Posted by: Wild Instincts | January 12, 2014

Weathered Time

Wow. How did a couple months fly by since the last blog post? That’s a rhetorical question. We have a pretty good idea how.

The last of our interns leave the beginning of Nov. That means it’s just the two of us doing it all from Nov to April when the new interns start. We have a handful of volunteers we couldn’t  live without that help with projects and such, but every day, day in and day out, it’s the two of us.

Two of us that have been doing wildlife rehab in Northern Wisconsin for decades. We know the general patterns of what to expect and when to expect it. Of course, that is always dotted with the unexpected; the emergencies no one can plan for. But it seems like this winter is taking not only us by surprise, but the whole country!

In a usual winter we may have to keep two to three patients over the winter until spring to release them. In Nov, Dec or Jan we may have half a dozen patients in house at one time. Right now, today, Jan 12, 2014, we have 35!!! That’s right, almost three dozen instead of just three. Whoa. Almost half of them are turtle hatchlings that will be staying with us until ice is out and water is warm. The half dozen bats will stay with us until the insects have returned. The raccoons will stay until the snow is gone.

The 2013-2014 weather pattern is to blame for this. We had such a cool summer, turtles didn’t hatch until fall. Some people grabbed turtle hatchlings and tried to sell them. They got caught and the turtles came to us. Other people kept them as pets for awhile and then got tired and brought them in. This is definitely the year of the turtle.

The bats also had a rough fall with many choosing poor hibernation places like the lobby of a rural post office, only to be disturbed.

Then fall turned into to a brutally cold winter. Patients we would normally have outside had to be moved inside to be protected from the cold. Generally, we have interns to help with cleaning, etc when we have so many inside patients. We don’t now so cleaning and feeding is taking up a lot more time. Not only because of the increased patient load, but because of the increase work due to the brutal cold.

Because our philosophy is the animals always come first, that means the extra time we need to care for the animals is going to come from keeping up with our social media.

During the rehab season, we contribute to a weekly paper column. We share stories about our patients and helpful ideas about how to better get along with our wild neighbors. In the slower season, we contribute just once per month.  This past week we shared the story of a goldfinch that was admitted after it was found stuck to a metal bird feeder support pole. Apparently it had visited the bird bath before perching on the metal pole which resulted in its feet being frozen to the pole. No one knows how long it was hanging there stuck.

Our column cautioned people who choose to provide bird baths in this weather, to do so with caution and take the extra steps to cover any metal in their yard or area. We received this e-mail shortly after:

“Thanks for the article in the paper regarding wet birds & cold temps. A friend had told of obtaining a warmed bird bath they were going to use to assure birds could get a drink in these cold days. I saw your article, told them about the possible problem. He replied had noted a bird that didn’t fly away when he walked past it, then read my email. That bird was apparently okay, but the bird bat got emptied until all  metal surfaces could be covered. You save more lives than you know…”

We will try to be a little better about keeping up with our social media responsibilities. We know, though, you will understand if we have to temporarily cut back because if  you follow us, then you put the animals first, too.


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