Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wildlife driven into urban areas after Gorge wildfire

By Tracie Hornung

As Columbia River Gorge residents are all too aware, a 48,000 acre wildfire consumed vast amounts of wildlife habitat this fall. Because of the fire, wildlife has been driven down from the once-forested hills into urban areas such as Hood River.

Douglas squirrel

Douglas squirrel.
Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW.

A Rowena Wildlife Clinic volunteer has noted that some human residents are complaining of the increase in animals, such as the Douglas squirrel, moving into urban and suburban neighborhoods.

However, with their homes destroyed, wildlife have no choice but to move on and find new habitat. RWC personnel ask city residents to have some patience for the situation and allow the animals to do what they must to survive the winter — especially since it’s getting too late in the season for them to find yet another place to call home.

Of course, if humans don’t want wildlife to get too comfortable living in an urban setting for the long term, they should not feed them. But on the other hand, to help the animals in their new, unfamiliar habitat the kind thing is to keep pets from attacking them whenever possible. That means keeping pets inside this winter as much as possible or to make sure they are supervised when outside.

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From the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Douglas squirrel

Tamiasciurus douglasii

The Douglas squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels in Oregon. The color and markings of this squirrel differ individually, geographically and seasonally, appearing a dusky olive to brownish gray with an indistinct band of reddish brown with a blackish band along the flanks.

In Oregon, it occurs in coniferous forests from the Pacific coast to as far east as western Baker County.

Douglas squirrels are active during the daylight hours year-round, although they may remain in their nests or tree dens for a day or two during inclement weather.

Beaver on Road to Recovery; Take the Wolf/Coyote Test

beaver

North American beaver (Castor canadensis) recovering at Rowena Wildlife Clinic. Photo by Joni Greenberger, DVM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This young beaver was found in the Columbia River after having been injured by a motorboat propeller. It was delivered to Rowena Wildlife Clinic where it is still in rehabilitation but doing well.

For more information about beavers, visit the University of Michigan’s Critter Catalog.


In the last weeks of summer, as the Columbia River Gorge struggled with what grew into a 48,000-acre wildfire, the clinic was fortunately never in danger. And, surprisingly, few animals needing treatment were brought to the clinic. However, a barred owl that was hit by a fire rescue truck needed minor treatment. Happily, after recovery the owl was released September 24.

For more information about barred owls, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Could you tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf in the wild?

Courtesy Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Take this fun test from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

On Turkey Vultures

turkey vulture

Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)
Courtesy National Park Service /Brad Sutton

by Tracie Hornung

I watched the turkey vulture swerve and bank above the highway, and thought of my friend who cringed when I recently mentioned the species. I had forgotten, until then, that her reaction is quite common.

I imagine it’s that bald red head, looking as if it had just emerged from the bloodied mass of a carcass. (It may have.) Or the silhouette against the sky of sharp wings that appear torn and scraggly. A living, breathing, soaring symbol of death and decay.

But I was surprised when I got to know a couple of turkey vulture teenagers at Rowena Wildlife Clinic. It’s true -– up close they still aren’t beautiful. But the first time I encountered them, I was touched to realize they were shy and not the slightest bit aggressive. In fact, they scampered away as I brought their meal of dead rodents into their enclosure.

In time, they grew to accept my presence but stayed cautious. That’s their innate personality; raptor experts know them to be gentle, but elusive birds. Their only real defense is to vomit a lump of foul-smelling semi-digested meat, which deters most creatures. Fortunately, the teenage vultures at the rehab clinic were never threatened enough by me to do that, but I’m glad they always remained wary.

Once when my husband and I were driving a narrow road through a forest, I commented how sad it was that all the birds in the area, even those away from the road, immediately flew off. But smart, or course. They were, rightly, just working on surviving.

So whenever I see a turkey vulture soaring in a thermal, I don’t see a symbol of death and decay. I see a bird going about the business of being a bird.

For more about turkey vultures visit Cornell University’s All About Birds website.

How to help RWC: Oregon wildlife news

How you can help Rowena Wildlife Clinic

This is the clinic’s busiest time of year. The seasonal combination of newborn wildlife and increased human beings outside means that more animals are injured and found.

bald eagle

Young recovering bald eagle at Rowena Wildlife Clinic. Photo by Tracie Hornung

How can you help? First, if you find an animal in need please call the clinic first. And, after calling, if there is any way possible you can deliver the animal to the clinic that will help the clinic immensely. Volunteers, who all have other jobs and commitments, are sometimes hard pressed to make the time to retrieve the animal. The volunteer you speak to on the phone will be happy to explain how you can safely pick up and deliver the animal. See this link on our website to learn more.

And, of course, as a nonprofit organization, the clinic can always use donations. If you would like to contribute to help save injured wildlife, please visit our Donate page. If you choose to donate online, you don’t need a Paypal account to do so.

Harsh winter took heavy toll on wildlife in Oregon, western U.S.

Wildlife suffered higher than normal losses this winter in severe weather across the western United States, where the toll included the deaths of all known fawns in one Wyoming deer herd and dozens of endangered bighorn sheep in California.

Wildlife managers in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington also reported higher losses of animals in the wake of one of the coldest and snowiest winters in decades. Parts of the Rockies saw snowfall as late as mid-June.

See the rest of the story in the Oregonian.

Money for wildlife trapping reinstated in Oregon state budget committee

Despite looking for ways to cut  costs, Oregon’s legislative budget writers support spending nearly $1 million over the next two years to pay the state’s share of a program that helps fund wildlife trappers in dozens of counties across the state.

See the rest of the story in the Oregonian.

Disturbing graphic shows number of government wildlife kills in U.S.

Big game animals are killed in Oregon more than any state. See the graphic in the Oregonian.

Tests show no lead: recent bald eagle patient has chance at recovery

Bald Eagle

One of RWC’s recent bald eagle patients. Photo by Ron Kikel.

by Tracie Hornung

Rowena Wildlife Clinic recently got some good news: An injured bald eagle found this week in Hood River, Oregon, is not suffering from lead shot poisoning! See the story of its rescue in the Hood River News, written before tests showed the bird is free of lead.

However, bald eagles and other raptors are still not safe, especially since the new head of the Interior Department, Ryan Zinke, on his first day on the job signed an order to roll back a policy that would have kept lead out of wildlife refuges.

The policy Zinke reversed would have phased out lead ammunition and fishing tackle from national wildlife refuges by 2022. Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that persists in water and soil for years.

Birds are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Birds of prey eat animal carcasses that contain lead shot fragments — making lead poisoning an enormous threat for iconic species like bald eagles and California condors. And ducks and waterfowl rooting around the bottom of wetlands accidentally eat discarded lead.

Rowena Wildlife Clinic has often seen the effects of lead poisoning in raptors. In fact, just last winter, despite her best efforts Dr. Cypher lost a bald eagle to lead poisoning. Although no one could say with certainty how the eagle came to ingest the lead, it was a stark reminder that lead poisoning is an ever-present threat to wildlife.

Many hunters and fishers appreciate the necessity of protecting wildlife from lead. But others who complain that ammunition made of other metals cost too much compared to lead shot have won over politicians currently in office.

However, it isn’t just wildlife that suffer from lead poisoning. Humans who eat animals killed with lead shot are vulnerable, too, especially since it has a propensity to shatter into minute fragments. See this video from the Tulsa World

A recent study found that children are even more susceptible to lifelong problems related to lead poisoning, including lower IQ, poor muscle coordination and damage to the nervous system, including kidneys, and/or hearing. See Kids’ Health for more information.

If we can’t convince politicians that wildlife are worth saving from the effects of lead, perhaps they will be more sympathetic to the human threat.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center offers Earth Day presentation on non-lead hunting

Oregon Zoo’s Non-Lead Hunting Education director, Leland Brown, will present a program from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. April 22 at the Discovery Center in The Dalles, Oregon, titled “Non-lead Hunting: Continuing a Tradition of Conservation.” Get more info here.

Ski slope staff save freezing Barn Owl

by Tracie Hornung

As employees of Mt. Hood Meadows were on the ski slopes doing their jobs earlier this month, one of them spotted a nearly frozen Barn Owl in the snow. Meadows staffer Carrie Sidwell picked up the poor bird and skied down the slope with it in her arms!

Photo by Nick Adams

Photo by Nick Adams

The owl was transferred to Rowena Wildlife Clinic where rehabilitator Carol Rodrick began first response protocols, including putting it in an incubator to warm up. Although the bird did not appear injured, it was so cold and thin she was afraid it wouldn’t survive the night. But by morning it was standing up in the incubator and looking at her! 

Mt Hood Barn Owl

Photo by RWC

The ski staff understandably wanted to know why the owl was at such a high elevation, especially at this time of year: It’s probably because of Hood River County’s recent weather. It has been an exceptionally long, cold and snowy winter. And in its quest for food and warmth, the owl may have caught a warm updraft that swept it to the ski slope. Fortunately, the ski crew was in the right place at the right time!

The crew named the bird Cutty and it continues to be cared for at the clinic. Carol says she is “guardedly hopeful” that Cutty will recover.

“Thanks to Carrie, Wes and Nick,” Carol said in a Facebook posting, “for picking up the Barn Owl and transporting it to the clinic. We depend upon people like you to look out for our injured wild friends.”

Visit Cornell University’s All  About Birds website to learn more about Barn Owls

Feeding winter songbirds? Here are some tips

by Tracie Hornung

At first blush, feeding songbirds in winter sounds like nothing but a positive activity.

Darkened Junco. Courtesy USFWS. Dave Menke photo.

But I’ve heard the concern that if you start feeding songbirds in winter on a regular basis, you’re dooming them if you suddenly leave on vacation for a few weeks – after they’ve been “spoiled” by their human-supplied meals.

Another worry is that regular feeding of songbirds in winter may ultimately weaken them. Two studies in Europe and the U.K. have found that songbirds fed all winter produce fewer eggs, have fewer chicks fledge – and those that do have lower survival rates. This article in Cool Green Science explores some possible reasons. But because these findings were the result of only two studies, more research obviously needs to be done. 

Regarding leaving your birds for a frolic in the tropics, you can go guilt-free if you can coax a neighbor or friend to feed while you’re gone. Or if that’s not possible, gradually taper off the amount of food you’re putting out before you go. And according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, birds have adapted to changes in food sources and usually quickly revert to foraging in the wild.

snow

Tracie Hornung photo

If you want to know more about feeding birds in winter view Cornell’s “Bird Notes” publication on Winter Bird Feeding.