A Tale of Two Mallard Ducks

In early November, we received calls about two injured mallards at a pond located in Albany. The ducks had been recreationally shot with blow darts and were sadly left to suffer. Archell Banta, one of our dedicated volunteers (and a fellow waterfowl lover), was able to capture both ducks and bring them to our clinic.

Assistant Animal Care Staff volunteer Erika Seirup writes about her experience upon admittance of the mallards:

Many of the patients we receive at CWC are injured by humans on accident (such as car or window collisions). This particular case was disheartening to me because it was purposeful cruelty to wildlife.

I have been a volunteer at Chintimini Wildlife Center for 18 months and haven’t seen an intentional injury to wildlife before. I’ve seen animals that’ve been hit by cars, birds that have flown into windows, and orphans in need of care.

This was a deliberate attack on wildlife and it really surprised me.

The first mallard presented with a dart lodged deep within the left side of his body. Upon further examination we were able to determine that it was stuck in his thigh. The dart was approximately three inches long and he is very fortunate it did not go deep enough to puncture any organs.img_7882

The second mallard had been shot in the bill, which also punctured his tongue, pinning it to the roof of his mouth. Mallard ducks are considered “dabbling” ducks (rather than diving ducks) and this type of injury made it impossible for him to properly forage for food.

To eliminate stress and pain, we decided it was best to place the mallards under anesthesia before removing the darts. This way we were able to give a more thorough examination and tend to the wounds without additional stress or accidental harm.

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Both ducks recovered quickly, and after careful observation in our ICU they were able to move to an outdoor enclosure.

Outdoor housing for waterfowl includes a pool for swimming and enrichment that helps to encourage the natural behaviors they will need to survive in the wild.

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After spending only a few weeks in our care, they were released to a quiet pond where they’ll be safe from harassment and free to live their lives.

 

While we are happy to report this as a successful wildlife rehabilitation story, this unfortunately is not an isolated incident. Each year there are multiple reports of dart shootings in other areas of Oregon, and more often than not the perpetrator isn’t caught.

Animals shouldn’t be left to suffer – if you see an injured animal that you think has been illegally shot, please call your local authorities (police, animal control, wildlife rehabilitator or State Fish & Wildlife agency) as soon as possible. For a wildlife rehabilitation center near you, check out this state-by-state listing:

How to Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator

The Art of Waterproofing

Chintimini Wildlife Center clinic volunteer Alyssa Tarbox explains the process of waterproofing:

Have you ever wondered how birds stay afloat?  It occurs mainly because of the interlocking hooks and barbules on birds’ feathers – these help to provide an airtight seal allowing insulation from water and other potentially harmful elements. Additionally, their feathers become water resistant when they apply oils from their preen gland (more formally known as the Uropygial Gland), an oil gland found at the tail base possessed by a majority of birds.  Healthy birds do a pretty good job of keeping themselves water resistant and warm by the continual act of preening. But sometimes birds need a little help from wildlife professionals! If you have ever seen the infamous Dawn oil spill commercials, you are seeing part of the waterproofing process. However, much more work goes into ensuring the bird can return to life in the wild!

What happens if birds aren’t able to waterproof themselves?

Waterproofing cannot be done on a bird that is in critical or poor condition. Before the process can begin, an exam on the bird must be performed to ensure the bird is stable and able to withstand the procedure. At Chintimini Wildlife Center, waterproofing is one of the last steps before release, so it is necessary the bird passes all parts of the exam.

When a patient is ready to be waterproofed, they are first washed in warm, soapy water. The temperature must be continuously monitored to ensure the health and safety of the bird – if the water is not warm enough, the process will not be effective and the bird could quickly become chilled and go into shock.

We use a gradient of concentrations of Dawn dish soap because of its proven effectiveness; it is important to reach every nook and cranny of the bird’s feathers so they can go onto the next step!  

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Photo Credit: Sheri Cochran

In a separate rinsing area, we use a consistent, high pressure stream of warm water to remove any buildup of residue.

Thoroughly rinsing each feather is a time consuming process.

The biggest problem that can occur at this step is trying to “speed up” the process. The goal of waterproofing is to only do it once. It requires taking the time to ensure that all excess residue is completely removed; if not removed it can result in the bird drowning!

When the bird is fully waterproofed, water will run off the feathers instead of penetrating them, leaving beads of water on the bird’s feathered surface. This ensures that the feathers repel water, which allows the bird to dive, swim, and float without sinking.

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Photo Credit: Hawaii Wildlife Center

 

Once the bird is completely free from soap and residue, the clean bird is taken to dry. An area equipped with a protective net-bottomed pen and an appropriate grooming dryer ensures the bird can comfortably dry. At this point, birds will start preening their feathers back into place. Each hook and barb of the feathers will realign into their pattern which helps create a natural waterproof seal.

Once the drying process is complete, our professional Animal Care Staff will determine if the bird requires another waterproofing session or if it is ready to be back on the water!

Glue Trapped

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Photo Credit: The Humane Society of The United States

Glue traps are a common, yet inhumane tool for trapping unwanted “guests” who’ve made their homes in undesirable places. Many people choose this method because of its low cost and ease of use, however glue traps remain to be indiscriminate and trap unintended victims such as bats, birds, snakes, and even pets. Any animal attracted by the bait can become ensnared.

Guest writer and CWC Shift Leader Claudia Benfield writes about her experience with glue traps:

My neighbor called me in an emergency the other night.  They had left a garage door open and a small bird had flown in.  They called me to get it for them.  They had thought that maybe it had flown back out.  I searched again just to make sure.  When I looked up way high on top of one of their cabinets, I saw a small figure struggling.  They were having a lot of problems with rats and had put large glue traps on top of the cabinets in an effort to solve one problem and not cause another.  But this was not going to be the case after all…

My heart just sunk when I saw that a small finch had his entire body on that glue trap.

I immediately grabbed it and when I examined it, I saw that his little face was stuck on it.  I pried his face off and propped it on a stick that would keep it off until I could get him some help.  I didn’t want to pry the rest of his body off in fear that I would do more damage than good.  So off I went in a mad rush into the night, feeling and wanting so much to have a siren to give me a clear and quick path to the clinic.  And don’t you know, this was the night of the big storm that was being predicted.  When I was driving I could see it was getting worse out there and people were slowing down. That always happens doesn’t it? As I drove down the road with the finch on my lap, in a silent car with no radio on to keep the bird’s stress level down, I could feel his struggle to break free whenever I made a turn.  It made me want to rush even more and I just wanted to save him more and more.  Seeing the manner in which he was glued on the trap, I really had little hope for him.

When I finally got to the clinic and halfway parked my car, I ran in and there were three girls waiting for me from the Thursday PM shift.  I just asked them for help and they jumped right in to help.  I told them what the animal care director had told me to do and what medicine would get him off the glue.  They just took over which at this point I was very thankful for.  By this time, I felt like he was a family member that I had to save.  My heart was racing way too much with worry.  Too many invested emotions for me at this point.  I helped a little but they were just so awesome.  The medicine that can get animals off of glue traps is just a miracle in a bottle too.  We sprayed the liquid on him and he came right off.  When I saw that he was free, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

It was all so amazing.  He still looked rough and had some bruises under his wing but it seemed that he might be able to recover.  Every time that I am convinced that there is no hope for the one that I am saving, it has been the opposite.  Thankfully life always seems to make a fool out of me.  In that case, I can take that any day.  I am now hopeful that maybe my finch may just have another chance.  I am glad that I can hope for another miracle.
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Photo Credit:The Wildlife Center of Virginia

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. This is an all-too-common scenario that we as wildlife rehabilitators encounter over and over. But you can help.

What should you do if you find an animal stuck to a glue trap?

  • First, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator! If you need help finding one in your area, check out this state-by-state listing:

How To Find A Wildlife Rehabilitator

  • If you are unable to find immediate help, use caution when handling the animal and only attempt if you are comfortable with the following procedure recommended by The Humane Society:

What Should I Do If I Find An Animal Stuck To A Glue Trap?

  • Lastly, please do not purchase or use glue traps! For more humane ways of approaching wildlife control see this and this.
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Photo Credit: The Wildlife Center of Virginia

 

 

A Busy Spring at Chintimini!

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Cat caught orphaned Scrub Jay

So far this year we have admitted 571 injured or orphaned wild animals for care at our wildlife rehabilitation hospital. Two hundred and seventy-seven (48 %) of these patients came in during the month of May alone.

In May we admitted 51 different species of animals. Mammals made up 32% of our patients (88 individuals), while birds made up the remaining 68% (188 individuals). We also admitted one gopher snake. Orphaned Cottontail rabbits were the most common mammal patients (34 individuals) and mallard ducklings represented the most common avian species (57 individuals).

In the next four months, as we progress through our busiest time of year, we will take in approximately 2/3 of our total patient admissions for the year. Every year we set a new record for animal admissions (last year we reached 1,500 patients), and we expect this trend to continue through 2016. Your support makes this all possible.

“Plants” Day Camp 5/30 – Reserve Now

045Join Chintimini for “Plants” Day Camp on May 30, 2016.

In this camp, children will be learning about invasive and native plants as well as basics about plant parts. Additionally, they will discover what it takes to do a restoration project. At the end of the day, each child will plant seeds for a medicinal garden to take home. More info & register now.

Fundraisers raise over $1000 for local wildlife

Special thanks to the following folks for hosting fundraisers for CWC this past month!

♥ Downward Dog Campus  + Two Towns Cider’s Earth Day Happy Hour: $300
♥ Ava Kalmar & friends Lemonade Day 2016 at Fred Meyer, endorsed by the City of Corvallis Chamber of Commerce:  $250
♥ Girl Scouts Troop 20497 Cookie Sale: $500

These funds will help us to house, feed and rehabilitate local wildlife.