Spring is slowly coming to upstate NY, and with it the birds have started going bonkers, singing their hearts out for territories and mates! I even heard aBarred Owl yesterday in the WTS woods while the sun was still up!
March saw several different bird patients come to WTS. The first was this little female American Goldfinch. She flew right up to someone, who was perplexed at why this little bird didn't fly AWAY from them.... it was because she couldn't see! Finches are very prone to a very contagious type of conjunctivitis, and this little girl's eyes were almost completely swollen shut. But here she is after over a month of treatment on the day of her release bright eyed and ready to go! She shot out of her carrier in about a second and was so happy to be free once more!
Because of this disease and others out there, it is a good idea to regularly rinse your bird feeders 1part bleach:10 parts water, especially if you notice any birds that may seem unwell at your feeders.
The next bird patient was this male Northern Cardinal. He was found in the middle of the road and had just been hit by a car! A good Samaritan stopped and re-directed traffic so that he could pick him up and bring him to WTS. The little fellow was in shock and there was a fair bit of blood. I was worried. But amazingly enough all his injuries appeared to be more superficial than feared and he was able to be released 2 days later. Like the goldfinch, he flew out of his carrier and never looked back!
Unless there are certain special circumstances, all birds are released back where they were found. Birds form close bonds with each other and many birds form pair-bonds that last years. At this time of year especially, when mating and territory claiming are in full-swing, birds are desperate to get back outside. They will re-find their mates if released back in the same place.
I actually would have liked to have kept my eye on this cardinal for another few days, but he was so hell-bent on getting out again (even calling for his mate) that I was worried he could harm himself in his cage...as is what happened with the next patient...
This is a very sad story. The lovely Mourning Dove in the picture to the right was almost all ready to be released. He had also been hit by a car (which nearly hit his mate as well) and had lost almost all of his body feathers and had a few lacerations that needed to heal. Luckily his flight feathers had stayed in; they can take a long time to grow back and must be in place before a bird is released. He was doing great and was more and more impatient to get back outside. Just a day or two before he was set to go, I opened the cage to feed him and shooed him to the back. Just before I closed it he came flying full force towards the door and flew right past my face...and straight into a window... and died. This kind of thing happens in rehabilitation when one works with wild animals, but it is very disheartening and makes one (i.e., me!) feel very incompetent and stupid and badly!!
I wanted to include this story so everyone knows that there are plenty of down and frustrating parts about rehabilitation. That is why everyone's great support of WTS means so much to all of us here!