Spring Has Sprung

The Wildlife Center has shifted to its Spring/Summer operating hours and is now open Monday through Friday 9:00-6:00 and weekends 9:00-4:00pm.  Sunday was  the first full day of spring and it is quite appropriate that a baby Great Horned owl became the 1000th intake of the year.  Raptor babies, especially Great Horned Owls are usually one of the first babies to make their appearance each year. This year we were several weeks into baby squirrels before the Great Horned owlets began showing up at intake. This month has kept the Center staff, veterinarians, and  volunteers very busy treating and feeding hundreds of squirrels and opossums.  The squirrels seemed to fall out of nests when strong winds blew through in March. The Center is also caring for over a hundred  little baby opossums who were kept alive by the protection of a mother's pouch, when moms were run over by vehicles.  While we are sad the moms did not make it, their heritage is carried on by these resilient little ones.  Caring volunteers not only provide these orphans food and shelter, but do so in a manner that keeps them wild so they have the best chance at survival when they are returned to the wild. Baby doves are beginning to show up at the Wildlife Center. They will soon be followed by songbirds and Killdeer. Hopefully, the squirrel and opossum babies will have eased off before the birds hit their peak. A young female bobcat was brought to the Wildlife Center who was hit by a car. She has a severe head injury.  Wildlife Center veterinarians checked the bobcat out and she was found to have an eye injury as well as several check bone fractures.  She is on medications and is [...]

Bad Hair Day

"Fish and visitors smell in three days" (Benjamin Franklin)...but so do Yellow-crowned Night Herons. The annual flood of herons has begun at the Wildlife Center.  Herons are one of the few BIG EXCEPTIONS to the “place the baby bird back in the nest or in a substitute nest and see if the parents come to feed it” rule. Herons NEVER attend to a baby that has fallen from the nest. Every year the Wildlife Center receives over one hundred of these prehistoric looking creatures. In the Houston area these birds nest at the tops of old oak or pine trees 70 feet in the air.  In other biospheres, herons don't nest so high, some even nest on the ground. Their nests are big messy affairs that sometimes fall apart. Should this happen, the fall usually injures the babies.  Once on the ground their body temperature plummets and the nestlings rapidly become hypothermic. These compromised babies are good candidates for maggots that hatch from fly eggs. A baby that could have been saved sometimes has to be euthanized because of the tissue damage done by the maggots.  It is important to keep these babies warm and get them to the Wildlife Center ASAP. Night Herons really eat at night! Seriously unusual behavior for waterbirds. During breeding season when dietary requirements are much higher they are frequently are seen during the day. They are often seen in flooded plains, suburban drainage ditches and around water detention ponds.  They exhibit strong nesting site fidelity which means they return to the exact same nest year after year. Young inexperienced birds do their best, but the nests are usually flimsy and small. Each year the nest is improved. This leads to huge [...]

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