I have an itch to work with wildlife. A bad itch. An itch that tugs at the back of my brain all day, every day, day in and day out. No matter what I’m doing, I’d rather be sharing space with an animal. I’m not picky: I’d even take insects and spiders over a desk job if I was in a real bind.
In Oregon, I’d been accepted into a spectacular captive animal management program, but couldn’t procure the funds to attend. Heartbroken, I returned to the East Coast, trying my best to believe that something equally as incredible was in the making. (I’m the kind of person that believes if a thing isn’t in your best interest, you don’t get it, no matter how badly you thought you wanted it; but walking away from zoo school was a doozy.)
Fast forward six months, and a combination of coincidence and free time led me to email a local wildlife rehabilitator to see if she needed volunteers. Wildlife rehab is a world of unpaid, tireless work for creatures that will bite you, shit on you, and most likely hate you with every fiber of their being. But more importantly, it’s a world of creatures whose lives are only a passing whisper to most humans, a glimpse of what is otherwise just mystery. It’s a world of injuries and orphaning, of human-caused suffering, but of healing, resilience, and the return of a living being to its home. It’s a world of hope; fur and scales and teeth and hope. Read the rest of this entry
Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.
I never forget to feed the birds. Every time I go outside, my muscle memory moves my eyeballs to the feeders to see if they need to be refilled.
But what I do forget is that, judging by how vocal they’re becoming, they’re getting into the mood for finding a mate and building a nest. The daylight clings a little longer, and all the trees – I just know it – are starting to stir. So this year I wanted to add another element to the backyard: a little depot for nesting supplies. Now most birds are going to use natural goodies, like twigs, moss, and (if you’re a hummingbird) even spider web silk, but birds are opportunists and if they decide yarn or dog hair would benefit the nest, they’ll certainly use it.
Cross the jump to see what I did this year!
Last week I posted a link to a live camera that has been filming the same hummingbird nest for several years. Two chicks were hatched in December, but just a couple days ago, something heartbreaking happened: mom didn’t return to the nest. After 20 hours of not seeing Phoebe, the mother hummingbird, a wildlife rehabilitator was called in to rescue the chicks.
Monique, the rehabber, delicately removed the entire nest and took it back to her home, where she’s raised orphaned hummie chicks in the past. Like most rehabbers, Monique doesn’t get paid to do this and according to the admins of the live cam page, the complex mix used to feed baby hummingbirds isn’t cheap. It’s not sugar water; it’s a mix of proteins and nutrients closer to what momma bird would regurgitate for babies. If you’re compelled to help Monique, you can donate to her through her website at http://mfrartwork.com/donate/ and browse her lovely artwork.
You can watch Monique trying to give the chicks a meal in the video below. It’s rather magical. Thanks for reading!
Happy new year everyone!
Hope yours was wonderful – and here’s something to make it even better. The hummingbird that returns each year to its California rosebush to nest is back, and the camera is a-rollin’! She’s already hatched two eggs, and the babies are just days old. Go to PhoebeAllens.com, where you can also follow Phoebe on FB and Twitter. Look at these little squeeebies!
(Hang in there through the ads – watching momma and getting a chance to see her babies is totally worth it.)
I’ve been working at a good friend’s farm a couple days a week, helping her to prep for winter. It’s been awesome. But today something traumatic [read: not actually traumatic to most people] happened, and I thought I would share it with you.
She has this great cat. To preserve his dignity and anonymity, we’ll call him Agent Orange. Agent Orange is usually out keeping the farm free of thieving mice, but today when I arrived, he was inside. He made sure I was aware that he wanted to go outside with much mewing and making pretty cat faces at me. I explained that, as a member of the primate family, there is a social protocol I must follow: whatever the alpha team decides, goes. If Agent Orange was inside, he was to remain inside.
He wasn’t impressed with my explanation. He sat solemnly by the door, watching the gray rain clouds roll by. After giving him a little sympathy affection, I noticed a dark, fat, oblong berry on the floor. My boss is always growing exciting things and so I bent down to pick it up, wondering which plant it had escaped from.
Then I noticed the berry had hairs. Six of them. Just on one end.
And then the hairs each began to move independently.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full tick, and out of sheer horror, I dropped it back onto the floor and let out a yelp. At this point, I should tell you that out of everything in the natural world, the only critters that give me the heebie jeebies are ticks. Like big heebies. Huge ones. Uncontrollable heebies. I’m actually itching right now, just remembering the little monster.
It must have fallen off of Agent Orange, as Agent Calico – the other house kitty – doesn’t travel out-of-doors. After several minutes of uncontrollable spasms and “BLEH!” sounds, I finally calmed down (okay, so I’m still making “bleh” sounds right now) and got rid of the little bugger. I thought to take a picture of it for the blog as proof, but, well.. ew.
I then quietly informed Agent Orange that we were no longer on speaking terms, and got back to work.
Can you believe it? A silly little tick can give a naturalist the shakes! What gives you the hibbity jibbities? Is it ticks? Snakes? Leave it in the comments and thanks for reading! :)
May you eat lots of candy and giggle the night away at wonderful costumes.
(Comics from the outstanding Liz Climo.)
©Liz Climo lizclimo.tumblr.com
I don’t know how exactly one becomes inspired to recreate animals from 17th and 18th century paintings – using broken pieces of glass – but Marta Klonowska did just that. The detail, shape, and volume with which her animals stand are spectacular, and really make me wish I could see them in person rather than on a screen.