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Wildlife Hospital Patient Stories

Common Murre being examined at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance  

September 23, 2015

Why Are Hundreds of Common Murres Dead and Dying on Bay Area Beaches?

If you've walked Stinson, Ocean or any other Pacific-side beach in the Bay Area recently, you've probably seen them— small black and white seabirds dead or dying at the water line.

These are Common Murres, pelagic (ocean-going) birds that live at sea and nest on rocky islands. They hardly ever come near shore.

But WildCare's Wildlife Hospital has admitted 33 murres in the past two weeks alone. All of them arrive sandy (often in the arms of their concerned rescuers), dehydrated, and, most significantly, emaciated.

Common Murres off the coast of San Francisco are starving to death.

But why? Learn more and meet one of these beautiful birds in our VIDEO...

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Baby squirrel being fed. Photo by Alison Hermance

Orphaned squirrel with a broken arm. Photo by Alison Hermanc

Pile of baby squirrels all needing care. Photo by Alison Her

September 10, 2015

You Can Help WildCare's Babies This Fall

It has been a very busy baby season at WildCare, and it’s not over yet!

The months from April through August are when most wildlife raise their babies, but we’ll have orphaned wild animals needing care in our Wildlife Hospital through September and October, and even into November!

WildCare has admitted 138 orphaned baby squirrels this spring and summer, and our Wildlife Hospital continues to be flooded with more newly-orphaned 3 – 5 week-old baby squirrels even as you read this.

Squirrel babies became orphaned when their mothers get hit by cars, when tree trimming destroys their nests, when they get caught by cats or when any number of other traumatic events happen. Many of the babies arrive at WildCare with injuries.

Fortunately WildCare is here to care for babies like the young Eastern Gray Squirrel in the photo above who arrived at WildCare skinny, covered in fleas and with a broken wrist.

WildCare's Medical Staff immobilized the wrist and elbow in a cast, treated the little patient for dehydration and hypothermia and, when he had recovered enough, treated him for fleas and placed him with other orphaned squirrels of his own age. A few weeks later, the cast was removed, and the mostly-healed break is now in a light splint.

Although he is still receiving squirrel formula from a nipple every four hours, this young squirrel has recently discovered avocado— his new favorite food!

Unfortunately, his penchant for avocado means his splint (and everything else in the near vicinity) has been stained green. This means that, for this little squirrel, it's time for a bandage change. You can watch in our video!

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Baby blackbird in the Birdroom. Photo by Alison Hermance

Orphaned towhees at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Baby finches at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

August 26, 2015

1,181 Songbirds Needed WildCare's Help This Summer

It has been a very busy baby season at WildCare.

Since April 1, 2015, we have treated 1,181 songbirds in our Birdroom!

Over 800 of these patients arrived at WildCare as tiny nestlings needing feeding every 45 minutes (or more!) from dawn to dusk.

This spring and summer we raised 76 towhees. Most of these little birds with their trademark high-pitched chirp needed at least 15 feedings per day for several days to several weeks, depending on their age when admitted. A week of feeding these 76 towhees 15 times a day cost $2,660.

138 finches, from Goldfinches to House Finches, have passed through our doors, and these voracious little eaters enjoyed every mouthful of food they were given. Feeding this many finches for just one week cost over $4,800!

Many of these young birds are still in our aviaries and will be released in the next weeks as soon as they build their flight skills.

The extraordinary dedication of our Birdroom volunteers means none of these little mouths will go empty. Each four-hour shift for our volunteers is a whirlwind of hungry mouths and cheeping babies. It's non-stop in the Birdroom during the spring and summer months!

This level of dedication on the part of our staff and volunteers, and the financial support provided by generous donors gives WildCare the resources to make sure each tiny patient gets what he needs to be released back to the wild.

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Duckling being weighed. Photo by Alison Hermance spacer2.gif

August 11, 2015

CHP Officers Rescue Ducklings

California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer, Kenji Burrage got the alert that there was a duck acting strangely on the side of Doyle Drive just off the Golden Gate Bridge.

The officer went to investigate, and found mama Mallard frantically flapping back and forth and quacking at her baby ducklings trapped in a drainage tunnel under the highway.

Officer Burrage and his partner swung into action to rescue the ducklings, even crawling into the tunnel to capture one that went the wrong way.

What do CHP officers do with a bunch of ducklings they've just rescued? They pop them in the back of their patrol car, of course! Then they lower all the windows and roll slowly down to the water, letting mama duck follow the sound of her peeping babies.

With the family successfully reunited away from the highway, the officers drove away.

But then they heard a "peep-peep!" from the back of the patrol car...

What happened next? Read more to find out!

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Orphaned chipmunks explore a new den. Photo by Melanie Piazz  

July 30, 2015

Orphaned baby chipmunks at WildCare

The intake form for two tiny baby chipmunks simply says “orphaned,” but their story was bigger than that.

Thinking he had a rat accessing the kitchen, these babies' rescuer had decided to take action and placed an electric "zap" trap. Unfortunately, instead of catching the expected rat, he was saddened to see his trap had killed a chipmunk.

He was then very surprised two days later to find two tiny baby chipmunks rolling around helplessly on the driveway.

The accidentally-killed chipmunk had been a nursing mother. The babies had probably stayed quietly in their nest as long as they could before hunger and distress drove them out into the open to try to find help.

Fortunately, they were rescued before a predator found them.

Read these babies' story and watch how our chipmunk experts provide exercise for these growing babies in adorable VIDEO!

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Baby robins in nest. Photo by Alison Hermance  

July 14, 2015

Hungry baby American Robins at WildCare

WildCare admits hundreds of baby songbirds every year during our Baby Season, which lasts from April through August.

Each one has a hungry belly that must be fed frequently (every 45 minutes in most cases!), and each baby must get the diet specific to her needs.

American Robins like these are insectivores, meaning their diet is primarily comprised of, that's right, insects.

Keeping the fast metabolisms of these hungry babies fueled is a major job, but our Birdroom staff and volunteers are up to the challenge.

Click to watch VIDEO of these wonderful, noisy babies enjoying a feeding of mealworms in their hand-knitted nest...
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Curled up badger. Photo by Melanie Piazza  

July 1, 2015

Orphaned badger at WildCare

When this young badger's mother died, everything in her life changed in an instant.

Suddenly she was an orphan. She was disoriented and possibly injured. And, although she didn't know it, humans had become her lifeline, and her only hope.

It was around 7:00pm and the badger's rescuers saw her on the roadside, not far from the body of her dead mom. They called WildCare's 24-hour Hotline (415-456-SAVE (7283)) for help.

Our Hotline operator walked them through safely containing the orphaned, but still potentially dangerous, animal. Then she helped them reach a Marin Humane Society officer, who transported the frightened and confused badger to WildCare.

Read this young badger's story and meet her in THREE fascinating VIDEOS...
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Hungry baby birds. Photo by Alison Hermance  

June 16, 2015

Baby birds by the hundreds

Last year from April 1 through May 31, WildCare admitted 408 baby birds into the Wildlife Hospital.

From June 1 through August 31 last year, 635 birds came through our doors.

What do these numbers mean? They mean our Wildlife Hospital has only begun to see the influx of orphaned songbirds this summer!

Our tiniest baby birds must be fed every 45 minutes from dawn until dusk. That's 15 or more meals every day for each baby bird!

These smallest and most helpless of patients also need a warm, soft place to sleep that replicates the nests their parents built for them. Knitted and crafted wool nests are perfect.

Click to meet some of our current baby bird patients in FIVE very special videos and learn how you can help our baby birds this summer!
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Squirrel post-surgery. Photo by Alison Hermance  

June 3, 2015

Possibly the world's TINIEST orthopedic surgery patient

When baby squirrels fall out of their nests, they often land on their heads. Bloody noses are common injuries, as are broken teeth.

But this little baby had an additional, and very serious injury— his left femur (the big bone in his upper leg) was broken into two completely separate pieces!

How did that happen? Maybe in the fall from the tree, or after being dropped by a crow that picked him up as an easy meal. Either way, at the time he and his sibling arrived at WildCare, his leg could only dangle.

Squirrels are arboreal acrobats, and strong rear legs are mandatory for survival. What could we do for this little orphan that had already been through so much?

Enter veterinary hero, James Farese, DVM, DACVS!

Read more, meet this squirrel in VIDEO and even see some of the surgery!

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Opossum as an orphaned baby. Photo by Kate Lynch  

April 21, 2015

Does WildCare REALLY make a difference for orphaned wild babies?

This little orphan was a miracle baby last summer— an opossum pup so tiny at 18 grams as to almost not be viable, and so late in the season we didn't have an opossum companion to keep her company (hence the stuffed animal she clutches in the photo).

Raised solo, and from such an under-developed age, Opossum Foster Care Team members were very gratified when this opossum grew into healthy adulthood. But would she be able to succeed in the wild?

Fast forward to last week. A young female opossum with a pouch full of healthy babies arrived at WildCare from West Marin, suffering head trauma, probably from being hit by a car.

A routine scan for a microchip elicited a beep... wait, was it possible we'd seen this female opossum before?

Read her story and meet her in VIDEO...
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Gray Fox on intake. Photo by Kate Lynch  

February 24, 2015

Trapped for Two Days

Imagine being trapped in a wire cage for two days in a torrential rainstorm. Think how hungry you'd get, how cold. Think how scared you would be.

This young female Gray Fox knows all too well what a terrifying experience this can be.

A West Marin resident thought animals were digging under his house, so he got himself a "humane" trap and set it up in his yard. Although this fox probably had nothing to do with the damage to the property, she was the one to investigate the trap, and she got locked in.

Then the storm hit.

Meet this fox in our VIDEO, learn why "humane" traps are not humane and discover why a pillowcase is our Medical Staff's best friend!
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Removing the robin's leg band. Photo by Alison Hermance  

February 10, 2015

WildCare's robins and thrushes need worms and berries

What does the early bird get? The worm, of course, but in the Wildlife Hospital we know that robins and thrushes, anyway, will also get up very early for berries.

WildCare's Birdroom needs earthworms (good from your compost) and frozen berries (wild blueberries, the small ones, are the best). Click here for more information...

It's songbird migration time, and WildCare is full of chirping, twittering and berry-eating migrants.

This male American Robin arrived at WildCare after hitting a window. In the past few weeks, we have admitted eleven thrushes and six robins with head trauma from hitting windows.

Meet this robin and a beautiful Varied Thrush in our VIDEOS and learn how we care for head-trauma songbirds at WildCare!
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Storm Petrel. Photo by Alison Hermance  

January 27, 2015

Cruise Ship Rescue

When you work at WildCare, you never really leave your job behind. We call it the "Snow White Effect," which means that animals, both injured and not, always show up when we're out and about.

On a recent cruise vacation to Mexico, four WildCare staffers found out that "Snow White" also happens in the middle of the ocean! WildCare's Ambassador Program Manager, Mary Pounder was enjoying a stroll on the cruise ship's Promenade Deck with her husband, when a small gray shape caught her eye.

A bird, approximately the size of a robin, lay fluffed and stunned near the ship's railing.

"Don't touch it!" shouted a ship's crew member, "you could get sick!

Knowing that wasn't true, and very aware that the bird  needed help, Mary replied, "It's ok, my friends and I work for WildCare!"

Meet this bird, a Storm Petrel, and discover how WildCare Medical Staff saved his life in the cabin of a cruise ship!
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Skunk photo by Kirk McCabe
Photo by Kirk McCabe

January 14, 2015

That skunk doesn't actually want to spray you (or your dog)

The smell of skunk is in the air, and the caller to WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline was extremely agitated.

She had smelled the undeniable scent of skunk wafting across her back yard, and was convinced the animal was lying in wait to spray her and her dog when they left the house.

There's no question that skunk spray is something to be avoided. But did you know that the skunk only uses his spray as a last resort?

Apparently skunk mating season is starting early this year. WildCare's 24-hour Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-SAVE (7283) and our WildCare Solutions service are already answering 5 - 10 calls a day about skunks and providing professional assistance to humanely and non-lethally evict them from living under structures. Usually these calls don't start until mid- to late January!

How can you avoid getting sprayed by skunks at their most active? Click to read more and find out...
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Sedated Great Horned Owl. Photo by Alison Hermance  

January 6, 2015

Physical therapy works on owls too!

In medical terminology, a comminuted fracture is a bone broken so badly it is reduced to splinters. This is obviously an extremely severe injury, and it happened to this Great Horned Owl when a passing car shattered his wing.

Upon intake to the Wildlife Hospital, WildCare Medical Staff wrote on the bird's medical chart "if this bird is ever going to fly again, he'll need surgical repair and even then it is a long shot."

But other than the terribly fractured wing, the owl was very healthy. Even in his injured state, he was eating well on his own, and appeared "bright, alert and responsive" or BAR. This bird deserved a second chance.

Medical Staff gave him strong medications for pain and swelling and developed a treatment plan, contacting avian expert and volunteer veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr to pin the shattered wing.

Read more about this magnificent owl's surgery and treatment, and watch Medical Staff performing Owl Physical Therapy in our VIDEO...
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Saw Whet Owl with wing wrap. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance

November 19, 2014

Tiny owl hits window

Northern Saw Whet Owls may look like soft and cuddly muppets, but in fact they're deadly hunters, swooping through the dark of night to catch small rodents and other pint-sized prey.

This little owl was probably hunting, when suddenly her flight was cut short by a giant pane of glass.

It must have been a major collision with the window, because this owl was knocked unconscious. She was found in the morning by the homeowners, dazed and unable to stand.

Fortunately this bird's rescuers knew she needed medical care and got her to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital.

Because of them, and supporters like you, this little owl has a second chance.

Meet her and watch her exam in our VIDEO...
Great Blue Heron and fishing line. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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November 4, 2014

Great Blue Heron Entangled in Fishing Line

Even when you're a bird almost five feet tall, a few strands of fishing line can lay you low.

This Great Blue Heron was stalking his territory near the San Rafael Harbor and somehow got several strands of fishing line strung around his body. The line prevented him from opening his wings to fly.

In trouble, but still able to walk, he hopped onto rocks near the Harbor, not knowing how much worse his situation could get.

The hooks and lines attached to his neck and body caught on the rocks, and suddenly this bird was dangerously trapped.

Too often WildCare admits patients just like this elegant bird hopelessly ensnarled in fishing line, with infected wounds from dirty fishhook punctures.

Thanks to the help of supporters like you, WildCare was able to save this Blue Heron's life! Read more and meet this beautiful bird in VIDEO!
Mouse with bot fly larvae embedded. Photo by Melanie Piazza
Photo by Melanie Piazza

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October 21, 2014

Just in time for Halloween... it's the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

This Deer Mouse probably felt like she had been invaded by aliens when several bot fly larvae hatched and grew to massive proportions under her skin.

Like monsters out of a horror film, flies of the family Oestridae lay their eggs on live mammals. The eggs hatch, and the larvae burrow into the host's living flesh to grow to maturity.

Fortunately for this small native rodent, WildCare's Director of Animal Care, Melanie Piazza was on a run and happened to see the mouse cowering under a leaf. Melanie brought her to the Wildlife Hospital, where the massive disfiguring lumps on the mouse's body made diagnosis easy.

Bot fly cases are rare, but possibly due to the California drought, incidents of these and other parasitic infestations in our wildlife patients are on the rise.

Learn more and meet this little patient in our VIDEO...
      Don't Feed Wildlife sign  
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October 8, 2014

 Killing with kindness

Did you know that feeding wild animals can actually kill them?

The California Ground Squirrels at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley were not only facing potential nutritional deficits and overpopulation from human handouts, but actual extermination at the hands of the Berkeley City Council.

Fortunately WildCare Director of Wildlife Solutions, Kelle Kacmarcik and representatives from several other organizations stepped in to contest the use of lethal methods to "solve" a ground squirrel overpopulation problem.

Simply exterminating wildlife won't solve a problem like this one, and statutes against feeding wildlife are absolutely mandatory to control the population.

WildCare and our allies convinced the Berkeley City Council to do the right thing. On July 1, 2014 the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to approve a new ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild animals in city parks or on other public property.

Click to learn more about our advocacy work, and why, if you care, you won't feed wildlife...

Lead poisoned gull. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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September 30, 2014

western gull presents a medical mystery

Radiographs allowed WildCare Medical Staff to see lead pellets embedded in this adult Western Gull's wing, but they knew that wasn't all that was wrong with him.

The bird was lethargic and unstable, with drooping head and wings. He could barely stand – and he was quiet – a very unusual state for a gull. His symptoms seemed to point lead poisoning, a common enough affliction in scavenger birds.

But animals get lead poisoning when they ingest lead, not when they have been shot, and x-rays showed no lead pellets in the bird's digestive tract. Something didn't add up.


Red-tailed Hawk at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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September 24, 2014

petition and data to support AB 2657

Until the passing of this important bill, if local policies didn't specifically prohibit it, pest control companies could place rodenticides right in our state parks and wildlife refuges.

Instead of finding refuge in these protected areas, the owls, hawks, foxes, bobcats and other wildlife could find poisoned rodents, and become poisoned themselves.

With the SUCCESSFUL passing of Assembly Bill AB 2657, this shameful practice will be stopped.

WildCare's research has helped anti-rodenticide advocates make the case against these toxic poisons.


Raccoon prepped for surgery. Photo by Kate Lynch

Photo by Kate Lynch

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September 16, 2014

raccoon rescue and emergency surgery

When WildCare Education Program Manager Marco Berger saw cars stopped on the side of the road, he pulled over to see if anyone needed help. What he found was a raccoon who had been hit by a car. He called WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline – 415-456-SAVE (7283) – and followed their advice until the Marin Humane Society officer arrived.

This young raccoon almost made it across one half of a busy street with her family, but a passing fender caught her back leg and sent her sprawling with a severely broken femur.

 Dr. James Farese agreed to do a complex orthopedic bone-plating surgery in the very constrained confines of WildCare's Medical Room.


Baby squirrel at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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September 9, 2014

it's still raining squirrels!

It may be September, but we're still admitting baby squirrels. Sometimes it seems they're raining out of the treetops!

This baby Eastern Gray Squirrel toppled from her nest in Novato, CA and landed squarely on her face. She arrived with a bloody nose, a split lip, and had broken her two front teeth completely off!

Like other rodents, squirrels' teeth never stop growing. This is lucky for baby squirrels like this one, because given time, specialized care and treatment, broken teeth can and do grow back!


Baby raccoon at WildCare. Photo by Kate Lynch

Photo by Kate Lynch

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September 3, 2014

six-day old raccoons in august?

We think of spring as the season of newborn baby animals, and there's a good reason for that. WildCare admits about 80% of our orphaned baby patients in the months of spring and early summer.

But, as these little raccoons can attest, not all babies are born in the spring. When a reunite attempt with their mother failed, these eyes-closed orphans arrived at WildCare on August 27, just six days after being born.

A deep sigh went through the ranks of our Raccoon Team. It has been a busy baby raccoon season, and the team was anticipating less work.



Baby Dark-eyed Junco. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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August 19, 2014

rescued from a cat's mouth!

This Dark-eyed Junco is one of the nestling birds still arriving almost daily at the Wildlife Hospital. He is right at the age when he is experimenting with hopping out of the nest. It's dangerous for a bird like this to end up on the ground, but that's exactly where the cat found him. 

Fortunately, the cat was startled into dropping the cheeping baby, and his rescuer knew to bring him to WildCare.

This patient is part of the second brood of baby birds that we are seeing in the Wildlife Hospital. 


 Turkey Vulture at WildCare. Photo by Alison HermancePhoto by Alison Hermance    orange spacer line
August 12, 2014

miraculous recovery for a turkey vulture

This Turkey Vulture arrived at the Wildlife Hospital utterly unresponsive. When Medical Staff checked them, his pupils were fixed and dilated. In every way he appeared nearly dead. 

And yet his vital signs, heartbeat and breathing were strong. This bird was alive, but nothing Medical Staff did could revive him.

A few other symptoms further complicated the mystery of this bird's illness. There was an abrasion, or burn on the exterior of his crop, and abrasions on his wings. His crop was very full, and over the course of emergency medical treatment, it got fuller, indicating that the contents of his stomach were coming back up. 

To top it all, the bird's crop and mouth were full of a revolting brown mush, incredibly smelly. It looked like he was about to regurgitate.


Rattlesnake at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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August 6, 2014

how do you untangle a rattlesnake?

Very carefully, of course!

This large snake got himself tangled in garden netting as he patrolled his territory looking for rodents to eat. In fact they eat a lot of rodents and provide a real service to the environment. 

Rattlesnakes have a bad reputation, and certainly they can be very dangerous, but they're also shy, move slowly, and don't actually want to bite you.Very obligingly, rattlesnakes give you a good warning before they strike.

Take a look...

 Baby opossums. Photo by Kate Lynch

Photo by Kate Lynch

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July 29, 2014

opossum miracle babies!

The accident that killed these babies' mother must have happened more than a day ago, so there was little hope of finding any surviving pups. But a WildCare member in West Marin stopped her car to check anyway

Sometimes the mother's marsupium will protect her babies, even if she is killed, and the best chance of survival exists if the mother's body is brought to the Wildlife Hospital very quickly after the collision.

Imagine WildCare Medical Staff's surprise to find two bright, healthy, completely unharmed babies hidden deep in the pouch! This little pair went through an ordeal that should have taken their lives. But somehow they survived.

Take a look...

spacer2.gifBaby squirrel in knitted nest. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance

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July 15, 2014

we have a confession...

All summer we've heard from WildCare Medical Staff and Foster Care volunteers that they see potential in using knitted and crafted nests for mammals.

The nests only work for certain kinds of birds. For example, raptors have talons that get caught in the yarn, so we don't use them for baby hawks and owls.

We've wanted to experiment with providing cozy nests for our orphaned mammals, while paying attention to the specific needs of each tiny patient. 

Take a look...

Raccoon baby at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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July 1, 2014

Someone left this baby raccoon in the trash

When neighbors out for a walk heard whickering noises coming from the top of a pile of junk in a vacant lot down the street, they decided to investigate. Fortunately for this little raccoon and his three siblings, they did.

Raccoon baby season is in full swing. Whether someone illegally trapped and removed these babies' mother raccoon, or they just found the unaccompanied babies and decided to get rid of them, we'll never know.

But these now-orphaned raccoons were found clinging to each other atop a precarious pile of junk, and there is no way their mother would have left them in that condition.

When they arrived at WildCare, they were dehydrated, but not terribly so, and they had a small amount of milk in their bellies, indicating they hadn't been exposed and alone too long.

Learn more and meet this little bandit in VIDEO...
Hungry Goldfinch at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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June 25, 2014

How long since these little birds last ate?

If you could ask this Goldfinch and his siblings, they would probably say that it has been ages, and that they're starving... But really it has only been 45 minutes. And actually, they've been fed every 45 minutes since daybreak this morning!

Baby birds like these little Goldfinches are always hungry. As their foster parents, WildCare volunteers and staff must step in to replicate the frequency of feedings wild bird parents provide for their young.

They're getting the nutrition they need to grow up strong and ready for the wild, but these Goldfinches still think they're always hungry!

Watch our VIDEO of the fluttery chaos that ensues at Goldfinch feeding time...
Baby blackbird in the Birdroom. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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June 10, 2014

Baby birds by the hundreds

Last year from April 1 through May 31, WildCare admitted 529 baby birds into the Wildlife Hospital. From June 1 through August 31 last year, 831 birds came through our doors.

What do these numbers mean? They mean our Wildlife Hospital has only just begun seeing the influx of orphaned songbirds this summer!

These smallest and most helpless of patients also need a warm, soft place to sleep that replicates their nests. Knitted and crafted wool nests are perfect.

Take a look...
Baby Northern Spotted Owl on scale. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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June 3, 2014

Hooray! d-CON to finally stop producing rat poisons deadly to wildlife

Why is this such good news?

Meet Patient #736, a fluffy baby Northern Spotted Owl that fell from his nest in Mill Valley.

Fortunately, this little "brancher" hadn't injured himself in his tumble. WildCare Medical Staff knew he would be much better off back in his parents' care, so they made arrangements for our volunteer arborist to return him to his nest.

But we always worry— if this owlet's mother caught a rodent that had eaten rat poison, she wouldn't know she was poisoning her baby. But she would be.

Owls, hawks and other wildlife that catch and eat poisoned rodents end up poisoned themselves. Testing data from WildCare's Rodenticide Diagnostics and Advocacy Program (RDAP) proves this conclusively.

The effects of anti-coagulant poisons on baby animals like this little owlet can be even more catastrophic, which is why EPA efforts to get them off the shelves are so important.

Meet this little Spotted Owl in VIDEO, watch our tree climber volunteer return him to his Mill Valley nest, and learn more about the good news on d-CON...
Baby Red-tail at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance
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May 28, 2014

Return a baby Red-tailed Hawk to her nest?

"WildCare does a fantastic job raising orphaned baby animals like this young Red-tailed Hawk," says WildCare's Director of Animal Care, Melanie Piazza, "but there is no question that it is better for them to remain in the care of their wild parents."

For most of our patients, returning to their parents' care isn't a possibility. If she is injured or if her parents can't be located, a baby will be raised at WildCare until she's old enough to be released.

But she was uninjured, and we knew the parents of this fluffy baby were still in the tall pine tree from which she had fallen.

But the tree she came from was over 100 feet high.

How do you return a baby hawk to her nest high in a wind-blown San Francisco pine tree?

Take a look...
Finch patients at WildCare. Photo by Kate Lynch
Photo by Alison Hermance

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May 20, 2014

Wild babies need your trees!

To the sound of buzzing chainsaws, the nest this little finch and his four siblings called home came crashing to the ground.

The tree in the apartment complex that had sheltered them was being cut down, and no one had checked the branches for nests of baby birds before cutting.

Spring may feel like the proper time to neaten up your garden and prune your trees, but be careful—wild animals are could be using those branches as a nursery even as you read this!

You probably heard about the brutal orphaning of baby Black-crowned Night Herons at a Post Office in Oakland earlier this month. Their story is just one horrific example of a tragedy WildCare sees every day.

Take a look...
Fox kit at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance

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May 14, 2014

A live "humane" trap nearly orphaned these two baby foxes

Aware that animals had moved under her backyard shed, and concerned that they would get into her vegetable garden, a San Rafael resident placed a live trap, hoping to get rid of whatever animal had moved in.

What she caught surprised her— two tiny, terrified fox kits.

At WildCare in the spring and summer, we worry constantly that someone will decide to take a "nuisance" animal problem into their own hands and set out a trap.

This time of year, most nuisance animal issues involve mothers with babies, and a set trap all too frequently separates a new wild family. In Baby Season, there's no such thing as a "humane" trap.

Read more and find out what happened to these babies...

Starling in knitted nest. Photo by Melanie Piazza  

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May 7, 2014

Join our Baby Bird Nest Craft-Along to save 1,000 baby birds!

Wildcare admits nearly 1,000 orphaned baby birds every spring and summer.

The essential ingredients for caring for baby birds are food and warmth— it is imperative that they be kept warm, especially when they are still fluffy.

Hand-crafted nests and pouches are the perfect solution!

You can help! Get crafty, and join Wildcare’s Baby Bird Nest campaign. We need 1,200 hand-crafted nests to help keep our baby birds cozy and warm. We also need pouches in which nests can rest for added warmth. These fun projects are easy to do for all ages, and WildCare's tiniest and neediest patients will benefit!

Meet some of our baby bird patients in VIDEO and learn how you can knit a nest or craft a pouch too!
Duckling patients at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance
Photo by Alison Hermance

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April 29, 2014

Our ducklings go swimming

Many a good physical therapy regimen requires swim therapy as a primary component.

It's the same in WildCare's Wildlife Hospital— especially if you're a duckling!

These four Mallard ducklings came to WildCare after their mother failed to return for them— something must have frightened her and caused her to fly away. Mother ducks will usually return to their babies after a fright, but for some reason these babies' mother didn't.

After watching them huddled in her yard for a couple of hours, the homeowner called WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-SAVE (7283) and was asked to bring the newly-orphaned babies to WildCare.

Read more and watch VIDEO of these ducklings in the Wildlife Hospital...

Fawn receiving Pedialyte. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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April 22, 2014

Was this fawn kidnapped?

When this Black-tailed Deer fawn arrived at WildCare, his glossy coat and clear eyes at first made Medical Staff suspect that we had a kidnap victim on our hands.

Not all the fawn patients that arrive at our doors actually need our help. Sometimes a well-meaning person "rescues" a baby animal that is not actually in need of rescue.

In fact, one out of five of the fawn patients brought to the Wildlife Hospital in 2013 were actually healthy and were returned to their mothers immediately.

With this in mind, Medical Staff began to examine this spotted baby with the hope that a full belly and excellent hydration would mean Mom had fed him recently and he could be returned to her care.

But alas, this was not to be.

 Opossum babies in Mama's pouch. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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April 15, 2014

Mother opossum and nine babies!

Most of us know that Virginia Opossums are North America's only marsupials — pouched mammals like kangaroos. But few have ever seen the pouch (called a marsupium) in action.

This mother opossum was brought to WildCare by a Marin Humane Society officer after she had been hit by a car. In the accident, her eye had been severely damaged, but astonishingly, the nine (that's right, nine!) baby opossums in her marsupium were unharmed.

For the past weeks, Mama and her nine babies have been recuperating in the Wildlife Hospital. The baby opossums have begun leaving the safety of the pouch, and are starting to explore the world around them, and they're even starting to enjoy real food.

Read more and watch the video...

Kali the Red-tailed Hawk. Photo by Christy Balich

Photo by Christy Balich


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April 8, 2014

A victory for wildlife! Rat poisons will be taken off the shelves this July!

Despite what the manufacturers of rat poisons want you to believe, it is rarely if ever necessary to resort to poison to get rid of rats and mice. In fact, these products are very dangerous. Awareness of this has led the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to adopt a regulation that will make many common rat poisons "California restricted materials."

In effect, this means that the poisons will no longer be sold on store shelves and they will be out of reach to the general consumer.

As a WildCare supporter, you already know that the hawks and owls that eat poisoned rats end up poisoned themselves. You've seen our shocking test results (see them here).

This new regulation is a positive step in the right direction to help our wildlife, but the battle against these toxins isn't over yet.


Baby squirrel. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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April 1, 2014

Baby squirrels – brought to you by AT&T!

Everywhere you look this time of year, animals are preparing nests for spring's baby season.

The mother of these two tiny orphans was no exception, and she probably thought she had found the perfect spot to raise her little ones— a cozy tube perched securely on wires atop a tall pole.

But the mother squirrel didn't know that this was a cable splice box for AT&T, and that periodically technicians would be pulling the box apart to make repairs.

When this happened, the poor mother squirrel panicked and fled, and the AT&T technician found two tiny, pink, squirming baby squirrels curled together in a nest of leaves and grass.


Squirrel in a protective sweater. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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March 25, 2014

Why is this squirrel wearing a sweater?

Sausalito resident David Meyer found this adult squirrel on the sidewalk after the animal had toppled from a tree. It's very rare for adult squirrels to fall, so why had this one lost his grip?

WildCare Medical Staff discovered that a terrible case of mange and ear mites had made the squirrel so itchy he had torn ragged holes in the skin behind his own ears with incessant scratching. They guessed that his frantic scratching may also have caused him to lose his balance and fall to the ground.

Treatment for mites takes time to take effect, and squirrel anatomy precludes the protective "Elizabethan collar" used on cats and dogs to stop scratching.


The Bobcat glances back. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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March 12, 2014

This amazing cat is a survivor

It has been nearly three months since Bobcat patient #1752 arrived at WildCare— skinny, exhausted and crawling with parasites.

You met her on intake in our December 18 email, and then saw her again several weeks later, her condition much improved. At that point she was transferred out of intensive care at WildCare, and into a much larger enclosure at our sister center, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue.

Although the cat's ears remain scarred and misshapen, she has recovered completely from the infection that caused her to deform her own ears with scratching. Mild scars on her cornea have left her eye with a cloudy appearance, but our consulting veterinary opthamologist confirmed the eye is perfectly functional.

At Sonoma the cat demonstrated multiple times that she could stalk and hunt with great facility. Finally, after so much time in care, it was time for this Bobcat to be released!

Read more and watch this beautiful cat run free in our VIDEO!

Barn Owl. Photo by Alex Godbe

Photo by Alex Godbe


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March 5, 2014

Barn Owl dies from eating a poisoned rat

The Barn Owl had been banded by a Hungry Owl Project and WildCare volunteer in 2005. Eight years later, WildCare's Wildlife Hospital admitted the bird, and identified her by the federal band around her leg as a nestling we'd met before.

This owl had survived well beyond the average lifespan of a Barn Owl, and she had successfully maintained a territory in San Rafael, less than ten miles from where she had hatched as an owlet.

But when she was admitted to the Wildlife Hospital in October of last year, this owl was dead on arrival. We sent tissue samples for testing, and, when we received the final toxicology report, the evidence was unequivocal:

This Barn Owl died of rat poisoning.

Read more and see WildCare's SHOCKING 2013 rodenticide test results...

Screech Owl patient at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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February 25, 2014

Western Screech Owl survives five days in a chimney

This Western Screech Owl spent the first five days of last week trapped in the chimney of a Kentfield home without access to food or water.

The residents had heard scratching coming from the fireplace for several days, and thought it could be rats. But when the sounds didn't resolve themselves, they decided to investigate.

Imagine their surprise when their flashlight caught the bright yellow eyes of this little screech owl blinking down at them from above!

But how do you get a scared and dehydrated little owl out of your chimney?

Answering that question required the help of WildCare's 24-hour Living with Wildlife Hotline and the cooperation of a number of local organizations.

Read more and meet this screech owl in VIDEO...

Red-tailed Hawk. Photo by Melanie Piazza

Photo by Melanie Piazza


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February 18, 2014

A gunshot Red-tailed Hawk

The gun pellet didn't kill this young Red-tailed Hawk. Despite the pain, and despite being unable to hunt or defend himself with his shattered leg and dangling foot, this extraordinary bird somehow survived his injury for more than a week. When he finally reached the point of being too weak to fly, a caring person found him and rescued him from the side of the road.

A radiograph (x-ray) clearly showed the path of the pellet through the bird's leg.

Click to see VIDEO of the shocking x-ray and learn how physical therapy helped heal this gorgeous bird!

Skunks. Photo by Linda Campbell

Photo by Linda Campbell


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February 11, 2014

That skunk doesn't want to spray

The caller to WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline was extremely agitated.

She had seen a black and white striped shape waddle across her back yard, and was convinced the skunk was lying in wait to spray her and her dog when they left the house.

There's no question that skunk spray is something to be avoided. But did you know that the skunk only uses his spray as a last resort?

February is the peak of skunk mating season, and WildCare's 24-hour Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-SAVE (7283) and our WildCare Solutions service are answering 10 - 20 calls a day about skunks.

How can you avoid getting sprayed with skunks at their most active? Click to read more and find out..

Black-tailed Deer doe in grass. Photo by Trish Carney
Photo by Trish Carney trishcarney.com

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February 5, 2014

What will the drought do to wildlife?

There hasn’t been a drought in California this severe in over 100 years.

A century ago there were no wildlife rehabilitation hospitals. That means we don’t have historical WildCare hospital records to show us what we might expect for patient intake in the Wildlife Hospital resulting from the drought, but other areas of the United States have been dealing with severe drought for several years.

WildCare's Director of Animal Care, Melanie Piazza has been talking with sister wildlife centers in Texas to see what this season might hold for us.

How does severe drought affect wildlife? What does WildCare expect to see in the Wildlife Hospital in the months to come?

Click to read more and find out how you can help wildlife in the drought!

Hermit Thrush patient at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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January 28, 2014

Migrating songbirds need help.

Hermit Thrushes, like patient #3038, are beautiful insectivorous songbirds that winter in parts of the Bay Area.

So far this winter, WildCare has admitted a surprising number of these bright little birds— 37 of them! Many of the admitted birds were caught by cats, but others, like this patient, were stunned when they hit windows.

Fortunately, WildCare's Wildlife Hospital staff and volunteers are here to care for each injured bird as he arrives.

Read more and watch the video...

Bobcat hissing. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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January 21, 2014

How do you capture a healthy bobcat?

You may remember Bobcat Patient #1752, admitted to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital on December 13, 2013.

Emaciated and infested with ticks, mites, fleas and intestinal worms on arrival at WildCare, a few weeks of care improved this young Bobcat's condition dramatically! She was ready for a larger enclosure.

How do you go about netting, sedating and examining a Bobcat that is now feeling much better, thank you?

Read more ...

 Intake DatesChart of when babies have arrived

Click here for a larger chart.


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January 14, 2014

When will the first baby of 2014 arrive?

Most wild mothers give birth in the spring, once the weather has warmed up and more food is available.

But our mild winters, wild babies can arrive in January! The first baby at WildCare always brings mixed feelings. We're excited to see the first tiny face of this year's Baby Season, but we're sad because we know the baby came to WildCare because something unfortunate happened to his or her mother. When do you think our first baby will arrive?

Click here to place your bet.

Brown Booby at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Photo by Alison Hermance


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January 7, 2014

A Brown Booby at WildCare

When this bird arrived wrapped in the shirt of her rescuer, WildCare's Medical Staff noted her sharp spear-like beak, perfect for catching fish, her webbed feet, ideal for swimming, her rounded build, great for floating and diving, and knew we had a booby on our hands.

But what kind of booby?

Pelagic bird specialists insisted she must be a Blue-footed Booby, a few of which we had admitted to WildCare in the past. But her obviously yellow feet and other markings finally convinced everyone that we had a Brown Booby— the first ever of her species at WildCare!

Read more and watch the video...


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