Baby Season Is Upon Us!

A newborn cottontail

The new season started early this year.  Baby bunnies were arriving.  Now the baby birds arrive for our volunteer to rescue and rehab. From now until the end of summer will be the busiest time for our volunteers.  We also had our fund raiser, The Easter Basket Bonanza this past Sunday.  We make Easter Baskets and sell them at The Epiphany Church Methodist each year.  The members of the church also buy baskets to donate to the Child Crisis Center.  The baskets this year were wonderful, each one with a unique theme and filled with stuffed animals and toys.  We also encourage people at this time of year to “Get Stuffed!”.  Rather than buying live chicks and ducklings for the Season, we ask that they gift stuffed toys instead.  A live baby chick or duckling makes a BAD gift.  They grow up quickly and cannot be released, since they are too tame and cannot fend for themselves on a lake.  A baby duckling will never be “adopted” by another duck!

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Pigeon Hero – Cher Ami

I recently returned from a brief vacation and while there I noted that there were a great many pigeons, pigeons in parks, pigeons on beaches, pigeons scavenging on terraces, pigeons pecking on patios. Some were even canny enough to hang out near cafes and soar in to gobble a leftover muffin or pastry!   The tourists were trying to ignore them, there were signs on beach terraces…Do Not feed pigeons…and the resident population was not particularly bothered by the birds. I have heard pigeons referred to as flying rats, and that really hurts.  Pesty, perhaps, but ratty…never! The pigeon is technically a rock dove and there is at least one very famous pigeon, a bird that saved 200 American lives during World War 1.  That pigeon’s name was Cher Ami.  Cher Ami was a Black Check cock (male) carrier pigeon.  He was one of many owned by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France.  The birds were used to carry messages, but Cher Ami did more than that.  He Helped to save the lives of 200 men of the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of Argannoe in October, 1918.  In his last mission Cher Ami delivered the life saving message, despite having been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye and having one leg dangling by a tendon.  The tiny message capsule was still on his dangling leg.  The bird was awarded in France the Croix de Guerre for heroic service.  His Army buddies fashioned a tiny wooden leg for him.  On June 15, 2008 National Pigeon Day was celebrated in New York.  The 77th Division was from New York. If you visit the Smithsonian Institute, look for Cher Ami.  And if you are ever tempted to denigrate a pigeon, remember the men of The Lost Battalion.

for more information about Cher Ami visit amhistory.si.edu

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping?

Hi, Yesterday was our EVW Christmas Basket Luncheon. A great success. Old and new volunteers attended and the kids were enthralled with Lisa’s critters and Barb’s two big tortoises. The baskets, exquisite creations by Darlene, are being delivered today by our delivery elves. The baskets go to our professional supporters, like the veterinarians who are so kind to us throughout the year. I wanted to suggest that this year many people are using not for profit donations as a way to give a gift…a gift for those who have everything! You can make a gift a charity in the name of someone. What a wonderful idea, since it really gives TWO gifts, one to the person who receives the gift notification and the other to the charity. If you visit our website you will see a place to give a donation to East Valley Wildlife…if you think that one of your friends or loved ones would like to know that a gift has been given in their name to a wildlife rescue group. There are other wonderful charities out there who need help also. A site that you might want to visit for your holiday shopping is the animal rescue site. They have an extraordinary collection of gifts for everyone…many of them with animal themes. One of my favorites are the kittie slipper socks. And all are at bargain prices with free shipping… if you order a certain amount. A grand way to let your fingers do the shopping this holiday season. I will be posting some pics soon!

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Bunny and Squirrel Rescue Basics – a Brief How To…

This is part of the series that started with Doves 101.  In this post we share the truths and myths of bunny rescue.

Contrary to popular belief, touching a baby bunny will not make the parents reject it.  Stress usually will drive the mother off when curious people poke around the nest site too often.  If you find a nest of baby cottontails, do not kidnap them just because you don’t see the mother around.  The mother cottontail only comes to the nest twice a day to feed the babies (early in the morning and again at disk).  If you want to find out if the mother is still coming to the nest site, place two crossed strings over the nest, then return later to see if the stings were disturbed.  If the strings remain in tact, then the mother has not returned and the babies should be rescued.

There are two types of wild rabbit in the Phoenix area:  jackrabbits (which are actually hares) and cottontails.  Jackrabbits are born with their eyes open, fully furred and able to run.  Cottontails are born naked, blind and helpless.

Never force food or water down a bunny or squirrel’s throat, especially if the animal is cold or dehydrated.  It is easy to aspirate an animal if fluid gets into the lungs.  The wrong food can cause bloating, illness and death.  Never use sugar or Karo syrup which can cause bacterial growth.  An experienced rehabber will provide the animal with specialized food and fluids based on the species and requirements.  Never feed any small wild mammal cow’s milk!  or human baby formula!

Each Spring East Valley Wildlife has a special program, called Get Stuffed!  We encourage people to fill their Easter baskets with stuffed toys…not with live animals.  That baby bunny that is so cute in the pet store will require many years of proper diet, vet care and housing.  It is not a toy and can never be released into the wild.  Releasing a tame pet is  a death sentence to the animal.  The et bunny does not have the skills to survive on its own and will not be accepted by wild animals of its own species.

If you find an injured bunny contact East Valley Wildlife.  We have knowledgeable volunteers who can help.  Check out our website for more information about bunnies and squirrel rescue.

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If You Love It…Let It Go

Often the public wants to help out by raising the baby bird they have rescued.  As tempting as this might be, an orphaned bird’s best chances of survival are with a rehabilitator.  A rehabilitator has been trained to provide the appropriate diet (at all stages of the bird’s development) and the proper care and housing. There are also legal considerations to raising wildlife – most wild birds are protected species, which means that a person is required to have a permit to keep, raise and rehabilitate the bird. The main pitfalls of trying to raise a baby wild bird (or an injured bird) are trying to do it without the proper training.  Injured birds require even more intensive care and certain species, like hummingbirds, need constant care and a highly specialized diet. The five major aspects of wildlife rehabilitation are Diet, Housing, Sunlight, Imprinting and Release.

In another posting we will cover in detail each of these five requirements.  Remember, it is never a good idea to try to raise any wild animal without the proper training and one of the main reasons for not keeping and raising a wild bird is imprinting.  A tame bird that is released into the wild will not survive.  It does not have the necessary skills to fend for itself.  A trained rehabilitator offers the best opportunity for a bird’s future survival in the wild.

If you want to learn how to raise baby birds, consider becoming an East Valley Wildlife volunteer.  We will be happy to teach you.  Visit our website for more information, baby bird identification and articles.

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Birds of a Feather…Often Have Problems

Captive birds incur damage when tail and wing feathers continually brush against the sides of wire caging or the wall of too-small enclosures. A bird’s survival can depend on the condition of its feathers. Broken feathers with ragged edges will impair the ability to survive when the bird is released. Birds in rehab need an environment that is comfortable, offers enough space with several different branch sizes, plus places to hide. (Yes, birds like privacy also!) A balanced diet that closely matches the bird’s natural one is most important for proper feather development. If a bird with damaged feathers is released, he likely will need to be rescued again. Damaged feathers diminish his ability to fend for himself in the wild and escape from predators. Good feathering is necessary for flight, for insulation and for waterproofing. Some feathering problems that we see on rescued birds include: White feathering – feathers that are unnaturally white in areas where they would normally have color. This may be due to a genetic albinism. However, it is more likely that white feathers are a result of a nutritional deficiency. White feathers are not as strong as “normal” ones and the shafts can easily break. Stress Marks – feathers that have a definite mark across one area indicate the extreme stress of a nutritional deficiency has occurred at a certain point in the feather development. The feathers across one area of the tail, wings or body may have a serrated appearance due to stress. Lack of waterproofing is another problem that occurs in captive birds – this may be due to nutritional problems or an injury the prevents the bird from normal preening.
This article appeared in Bird Tracks 2010 edition and was written by Nancy.

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Grant Opportunity..Red Rover & AKC

As I have mentioned before in this blog, as a group,concerned about wildlife, we also have a heart for all “critters”. When I find information about animal welfare grant opportunities I post the details on our site. There are two opportunities this month! They both relate to victims of domestic violence and their pets. The goal of the grant funding will be to allow not for profit agencies to keep the victims of domestic violence together with their pets. The first grant opportunity is from the American Kennel Club Humane Fund. The maximum grant to any one not for profit is $1,000 for this program. There are four rounds of funding deadlines November 15, 2013; February 15, 2014; May 15, 2014 and August 15, 2014. You must have your application in time to meet a chosen deadline. You will need to read carefully the further details to make sure that your not for profit meets the grant guideline. The second group offering a grant for a similar purpose is Red Rover and that grant will be a maximum of $3,000 to any one agency. Again, read the details of the grant application and guidelines carefully. The purpose of the grant is to keep families and pets together in situations of domestic violence. One example that I thought of…there is a domestic violence shelter and they need to build an enclosure for pets of families to use as a secure play area, or perhaps to purchase doggie kennels for the pets. That might fall into the range of an acceptable expenditure for grant monies. I have not read the details of the grant application. Do a search for both groups, the Red Rover and the American Kennel Club Humane Fund…their websites will give more information…and Good Luck with your grant application!

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Dove Rescue 101 – If The Bird Is Injured

This is the second in the series of Dove Rescue 101.  Read the prior Dove 101 posts for the beginning of the series.

If you find an injured dove or pigeon (and the very first thing is to make sure it is a dove or pigeon by using the identification page on our website)  you should take immediate steps to keep the bird out of further danger and to keep it quiet and warm. I have had success in capturing an injured bird by placing a large piece of sheet over the bird and then collecting the bird into the sheet.  It is often difficult to catch a bird with your hands, even when the bird is injured.  Remember, that by chasing the bird and grabbing at it, you can cause further injury and stress. If the bird has been caught by a cat, it needs to go to a rehabber immediately.  The bacteria from a cat’s fangs and claws are fatal to a bird.  The bird will need appropriate antibiotics (never use antibiotics meant for humans!) Do not attempt to apply antiseptic to the skin…a bird’s feathering and skin are too fragile for “human” antiseptics.   If you see that a wing has been damaged, here again the bird must be brought to a qualified rehabber.  In some cases the wing can be mended if the damage is not too severe.  A priority  is to keep the bird quiet and warm. Do not allow children to handle the bird, it will cause further shock.   You can keep the bird quiet and warm by placing it in a small shoebox, with holes punctured at the top for air.  Place a small piece of towel or paper towels so that the bird does not slip around in the box during transport.  Do not try to squirt water onto or into the bird. If the bird is alert, you can offer a few drops of water (from an eye dropper) along the side of the bill.  Do not attempt to feed the injured bird.  When you transport the bird, do not place any water into the box…it will only tip over and the bird will become wet and chilled.  The faster you can get the injured bird to a qualified rehabber, the better the chances are that it will survive.  Remember to call ahead to the rehabber.  Never leave a rescued bird “on the doorstep with a note”!  The chances are that a predator or ants will get to the unprotected bird.  If the bird is in a box or cage, the chances that it will dehydrate if left alone are very high. Call the rehabber to make specific arrangements for the rescued bird.  Leaving a message on an answer machine is not enough!  And,,,lastly, we thank you for helping our wildlife!  The next in our series..Temporary Care for a Rescued Bird.

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Banfield Trust Grant Opportunity

The great folks at Banfield are offering another grant opportunity.  It is not for wildlife, but as I often mention…we love all animals!  The Banfield Charitable Trust is based in Portland, Oregon.  They are offering grants in amounts ranging from $500 to $10,000.  These grants are not for individuals, they are for not for profit registered 501(c) organizations.  The deadline is October 31.  To qualify, the not for profit organization should have an innovative program that offers a direct solution for helping people to avoid surrender of their companion animals.  The qualified organizations would be involved in work with companion pets, companion horse feeding programs and hospice patient/pet support.  The idea is to keep people with their pets through difficult times, including some kind of disaster situation.  Read more about how a group might qualify for a grant by going to the Banfield site  www.banfieldcharitabletrust.org and reading the RFP which is the Request For Proposal.  As with all grant awards there is a very specific way to apply for the funding.  It usually means that the organization complete the applicationform,  and offer supporting documents, one of which might be the manner in which the group intends to utilize the funds.  Good luck with your applications!

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Dove Rescue 101-finding a baby dove on the ground

As promised, here is the first installment of our new blog series.  This one is titled Dove Rescue 101.  Are you ready?  Here goes!

Dove Rescue 101 – Finding a Baby Dove On the Ground

Doves are one of the easiest birds to re-nest when a baby has fallen.  Doves are devoted parents and will often try to sit on and care for their offspring ON THE GROUND!  Of course, the ground  is not a suitable place to raise a baby dove.  First, the baby will surely get eaten by predators, including ants (see our previous blog about ants as predators), if it stays out of the nest.  Often windstorms here in Arizona will cause dove nest (which are rather fragile) to be blown to bits! Doves are great parents, but the parents (for their own safety and survival) return to a tree as soon as it starts to get dark, so the baby dove would be left unprotected at night.  If you find a baby dove or two (they often come in pairs, so if you find only one baby…look for the other) on the ground, here is the immediate action to take.  First, is the baby bird warm, alert, uninjured?  Hold the bird in the palm of our hand.  If it feels cool or cold, get it onto a heat source quickly.  A heat source can be ideally a heating pad (on low setting).  If you do not have a heating pad…fill a plastic water bottle, orange juice container, milk jug, etc. with hot water (not boiling) from the faucet.  Put the cap onto the container and place it next to the bird.  Use a small box, like a shoe box to contain the bird and the water jug. Put the box in a quiet place.  Do not allow children to handle the bird.   If the bird perks up after about 15 minutes and has no other problems/injuries, then the baby is ready to be re-nested. Our next installment of Dove Rescue 101 will be…If the Bird Is Injured.Nestling Dove

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