Someone reported that an armadillo was injured in the road. Houston SPCA rescue jumped to its aid. The armadillo was found in the road covered with ants and circling. The armadillo was brought to the Wildlife Center and veterinarian exam revealed head trauma and road rash. It will be on medications for several days and then when given the okay, will be released. It will be released out in the country, away from roads and near a water source. A great big Wildlife Center thank you to the person who made the report and the Houston SPCA rescue driver, who allowed this armadillo a second chance at life. The Wildlife Center has been receiving many calls about armadillos digging up their gardens. We remind people that during the drought our well watered gardens are inviting to the armadillos who like to dig in our normally moist soil in yards and woods. The drought has pushed them into our gardens. We have several tips on our website on how to co-exist with them.
This Neotropic Cormorant was brought to the Wildlife Center by a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. The bird presented with a wing droop and was very lethargic. Veterinarian exam and x-rays showed no breaks or swelling. The cormorant was put on cage rest and was given fluids. Several days later it was on its feet and eating great. The Neotropic Cormorant is very common on the Mexican border. The Galveston area also supports a large population. This cormorant is the only one that ranges over the entire tropical American region of Western hemisphere thus having the name neotropic. It was known as the olivaceous cormorant in earlier times. The neotropic is a blackish bird with a long tail that holds its neck in a S shape. The pointed posterior edge of the gular skin is often pointed with whitish border. Their bill is long with a hook on the end. Juvenile cormorant begin brown and slowly shift to black with their adult plumage. Cormorants swim well and dive for fish from the surface. The staff and volunteers know the cormorant at the center is feeling better because it is doing a great deal of vocalizing. This consists of a low gutteral pig-like grunt. Every time they hear it everyone’s head snaps to attention thinking someone just brought in a pig. Upon leaving the water the cormorants hold wings and tail open in a “spread eagle” fashion to dry them. And while holding the wings out to dry seems like a good idea, why do so few exhibit this trait, all sea birds and water birds get their feathers wet. Some researchs believe that the "spread eagle" pose is a method of themal regulation. Vultures often [...]
We’ve seen lots of strange things in this city, especially along Westheimer and Richmond. But a recent hitchhiker seen on San Filipe takes the cake. The call to the Wildlife Center went something like this: We found this tortoise on San Filipe, can we bring it to you? Is it a turtle or a tortoise? (Volunteer is thinking, some of Texas’ tortoises are endangered – it’s probably just a Red-eared Slider) It’s a tortoise. Is it a baby? No Is it injured? No Well, we only care for sick, injured of orphaned wild animals here at the Wildlife Center, just move it to a nearby safe spot and let it go. There isn’t a safe spot - this is SAN FILIPE! Like, six lanes plus a suicide lane! OK, bring it to the Wildlife Center and we’ll see what can be done. Just put it in your car and bring it to us. You don’t understand, I have someone sitting on it to keep it from walking away and it is STILL walking away! I don’t think I can lift it. (Volunteer feels like they’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone) Can you and the person that is sitting on it lift it? It’s pretty big. Well, maybe if I fold down the seat it will fit. (Cue the theme music for the Twilight Zone) A couple of volunteers are asked to help bring the tortoise inside. It is so big that if placed in a normal sized bathtub it would take up two-thirds of the length and could not turn around. And this bad boy weighs about 45 pounds! One volunteer takes a look and says “Oh that’s an African Spurred Thigh Tortoise, it is [...]
For the last seven years, Wildlife Rehab and Education has been working with biologists Woody Woodrow with the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, Sharon Schmalz Director of the WR&E Wildlife Center and Dr. Ray Telfair a well known ornithologist and former Texas Parks and Wildlife colleague of Woody’s study the movement patterns in Yellow-crowned Night Herons. While these herons are a common sight in our ditches and neighborhoods, biologists don’t know too much about their movement patterns. They are high tree nesters and so banding them in the nest is extremely difficult. Each year WRE typically releases a considerable number of these herons. To Sharon and Woody, this seemed like an opportunity to band some birds and hopefully collect some information about the birds. With the help of Dr. Ray Telfair banding and marking began in 2003. Additional research is being conducted by Dr. Heatley from Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She is using small blood samples collected from healthy birds to determine normal electrolytes and other blood parameters in these herons. Thus when ill or injured herons are, these values will help rehabilitators, veterinarians and biologists determine appropriate treatment and to diagnose diseases or toxicoses. Before the banding began, Sharon had started to apply hacking techniques used with raptors with the herons. This allowed the birds to transition from a captive state to living without her assistance. When the birds are ready to go, the team bands them with a USFWS number specific aluminum band. In order to track observations of the birds, a nylon flag is also placed with the band above the bird’s wrist (what we think of as their knees). The bands are typically aluminum gray but the [...]
A newly hatched Mississippi Kite is a fearsome sight, despite its poufy white down. The beak leaves absolutely no doubt that this bird is a raptor. Which is a little odd since it grows up to prefer grasshoppers and cicada caught on the wing to mice and rats or rabbits. Only the smallest raptors, such as Screech Owls prefer insects and amphibians to mice and rats. The Kite doesn’t really fit the bill. The Mississippi Kite is a small to medium raptor that is about the size of a Peregrine Falcon. However, the falcon can weigh as much as three times as much. The eating habits aren’t the only slightly odd habit. Mississippi Kites migrate long distances to and from central South America in a groups of 20 – 30 individuals. They also nest near each other as a group. Mississippi Kite arrive at the nesting site as mated pairs. Many raptors don’t migrate and those that do usually don’t do so as a flock. The Mississippi Kite isn’t a well known raptor. People that see them often mistake them for other birds because the Kite’s gray coloring is so different from other more well known raptors. The head and back are a beautiful pearl gray which darkens along the sides and out the wings. The wings are unusually long (up to three feet) and narrow. The undersides of the wings are a lighter gray. The tail is long and a very dark gray or black. Juveniles have dark brown mottling or stripes and dark brown banding on the tail. This group of juveniles look much like more “traditional” raptors because of their brown markings. They have been released from the large flight cage, but [...]
The dilapidated house was being torn down to make room for new construction. If anyone had thought about what might be living under the house, they would have assumed that the ruckus had scared everyone away. Deconstruction went just fine until the workmen began removing the sub-floor. Imagine the surprise when an armadillo bounced out of the opening and scurried away. The startled workmen looked into the hole to discover a shallow dirt nest containing four baby armadillos. The babies were so young the shriveled umbilical cord was still attached! Phone calls were quickly made to WR&E – what to do? The normal advice would be to leave them in the nest to allow the mother time to relocate them – but considering the demolition, exposure to chill night temperatures and potential predators it was determined the best course of action would be to bring them to the Wildlife Center. When WR&E advises allowing the mother to retrieve her babies (or a baby bird is put back into a nest or substitute nest), we instruct the rescuer to watch for mother’s return and to not let the babies get cold to the touch. Obviously this couldn’t be done on a construction site. Armadillos are wonderfully strange creatures. Life began for these four last June or July when the female ovulated a single egg. About this same time, the normally solitary armadillos search for a mate and the single egg is fertilized. Mom and dad go their separate ways. Implantation of the embryo doesn’t usually occur until November! When it does it immediately divides twice forming four identical babies that share the same embryonic sac and placenta. The babies are usually born in March or April. [...]
Weather reeks havoc on native wildlife in the Houston area. If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it will change. This seems very true here in the Houston area the last few weeks. We have seen snow, freezing temperatures, sunshine, wind and rain. Our native wildlife as been seen trying to adjust to all these changes. Squirrels are burying acorns like there is no tomorrow and birds are flocking to backyard bird feeders, and yet babies are still being born. Obviously, these mothers didn't get the memo. Friday night another storm blew through the Houston area bringing a cold rain and strong winds. A flying squirrel nest blew down spilling three helpless little ones to the ground. A kind gentleman scooped them up and went to great lengths to keep them warm. He drove them up to the Wildlife Center on a motorcycle but those were the warmest babies that have come through the Wildlife Center doors. They have been given warm fluids to hydrate them and they are well on their way to having a second chance at life thanks to the team effort of the rescuer and the Wildlife Center volunteers. It is amazing that babies are coming through our doors, don’t the parents know it is winter? The normal first arrivals each year are Great Horned Owl babies. The parents are currently refreshing an existing nest or tree cavity in anticipation.
Over the Thanksgiving week a first year Red Shouldered Hawk flew into a window. The window shattered and the hawk was severely cut. The homeowner gently scooped the bird up and contained it. By the time it got to the Wildlife Center it was in shock. An initial exam showed a gaping hole in its neck which was deep enough slice open its esophagus. The hawk was rushed into surgery where Dr. Brenda Flores skillfully stitched up the inner wound. The external neck wound was cleaned and attended to. The day after surgery the hawk was standing and feeling feisty. He will be gavage fed for several days while his wounds heal. Miraculously its wings are in fine shape and no other injuries were found. He will spend the next several weeks in rehabilitation and it is hoped he will have an end of the year release. This year the WR&E Wildlife Center was honored with the task of rehabilitating many of these amazing creatures. The Houston area experienced a late spring and summer drought that brought many young Red Shoulder fledglings to the Wildlife Center. These birds were hydrated, fed, and flight conditioned. Thanks go to the team efforts of rescuers, caregivers and donor supporters that so many of these awesome birds of prey were given A Place to Grow A Place to Heal A Place to be Wild.
United States Fish & Wildlife brought a juvenile brown pelican to the Wildlife Rehab & Education Center Thursday November 5, 2009 for evaluation and treatment. The young pelican had been observed near a dock at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Galveston and was apparently injured. A thorough exam revealed many complications for the bird. It presented very emaciated and dehydrated. An examination revealed that it had a heavy mite infestation, a treble hook was embedded inside its mouth, and a single large hook was embedded in its neck. The initial exam also revealed an old wing fracture that had not healed properly. Pain medications, antibiotics and fluids were administered. It was treated for the mites and the hooks were removed. Wounds were treated and he was crated to rest. The brown pelican will remain at the Wildlife Center until itis stabilized and healthy again. It was determined that the old wing break made it non-releasable. But the story won't end there. It is planned to transfer the pelican to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas to live out its natural life in comfort. WR&E thanks all those who were involved in the rescuing of this magnificent bird.
OPERATION RESCUE Hundreds of orphaned and live trapped opossums and raccoons are brought to the center by the general public and animal welfare organizations each year. With neighborhood expansions, many of these youngest opossums are found on or around dead mothers in our roadways or brought to owner’s doorsteps by family pets. Raccoons often invade attics and garages to find safe nesting sites. Mistakenly, homeowners often live trap and relocate Mom only to find a litter of helpless infants days later. Our rescue program is a growing endeavor. ‘Rewarding’ is a term used to define our ongoing work in this area, but it costs resources, money, gas, and land use. Several opportunities are available for our communities to assist. Items such as gas cards or money for supplies, transport and release would be welcomed due to the numbers and distances necessary to travel to remote sites. Ultimately, having release opportunities on private or corporate land would enable the relocated wildlife to have a fresh start in natural surroundings. ‘Letter of permission’ from the landowner will be required for land use. If you can help in Operation Rescue in any way it would be greatly appreciated. In the event you are able to assist in this endeavor, please feel free to contact the wildlife center at 713-861-9453 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.