Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Patients, Lead Poisoning, and Great-horned Owl Releases

I have a mini update for you all. We continue to see many patients coming through our door, but here is just a peek at what we have now.

I'm going to spend a moment talking about the first patient I'm introducing to you because this is a species that isn't common to our clinic or our blog. Yellow-rumped Warblers are beautiful and fascinating little birds that spend their summers in the far north and west. This time of year, they begin migrating to their warmer wintering grounds in the south, and luckily for us, they pass through our area so we can enjoy their beauty for a short while. The most fascinating fact about these little birds pertains to their digestive system of all things. These birds can forage on bayberries and their relatives which have a thick coating of wax for protection that other birds cannot digest. Because of this unusual trait, Yellow-rumped Warblers can subsist on these berries and live farther north than some of their warbler cousins.

Photo above: This beautiful Yellow-rumped Warbler accidentally hit a window near Woodruff, WI. Luckily for this little one, only a few days of recuperation were needed for a full recovery, and he has been released to continue on his migration southward.

Photo above: This lovely little male Barred Owl was likely hit by a car and has a wing fracture. He is in very good weight, and is expected to make a full recovery!

Photo above: This gorgeous female Bald Eagle was seen feeding on a gut pile when she then tipped over onto her back. She was rescued, and when she arrived at our clinic, a blood test was done to determine if she was suffering from lead poisoning. The results were off the charts. The good news for this beauty is that she is with us for treatment, and with a lot of perseverance on her part, she can pull through. Please excuse the "crumbs" on her beak, she just finished enjoying a piece of salmon when I photographed her.

During and after hunting season, many Bald Eagles are brought to our clinic suffering from lead poisoning. Because they are scavengers, Bald Eagles are at a huge risk of becoming poisoned by lead this time of year. When a deer is shot, bullet fragments containing lead are left in the woods in gut piles. Unknowingly, scavengers, including Bald Eagles, feed on these gut piles and become very ill. With luck, these poisoned animals are found and brought to us for help, but sadly, those that do not get help will ultimately die. Making the switch to non-lead ammunition can be the difference between life and death for wildlife. I am a hunter myself, and the few extra dollars I spend on a box of lead-free ammunition, is worth it. Please, if you are a hunter, make the switch.

Things are slowing down a bit this fall, and we have been experiencing the joy of release with many of our patients. Two Great-horned Owls that were originally admitted due to starvation and being hit by a car were able to make a full recovery and are now free once again!

The gun deer hunting season is fast approaching, and that means it is time once again for Have-A-Heart for REGI! Those of you who are hunters, or know anyone who hunts, please save the deer hearts for us! Heart provides an excellent source of nutrition for the raptors in our care, and you can do your part to help us out. Information about drop-off sites can be found on our website under the "events" tab or by following this link!

Thanks everyone!

Karissa Mohr
Wildlife Educator

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