestling screech owls with newhatch babies
Infant Grey squirrels
Infant Grey squirrels
Nestling great horned owl
Nestling great horned owl
Newly-hatched sparrows and egg
Newly-hatched sparrows and egg

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Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

“Nature’s Mighty Law”

"Look abroad through Nature's range; Nature's mighty law is Change."  Robert Burns

In the morning mist, a young grey squirrel is barely visible where she sits with a nut in the crook of a tree, her hard-won prize held carefully in furry fingers.  Across the field, a formation of geese sleeps, heads and elegant necks tucked for warmth among the downy feathers on their backs.  Four bright and raucous crows announce a passing red-tailed hawk, and the squirrel drops her nut to scurry into a cavity of the tree.  The geese dream on.

Each one of these wild ones has survived amidst the changes felt across months and seasons.  Eating, sleeping, playing, surviving—they move on.

A ways distant from the oak where the squirrel now hides, and down the road, a still, frost-covered form is all that remains of an opossum who passed suddenly in the night.  I move her gently from her place of death as a sign of respect for her life—knowing that the crows will eventually find her and complete her physical passing.  I move on.

In the midst of loss and suffering we cannot alleviate, when we sometimes feel like everything is falling apart—nothing is more important than finding a way to move forward, to move on.  With every act of kindness and compassion, we move past grief and fear toward hope.

These past months have been a test—and you have passed with flying colors!  Despite uncertainties and challenges that threatened to break you, you responded to the crying of the orphaned fawn and the plight of the nestling bird helpless on the ground; you found a way to someone who could care for the eyes-closed newborn bunny and who could give a family to the duckling wandering down a dangerous street; you travelled hours for the sake of a ‘pigeon’ nobody else cared about, and you never, ever took your eyes off the sparrow. 

Each of us, no matter where life may find us, still has something to give that will be life-affirming, even life-changing for another—no matter how insignificant that gift may feel. 

Thank you for the gift of your time or funds, great or small.  You are the reason that we were able to keep our staff, bring interns in for the busy summer months, and cover the cost of running a wildlife hospital.  You are the reason our doors never closed to the wild ones and the people who need us.

1840 wild ones, 1014 birds, 826 mammals, 365 days, 123 communities, 100 species, 79 wood duck ducklings, 35 years, 31 white-tailed deer fawn, 25 chimney swifts, 25% increase in wildlife calls, 16-hour days, 4 wildlife rehabilitators, 3 beaver, 2 eagles, 1 pileated woodpecker—and you.

 In the aftermath of the storm, from within the tangle of broken trunks comes a heavy ‘Rap-Rap-Rap’ echoing through the damaged woods.  I step through fallen boughs in search of the source and finally look up, and up, and up to see the brilliant red crown of a pileated woodpecker silhouetted in the broken canopy, wielding his strong bill like a sculptor to create a new purpose for the jagged remains of the fallen tree.  Moving on.

Pileated woodpecker before release
Pileated woodpecker before release
Pileated release
Pileated release
Pileated woodpecker at admit
Pileated woodpecker at admit
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Organization Information

Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Location: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @FellowMortals1
Project Leader:
Yvonne Wallace Blane
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin United States
$99,183 raised of $150,000 goal
 
2,103 donations
$50,817 to go
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