Tag Archives: wildlife

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.

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.

 

 

 

Conference provides loads of info to wildlife rehabilitators

Attendees settle in at the conference.

Attendees settle in at the conference.
Tracie Hornung photo

By Tracie Hornung

Dr. Jean Cypher and volunteers of Rowena Wildlife Center recently traveled to Salem to attend the one-day Third Biennial Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference, sponsored by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Highlights included cutting-edge speakers in the wildlife health and rehabilitation community. Staff members, volunteers and students involved with wildlife rehabilitation centers in Oregon and Washington attended.

It’s always fun being in a room full of “animal people” and this conference was no exception. And it was encouraging to see a broad range of ages – from experts who have been working with wildlife for decades to young students and volunteers just starting out in the field.

A whole lot of information was packed into the eight-hour conference. Physical rehabilitation, pain management, behavior, and recent research pertaining to birds and mammals were among the many topics. But I found the three most interesting were on positive reinforcement training by Cascade Raptor Center, black bear rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center in Washington state, and the ODFW presentation on white-nose syndrome in bats. Bat researchers are trying to find the answer to why white-nose syndrome “jumped” across the continental U.S. from Minnesota to Washington, where the syndrome was found this spring. See the ODFW press release.

Other topics at the conference were:

  •  Release Criteria
  •  Criteria for selection of education birds
  •  Biosecurity and zoonotic disease
  •  Raptor re-feeding syndrome
  •  Seabird facility design and air sampling
  •  Small mammal rehab
  •  Update on regulations

This conference was a worthwhile experience for wildlife rehabilitators, and it’s great that the state clearly values and encourages the work of independent rehabilitation centers.

Busy beavers help themselves and their ecosystems

By Tracie Hornung

Beaver

American Beaver (Castor canadensis), Oregon’s official state animal. Courtesy ODFW

If you’ve ever seen a beaver in the wild, you’re one of the lucky ones.

These mammals, North America’s largest rodent, are most active in the evening or at night. Beavers may weigh up to 65 pounds and average about four feet long. Their habitat consists of ponds, marshes and streams, and their bodies have evolved to fit perfectly within that environment. Thanks to webbed hind feet, a broad paddle-like tail, and membranes that cover the eyes when the animal is underwater, beavers are supreme swimmers. (But that evolutionary design makes them rather clumsy on land.) They can remain underwater for at least 15 minutes by slowing their heart rate. And their large teeth — their upper incisors can grow up to an inch long — contribute greatly to their well-known logging abilities.

Beaver tree

Results of beaver activity.
Tracie Hornung photo

But it is their thick luxurious fur, ranging from reddish brown to black, that defined their destiny after European settlers invaded North America. In fact, Oregon’s early economy was built on beaver pelts. During the 1800s, when European and U.S. East Coast demand for beaver hats and coats was at its peak, fur trappers nearly eliminated the species through unregulated trapping.

With proper management, however, beavers have become re-established and are now common throughout their range. But habitat destruction has become their most recent threat, and the improvement of wetlands and riparian areas is necessary for beavers, as well as a myriad of other species — which are helped by beavers’ aquatic activities.

Beavers build dams to create deep water that protects them from predators, helps them access their food supply and provides underwater entrances to their dens. And the ponds that beavers create expand wetlands and enhance habitat for many other fish and wildlife species, such as juvenile coho salmon.

Beaver Dam

Beaver dam
Courtesy USFWS

It’s no wonder the phrase “busy as a beaver” exists because beavers are industrious and skilled loggers and carpenters. They can fell a tree up to five-and-a-half feet in diameter. They cut down trees to construct their dens, dams, and for food. They enjoy eating the leaves, inner bark, and twigs of aspen (a favorite food), alder, birch, cottonwood, willow and other deciduous trees.

The dens they build (also known as lodges) are waterproofed with mud, and serve as a place to rest, stay warm, give birth and raise young — an average of four kits per litter. Beavers live in colonies that may contain up to 12 individuals. The colony is usually made up of the adult breeding pair and their offspring. Most kits remain with the adults until they are almost two years old. The kits then go off on their own in search of mates and suitable spots to begin colonies, which may be several miles away.

If you’re interested in learning how to help beavers and create sustainable habitat for them, read “Living with Wildlife: American Beaver” at the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife web site: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/docs/beaver.pdf


Sadly, beavers’ logging and dam-building that sometimes results in flooding or in damaging property inspire humans to remove them. In Oregon, landowners are allowed to trap beavers. However, the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife states on its web site, “Removing beavers is often a short-term solution as other beavers will move into the area if suitable habitat is present.”

To learn about recent research at Boston University related to this issue, see “Why Monogamous Beavers Would Be Good News.”

 

Bobcat: a sight to behold!

By Tracie Hornung

Bobcat

Bobcat
Lynx rufus
Photo by Gary Kramer
Courtesy USFWS

Just as I rounded a bend riding my bike to the wildlife clinic a few years ago, a bobcat dashed across the road. It was gone in what seemed like a nanosecond, but the image of that small but powerful animal has stayed with me.

In my opinion, all cats—wild or domestic—are gorgeous, and the bobcat is no exception.

It’s the smallest wild cat in Oregon—about twice the size of a housecat—but with longer legs, a shorter tail and a more muscular body.

Bobcats are found throughout Oregon, and according to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, bobcats in western Oregon possess more distinct markings than those in the east side of the state. Their lifespan is 12-13 years.

Bobcat territories are established with scent markings, and territory sizes are generally 25-30 square miles for males and about five square miles for females.

Although In the early to mid 1900s, bobcat populations in many Midwestern and Eastern states were decimated because of the value of the cats’ fur, their populations have rebounded with the advent of laws in the 1970s that protected wild cats. Today, populations are stable in many northern states and are reviving in many others.

However, as Defenders of Wildlife states, they are still hunted and trapped for their fur throughout most of their range, and habitat destruction and the ever-expanding human population limit their ranges.

Let’s hope that our grandchildren will have the same opportunity I did of seeing these beautiful cats in the wild.

Dog saves flying squirrel

By Tracie Hornung

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel. Photo by Larry Master, courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

It’s not every day that Rowena Wildlife Clinic treats a flying squirrel—fortunately!

The little guy, dubbed Rocky during his rehabilitation, was fetched off the ground by the landowners’ dog and carried to the porch. The  squirrel was cold and so young his eyes had not yet opened. The landowners assume he fell from the nest.

Surprisingly, Rocky had no injuries, and after several weeks of basic care and lots of pampering at Rowena WIldlife Clinic he was ready for release. Some volunteers attached a nest box to a tree so that he could acclimate to the wild on his own terms. Since then he has been coming and going, and is now a fully independent and healthy adult flying squirrel!

 

Flying Squirrel Box

Flying Squirrel nest box. Photo by Tom Keffer.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, flying squirrels might more appropriately be called “gliding squirrels,” because they aren’t capable of true powered flight such as a bird or a bat. Flying squirrels glide. They have a special membrane between their front and back legs that allows them to glide through the air between trees. When a flying squirrel wants to travel to another tree without touching the ground, it launches itself from a high branch and spreads out its limbs so that the gliding membrane is exposed. It uses slight movements of the legs to steer, and the tail acts as a brake upon reaching its destination. Flying squirrels can cover more than 150 feet in a single glide!

To learn more about flying squirrels, visit the National Wildlife Federation.

Fawn hit by car can expect normal adulthood

By Tracie Hornung

Bruno  after he was rescued

Dr. Cypher and Bruno shortly after he was rescued. Jane Keeler photo.

Bruno the fawn got lucky when a caring woman named Jane rescued him moments after he’d had the worst luck of his young life: he’d been hit by a car.

Jane saw the baby deer lying in the middle of the road, unable to move. As she ran over to pick him up and move him into the grass, she saw what she assumed to be his mother and sibling watching her.

Jane called Rowena Wildlife Clinic and explained the situation with the injured fawn, including the fact that she was driving alone. But Dr. Jean Cypher told her if the fawn had a broken leg, which seemed probable, it would be fairly easy to transport him in her car.

Jane swaddled the fawn in a towel to keep him calm, put him on her lap and hoped for the best as she drove the nearly 30 miles to the clinic.  They arrived safely at the clinic but, said Jane, “It was quite challenging driving with a baby deer in my lap!”

When Dr. Cypher saw the fawn she could tell he was in shock and that he had not one, but two, broken legs. He had a left tibial fracture and a right heel fracture, rendering the Achilles tendon useless. And he’d also lost the tip of his tail.

“The surgery was a long one,” said Dr. Cypher, “done in two stages over the next few days. Initially we pinned the left leg and also tunneled some wire under the muscle and tendon of the right heel, looping it around some pins driven into the right prominence of the heel. It was a four-handed repair − my assistant Elijah had to help, and his mechanical experience was pretty useful.”

Bruno was able to stand the evening after surgery, but the right leg was painful and he tried to put his weight on the left leg.

“However, that leg made an awful grinding noise when he used it,” said Dr. Cypher, adding that he needed additional pins to keep the lower bones from rotating around the internal and medial pins.

“So I anesthetized him again a few days later, and drove pins from the outside and the front of the leg, attaching the frame to the previous pins. Once the left leg was stable, it was painful, as is usually the case if you have to drive pins through the large muscles on the outside of the leg. Luckily by then, the right leg was increasingly useful to him. He started to do short three-legged walks outside over the next three weeks.”

Halfway through Bruno's healing

This photo of Bruno and another fawn patient was taken halfway through Bruno’s healing. Dr. Jean Cypher photo.

About a month later, said Dr. Cypher, he started to act as if he was in pain again and was reluctant to walk.

“This was a sign that some of the hardware needed to be removed. An x-ray sort of indicated that all was healing − although my antiquated machine leaves many caveats! It was a terrible ordeal for me to remove the pins and wires from his right ankle. Bets, who was volunteering that day, agreed with me that it looked as if I was completely dissecting his leg to find and cut out the hardware. But amazingly, he felt better and was completely weight-bearing on that leg again within a couple of days.”

Bruno today

Bruno (foreground) today. You can see the scars on his legs but he is growing into a healthy adolescent! Dr. Cypher puts reflective collars on the fawns so that they can be found in the dark if they don’t go back to the fawn pen at night by themselves. Tracie Hornung photo.

Dr. Cypher removed the pins from the left leg over the next couple of weeks and then Bruno began his final recovery. Now he spends his days outside with other recovering fawn patients and his evenings in the fawn pen. He stands three-legged, but will use his left leg when climbing hills or running (slowly).

“I think he’ll have a normal gait in a year or so,” said Dr. Cypher.

And with Bruno’s luck, you can just bet he will.

Story of the Saw-whets has a happy ending

By Tracie Hornung

Saw-whet Owls

Photo by Tom Keffer

A local landowner, who cut down a tree containing a Northern Saw-whet Owl nest, brought in two chicks this spring to Rowena Wildlife Clinic. Although he made the mistake of chopping down a tree during nesting season, he did the right thing by searching for the contents of the nest and for the owl parents.

When he couldn’t find the parents he took the baby birds to RWC. (Since the typical clutch size is four to seven eggs, there may well have been more chicks or eggs that he did not find.) Dr. Jean Cypher put them in an incubator for the first week, and a hack box for the next two weeks as she fed and cared for them.

Then the hack box was transferred to a tree on the edge of a forest, a perfect environment for the chicks. They would be safe inside, and be able to see out as they got used to the world they would soon enter, with its varying temperatures, sights and sounds.

A volunteer fed them each a dead mouse every dusk and dawn. Every three days she changed their bedding, as they cowered in fear in the back of the box while she worked. She said they were “very docile, quiet and curious. Sometimes they would cluck at me.”

As they grew bigger they grew bolder. And it became apparent that one was female and one male; female owls are typically larger than males. During their last week in the hack box the birds started flapping their wings, lunging at the door and even hanging on it.  The volunteer said, “It was like they were wondering, ‘Is she going to open it?’”

The volunteer could tell the female was ready for release.  But she wasn’t sure the male was, and she didn’t want to open the door until she was sure they could both fly and perch safely. So instead of taking the risk of opening the door for the every-three-day bedding change, the volunteer waited five days.

On the fifth day she opened the door slightly. The owls hesitated. The volunteer said she thought to herself that they must not be ready for release yet, but she opened the door a little wider. Suddenly the female exploded out of the box, flying over her head and landing gracefully on a branch 10 feet away. For another five minutes the two birds stared at each other, one on the branch and the other still in the hack box. Then the male flew out, too, also landing successfully on the same branch. The two followed each other up to the end of the branch and back down, over and over.

For the rest of the day and the following day they perched in the tree above the hack box. On the third day the volunteer said she couldn’t see them but she heard them calling from another grove of fir trees. She continued to leave mice out for them in case they weren’t ready to do their own hunting. She did that for a week, but the young owls never took them. Dr. Cypher told her if they had been hungry – and not hunting on their own – they would have taken the mice. So it is highly probable that sister and brother Saw-whet are now out exploring the world successfully on their own.

Northern Saw-whet Owl Fast Facts:

A Northern Saw-whet is a tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes. Saw-whets are one of the most common owls in forests across northern North America (and across the U.S. in winter). They are highly nocturnal and seldom seen. Their high-pitched too-too-too call is a common evening sound in evergreen mountain forests from January through May.

For more information, visit the Cornell Lab of Orinithology website.