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
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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Release
Release

While our hospital will see 2,000 wild birds and mammals this year, it is the 'big' birds, especially Bald eagles, that capture people's attention.  When the eagle is one that is from the community where we are located, it really creates interest in the bird's admitting injury and rehabilitation.

"Fontana," was reported to us after he was found sitting in a yard in the village of Fontana, which is on Geneva lake.  

Just because a bird is sitting in a yard doesn't necessary mean it's sick or injured, so we asked for photos first and got information about how the bird was behaving.  The eagle was not moving, looked dull, and was having trouble breathing, so Jess and I headed out and were at the location in under 10 minutes.

The bird was easily captured and Jess cradled him in a blanket before putting him into the kennel cab for the trip back to hospital.

It was obvious he had suffered impact of some kind--most likely a car, as he was having difficulty breathing and held his wings out from his body as if he were terribly bruised.  He also had blood in his mouth.

Back at the hospital, we quickly took x-rays and then drew blood for laboratory tests.  We could tell he had blood in his lungs and was bruised, but we didn't know if there was a reason that he had been hit by a vehicle.

X-rays showed no lead, which was a relief, and no fractures, but only the blood tests would tell us the whole story.  When an eagle has lead poisoning, it is not because the bird was shot, but because the bird has ingested lead accidentally while feeding on a fish with a lead sinker in the gut, or on the remains of a deer that was killed with lead shot.

At first, Fontana could hardly stand, and we housed him in our raptor preflight, an indoor room with a carpeted floor, low soft perch, and with supplemental heat and low light.  He was in good weight when he arrived, about 8 pounds, which is why we identified him as a male.  Females are much larger than males.  The largest female eagle we have ever had in care was 14 pounds.

We were fortunate in that the eagle was in good condition before his injury.  A bird that is underweight, has a heavy parasite load, or other condition is fighting trauma at a real disadvantage.

He drank water, so we brought him small live minnows and he ate them slowly, and carefully, as he was having trouble breathing.  We thought perhaps fresh cubed salmon or meat would be easier for him, and he did eagerly take some of what we offered him by hand, but would not eat the meat or fish that we left in with him.

It was only a few days before we could see Fontana was healing from the trauma, but he still wasn't 'right;' he didn't react to stimuli like a healthy bird would, and he was more comfortable lying on his belly than perching upright.

When the blood tests came back, they showed that he was suffering from a very high level of lead poisoning:  22 parts per million (ppm) where an 'acceptable' level for an eagle is .3 or less.  This made sense, as the eagle had acute lead poisoning (meaning he hadn't been suffering with lead poisoning for very long.  If he had, he would have been underweight, even emaciated.)

We started chelation treatment immediately once the results came back.  Chelation is the use of a drug that is injected into the body, then taken up into the blood.  As the drug circulates in the blood, it binds to heavy metals like lead, and the bird excretes the toxin when it defecates.  Lead is hard on kidneys, and so is treatment, so we had to balance our protocol to keep this in mind.

Once the chelation therapy started, Fontana started eating hungrily--first small minnows, then medium chubs, finally eating whole trout at a time!

The eagle had several series of shots of chelating agent; each time Jess would gently pick him up using a blanket--and he accepted this indignity without protest as he was so sick.  Days of shots were followed by days of rest, and after the last series of shots, he let us know we were not going to pick him up so easily again.

It was time to move outside!

Before we moved Fontana to our large eagle flight, which is 108 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high--we took blood again so that we would know if we needed to bring him back inside for treatment.

It was several days before Fontana could move about normally in the large space, but in less than a week he was flying!  Clumsily, with lots of flapping--yes, but he was starting to regain the muscle and strength he lost when he was in critical care.

6 weeks and 2 days after he came to us, we took him home to Fontana, where he wasted no time leaving the kennel cab and flying to a high perch overlooking the lake.

'Big' birds like Fontana often get more attention than a songbird or duck or squirrel, but that's ok, as it gives us the chance to advocate for all the wild ones who need our care.

Thank you for being a part of the work that helps eagles and sparrows, beaver and mice, and all inbetween.

Admit
Admit
Exam
Exam
Hurting from the trauma
Hurting from the trauma
In preflight
In preflight
Ready for release
Ready for release
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Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings

Summer 2020 continues to surprise, and surprisingly delight in unexpected ways.

While we learn new ways to interact with the people who need our help, and how to help from a distance, we have also become more proficient at distance education and providing information in innovative ways.

Challenge really can result in opportunity once one accepts that there is only one direction--forward.

We weren't sure what to expect with the many stay-at-home orders and changes in work and school.  In the very beginning, the wild ones were less impacted by human activity and they thrived in the absence of fewer vehicles on the roads, and activity at work sites.

Once people returned to a semblance of normal, so did our work at the hospital increase.  More people were out working in the yard at home instead of on vacation, and were more likely to encounter wildlife and see behaviors they didn't understand, but which were perfectly normal--like a baby fawn lying quietly next to their porch, or a nest of baby bunnies tucked into a corner of their garden.

While we provide direct services for injured and orphaned wildlife, we return up to 100 calls a day to help an animal finder assess a situation and understand wild behavior.  Most of the education and information we provide allows young wild creatures to stay with their parents.

In the past few years, we have been concerned about a trend that sees fewer of some important bird species, like the American kestrel, or Chimney swift.  Birds that eat insects or rodents are very important to balance in the environment.  This year has been a good one for raptors and songbirds; and while that means our bird nursery and sensitive species, and indoor flights are full to bursting because the more birds out in the environment the more likely they are to be found when they need help--we couldn't be happier for the extra work.

500 animals are currently in care at the hospital.  We release nearly every day, and admit new animals just as quickly.  This evening two great horned owl returned home after recovering from fractured wings.  Yesterday the first 10 swallows were released after growing up in our care.

The birds admitted into care change as the weeks pass, and we have just admitted our first Cedar Waxwings, one of the last bird species to nest in our region.  Summer is really flying by.

THANK YOU to all who are part of Team Hope--your monthly gifts provide for the many wild ones brought to us by people who can't donate.

And thank you to all who donate when you can--your gifts are often the answer to a specific need.

Best wishes to all of you as we continue the adventure.

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Organization Information

Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Location: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FellowMortals1
Project Leader:
Yvonne Wallace Blane
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin United States
$90,065 raised of $100,000 goal
 
1,993 donations
$9,935 to go
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