Jean's baby squirrels, too young to be without Mom
It's been raining baby squirrels at my house in the Green Valley neighborhood of Greensboro: four in the past month, all of which I gratefully turned over to the care of wildlife rehabbers.
All of the babies came right up to me, as if asking for help. Baby #3 even plopped herself right down on my shoe. The morning after I turned her over to PWR, I heard baby squirrel distress calls and knew right away (being a rescuer of vast experience by this time) that this was most likely the sibling to #3. Unfortunately, the cries were coming from high in the tree.The nest was at the very tip-top of a mature beech. Then quiet all day until late afternoon, when I again heard the crying.
I was on the phone talking to Melissa about acorns when I happened to see that the squirrel in question had managed to climb down to within 25 feet or so of the ground. Melissa said she would come right over and that I should stand in the yard and see if it would come to me. However, this little girl was much shyer than her sister; she saw me and scooted round to the other side of the tree and right back up to higher ground. When Melissa arrived, with the sister squirrel in tow, we stood in the yard for awhile, hoping #4 would see her sister and come on down, but no such luck. She traveled higher, then came back down partway, finding a warm sunbeam on a large horizontal branch to rest on. It was late in the day, temperatures were dropping, and we feared the baby would not survive another night without warmth and nourishment. We kept her in sight, and finally took ourselves out of sight, leaving sister on the ground in her carrier.
At some point, sister must have been getting hungry, because she began crying, and then so did our tree-bound baby. She roused from her rest and began crawling along the branch, first toward the tree trunk, then back out toward the end of the branch, back and forth, back and forth. Eventually her constant crying attracted the attention of an adult squirrel in a nearby tree. We watched with trepidation as it approached. The adult ran up and pounced on the infant, which tried to flee and immediately lost its balance and plummeted to the ground, where it was captured using my fish pond net. Hurray!! Happy ending! Melissa gave her a sip of sugar water and then reunited her with her sister, who immediately wanted to play. Both of them have recovered and are thriving in the care of PWR.
This painted turtle came in for care. He may have been hit by a car or mower. He caught a lucky break to be sure as only the carapace was broken!
When seeing turtles crossing the road, if it is safe for you to do so, move them to the other side in the direction they are going. Our Box turtles are in trouble so please do not take them home. They need to stay wild to reproduce. Learn more about box turtles and how you can help.
When we got back from walking in the Human Race on March 26th, Melissa checked the PWR Voice Mail and a man had called that said he'd found a baby squirrel at the bottom of his tree, had put it in a box with towels and was keeping it warm. So, we met him to pick it up. When he put it in Melissa's hands, she thought it was dead, it was extremely cold, not moving and we could not tell if it was breathing. Unfortunately, the unknowing man had kept it outside in the cold in the box with a small towel for several hours and the temperature was in the forties. We took it, mentioning that it should have been inside and on a heating pad, but said we'd do what we could and left.
While she drove home, I held him in a towel under the van's heater and massaged him to get his circulation going and to get him warmed up. When we got back, he still was barely moving, but seemed to be warming a bit. When warm, she gave him sub-Q fluids and put him with two smaller babies she already had and he just grabbed one in each arm (for warmth and comfort) and fell asleep. So cute and cool to see! So we had done all we could do for the moment.
Well, Miracle as we call him got over his almost frozen condition, began to gain weight, and ate everything in sight. He's been outside for several weeks now in a prerelease cage and still eating everything he can get his hands on. Miracle is extremely active and curious.
This is my first amazing rescue story. Miracle will always have a special place in my heart and you can bet I'll be there for his eventual release.
Rose and the Joey's. Can you see the feet and tails?
April 3,2011, Rose and the babies are moved to a new outdoor cage to begin her adjustment back into the wild. She will be progressively moved into larger cages until we feel she has recovered enough to be released. After taking care of her for so many weeks, I miss her already. Rose is a very good mom and did her best to protect the little ones in her pouch. We developed a good working relationship; I cleaned her cage and fed her and in exchange she did not bite me although I have no doubt she would have if I had become a threat to the babies. Kim Santos will be taking over her care and keeping us updated.
Rose and her 16 gm babies. Can you see baby tails in her pouch?
I see four tails! If you have been following the story of Rose, the mother opossum in our care, she went in for a check today, she is not walking around as soon as we had hoped. She was seen by Dr. Bencuya at Skeet Club Veterinary Hospital in High Point and assisted by Katie Gibbs. We are relieved to hear that although Rose may not ever 100% after her encounter with the dog, he is hopeful she will be releasable. We hope to move her to an outdoor cage in a few days.
Dr. Bencuya getting ready to look at Rose. Just kidding!
March 21, Sue took in two more baby squirrels this week from out of town. Helen and I took in 4 baby squirrels today, the last coming in about 9 pm. Two of them have serious injuries to their legs from falling out of trees. When they fall from the nest they may hit limbs before reaching the ground and often land on their noses. Although it may look bad, the scratches and nose bleeds heal well. It always surprises me how many are found without injuries!
Well the baby squirrels we have been expecting for a month now are finally trickling in. They are older babies and fewer than in most years, possibly due to lack of acorns this past fall.
Today we got the first calls. Sue picked up three 5 week old babies in Thomasville that were found in a house wall. Two of the siblings weighing a nice 100 grams and the third from the same litter only 36 grams and very small but eating well.
Not ten minutes after the first call a second one came in from a nice family finding another 5 week old baby in their yard under a nest, next to the road. The mother squirrel had been hit and is often the case, being hungry and looking for food with eyes closed, the baby fell from the nest.
Hoping the siblings would still be in the nest we enlisted the help of an awesome big hearted man from Asheboro, Robin D. Sands, owner of Sands Tree Service. I was hoping to get pictures of Robin climbing the tree but by the time PWR Night Rider I and Night Rider III (code names of our nighttime transport volunteers) arrived Robin had not only driven in from Asheboro but scaled the tree and inspected the nest finding it empty. Oh well, we tried, made some new friends and saved the one baby off the road who will join the other three tomorrow in Sue Fields expert care. Good Days Catch, thanks everyone!
This little Field Sparrow came to us back in November. A cat had caught the bird and damaged his tail feathers. The bird was quiet and unable to fly for several weeks. After treatment with antibiotics and rest it was later placed in an outdoor flight cage for several weeks to regain muscle strength. Today we caught the bird and placed it in a carrier in order to video the release. The sparrow was difficult to catch letting us know it was ready to go. When the box was opened he flew to the closest tree to acclimate then flew further away. Great job everyone!
Someone found her standing beside the road and thought it unusual that they were able to pick up this unique creature. Assuming it needed help, they dropped the bird off at Southwoods Veterinary and our friends there called to say they had something unusual and indeed they did! The hospital staff had done a quick internet search and thought they had a Virginia Rail with possible head trauma.
Talk about love at first sight, what a beauty and having never met a Virginia Rail, I thought it was a good call, and it was very close for a quick identification. I felt like a first time parent of a newborn. What now, can I touch it, what do I feed it, where should we put it? More research and phone calls to our friends with the Piedmont Bird Club led us to the specific identification of Sora Rail and information concerning her habits and needs.
In the first few weeks Miss Sora thrilled us with her docile ways, posing as though she were modeling for an Audubon drawing. She stood so still and quiet she seemed unreal, especially those green legs someone said reminded them of the green toy army men they once played with. Miss Sora had no apparent injuries so the working diagnosis was head injury and the treatment was time. She would require tube feeding until able to eat on her own.
We made a variety of foods available that she should like and devised a land/water shelter environment, complete with tall swamp grasses, mud and a shelter. We encouraged her natural behavior to hide in the grasses, and over a period of time she did hide from us and at last she began to eat. But what was she eating? Louise Brown brought her small fresh fish that never disappeared and we never saw her picking through the mud or eating the insects provided but she was holding her weight and becoming harder to hand feed.
We began to discuss a release, and one afternoon devised a method of sitting her cage, top only, in a grassy wetland area and from a distance watched to see if she would filter through the smooth, rich detritus for food and attempt to acclimate to the area. After watching much of the afternoon, we determined she was not ready and took her home. Over the next couple of weeks she became more secretive and anxious and we knew she was ready, but by this time it was too late in the season, and consensus with other bird authorities was that she had missed migration and would need a ride to the coast.
After numerous phone calls and emails a plan emerged and Sue and I drove to Nashville, N.C. where we met Elizabeth Hanrahan, a respected avian rehabilitator half way for an exchange. Elizabeth took over from there, and a few weeks later I received an email that Elizabeth had released Miss Sora at the coast and she flew off like a champ.
Louise Brown of PWR and PBC adds that like other rails, Soras are secretive birds who spend most of their time in wet places with grasses and camouflaging vegetation, so they are difficult to see at best. One was photographed in a parking lot in Greensboro in 2005, and another in the spring of 2007 in a marshy area near Greensboro. http://piedmontbirdclub.org/sorarail.htm
There are only a few records of Soras in Guilford County, N.C. - in both 1974 and 1986 a dead specimen was found, and in 1969 someone reported that they had heard one during the Spring Count. These records were maintained by Herb Hendrickson and compiled by George Wheaton.
The Sora is a small wetland bird, (8" to 10" long), the Sora is a member of the sub-order Rallidae, which includes other rails, coots and gallinules. They breed in the upper Midwest - most heavily in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and in the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho and Rocky Mountain states of the US. They winter in the southern and coastal edges of the U.S., Mexico and Central America, and the northern countries of South America. In the U.S., they winter all along the west coast, Gulf coast and southern east coast. So while they do pass through our region (Piedmont of N.C.) they don't typically spend any time here.
I found her next to her mother and a few sibling in the middle of 421 last year. Happy Tails Veterinary Emergency Clinic removed the rest of the sibling from the dying mother and treated Tiana for minor wounds. Four of the babies were saved and later released. I named her Tiana because she survived by standing still while heavy traffic including several semi trucks drove over her straddling her. They could not have possibly seen her 3" body in the dark but I could, and I watched her stare at them coming and cry for her mother over on the side of the road. Her bravery reminded me of the photo of the single man standing down tankers at Tiananmen Square. Isn't she pretty? What a dreadful, wonderful night that was and how beautiful she turned out, well worth the work, stress and lack of sleep!