Today was an exciting day. We released 3 animals that came to us this winter. Many more are being held for a Spring release but these 3 were ready to go now and just couldnt wait. As 3 left, 4 more came in today as we received our first baby squirrels of the 2010 Spring season. Pictures and videos follow below.
The first release is a quiet, non-event. A Striped Skunk arrived after being trapped in a window well for over 2 weeks. It had eaten snow to stay hydrated and slept off some of its winter fat. We held him for a weeks observation and feeding but it didnt need much help. The release will be only its door being left ajar during the night so we probably will not see it leave. I am not about to wake it up (and pick it up) for a photo opportunity. This little stink-pot can leave in its own sweet time.
The second release, a Great Blue Heron, was beautiful and very special to us. He was brought to us by Dayne Weiss and his wife Marie on January 21st. The bird was so debilitated, it rode to Red Creek on Maries lap and didnt have any fight left. Great Blue Herons often do not do well in a rehabilitation environment. They suffer badly from stress, often refuse to eat and suddenly die. His injuries were extensive. His right leg sported old injuries, including a dislocated knee, in spite of which it had been thriving. The bird was in excellent weight which showed us it had a magnificent ability to survive even with a disability. Its injuries had put great pressure on the healthy leg and each joint was inflamed. His one wing also had soft tissue injuries and he had suffered frostbite to his left foot which had become infected. There was so very much wrong with this bird, but its will to survive and its willingness to eat gave us hope.
3 weeks of antibiotics, therapy and good diet helped heal the new injuries to the joints and foot. Luckily, we were able to realign the knee injury and it became strong and flexible once again. This helped assure that he would not suffer injury to the left leg again. At 4 weeks he began fighting our handling with great strength and all of the swelling was gone.
We moved him outdoors after the 3rd week and he immediately began trying to escape. After several days of observation and making sure the swelling didnt return, he was set to be released. Although he had cooperated, the weather did not and 2 now storms prevented his departure. Today was the first window of good weather and our heron was released. His flight was spectacular although we only filmed the first part. He flew high until he disappeared over the horizon.
The 3rd release was an easy one. An American Kestrel had arrived Feb 14th with a mild concussion from flying into a gate. Its recovery was quick and without complications. Here is its release from 2 different camera views. It circled Red Creek several times before disappearing.
As 3 animals left, 4 more arrived. We received our first baby squirrels of 2010. They are newborns, only weigh 16 grams each and are being fed every 2 hours. Our incubators are running strong and probably will remain on now through September. Baby Season has begun!