So we have had crap loads of snow this week. Yes I could have said that delicately, but I’m not in the mood and it IS a ‘crap load’ – the total is a vulgar number - some 20 inches of maddening ground cover I venture no one welcomes. Usually when my birthday lands on April 25th there are tiny little sprigs of Dutchman’s Breeches (a native orchid that shows itself for a few weeks in early spring) peeking through the ground, but seeing as they are under CRAPLOADS of snow I will not be seeing them for a goodly while. So yes lots of snow very late in the year. Besides making me somewhat moody, this unusual weather occurrence has caused issues for the local wildlife also.
I have a little lady Robin who seems to be in dire straits. She meets me every morning when I attend my feeders and I mean meets me – at the front door, two feet away. She comes from under the protected place between an unreasonably large snow drift and the edge created by the last board of house siding and the foundation. She meets me by hopping out from under her hidey-hole which makes me I think she is too weak to fly.
Her predicament consumed my attention over the weekend despite the nonsensical blizzard we had or maybe because of it. At any rate, in between episodes brushing off feeders and shoveling until my arms felt like they had grown 4 inches and were dragging on the floor behind me like some kind of a disengaged slinky, I considered what I could do to make her more comfortable since she wouldn’t quite let me get hands on her. I was running low on bird seed and grit (very important during the winter months – and apparently APRIL this year!) so while the wind and snows were obliterating the neighborhood, I donned my backpack and walking poles, then slogged my way to the store to resupply my feed bucket with some Robin goodies like blueberries, raisins and mealworms.
But they did not have meal worms so upon my return, I minced some salmon trimmings, which I keep on hand for Crow and family, and put them out with the fruit. Robin hardly moved for the first day and a few feathers blew off her breast as she sat on her pile of seeds and fruit, eating every once and a while – so sad, so silent. I would go out and brush off the snow from her pile of food. She seldom moved. It just didn’t look like there would be a good outcome from this spring blizzard, not for some.
Then, slowly, she started showing signs of strengthening. She moved about more. Robin began to walk a short distance away when I replaced food and water. And this morning after filling feeders, I came back in the house and while I drank a cup of coffee I heard a familiar chirp. Then another. I looked out the door and there sat Lady Robin, repeating a single note. Not her usual spring song, but beautiful no the less.
We never know how the little things we do throughout the day, though they may be inconvenient, can have a big impact on someone. Celebrate Earth Day by helping out the local wildlife during this difficult spring.
This Blog was posted several years ago but it is a good reminder.
This is a busy time of year for wildlife rehabilitation center across the nation because of the number of babies of various species on the ground. Another factor in the increase is the well meaning Humans who find little ones ‘abandoned’ by mom but who are not truly left parentless, merely hidden from unwanted eyes.
I have a friend at a local wildlife center who remarked how frustrating it is to have someone bring in a fawn they found laying in the tall grass without a mama around. They had watched for a while but no one came to claim the baby so they thought it had been abandoned. Baby also didn’t get up when they approached so the people thought it must be injured and brought it in. Now my friend Jack is a real sweet guy and has the kind of patience that teeters on the ridiculous but he gets a sigh in his voice when he once again has to explain that mom left him in a particular spot so baby would be safe, she knows where he is, told him not to move until she came back and probably watched the whole event from the brush. And mama certainly isn’t going to show a human where she hid her baby by walking up to him when there was danger in the area. And now, sadly, baby is abandoned.
Of course, there was no malice intended. Many years ago I was one of these well intentioned do-gooders and received the same lecture from a rehabilitator who did not have as much patience as Jack, which turned me into a quivering mass of tears all the way home. It did leave a lasting impression though. (I learned to keep my hands off until I was very sure of abandonment.)
Rehabilitation centers also get a large number of fledglings that have fallen out of nests. What about that Jack?
Well, it seems the safest place for a fledgling is OUT of the nest. Nest are practically fast food for predators, a convenient package of helpless prey and easy to find because of the smell and the frequency of the parents’ visits.
There are times when we do need to step in if a life is to be saved, but more times than not we need to leave babies alone. And there are a number of things we can do to lessen the number of true abandonments.
Keep your cat indoors for the months of May and June to lessen the predator numbers. Do not trap (or live trap) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks etc. during these months because many have nests of babies somewhere and even if a person ‘does the right thing’ by using relocation, they have condemned the babies to starvation or hypothermia even if a predator does not find them. If fledglings end up on the lawn, take pup for a walk instead of using the yard. Babies don’t really hang around very long- they’re usually all about moving for safety reasons so will probably be gone in the time it takes to go for a nice walk.
It’s good to lend a helping hand and if you are certain a baby has been left without a parent it is without question the right thing to do. Jack just asks that we just make sure the hand is needed.