June 19, 2012

Wildlife Taxi: Two Typical Fares

Diana Miller examines a kestrel as a visitor looks into the Raptor Center's ICU.
I put about 250 miles on the wildlife taxi (volunteer wildlife transporters) yesterday and today.

First was a call to pick up a fawn — M. and I were the third leg of the relay that brought it three hundred miles from Durango. These are all volunteer wildlife transporters — no Colorado Parks and Wildlife official vehicles.

The Fawn

Fawn getting a bottle.
The backstory as it was given to me: Some rafters (on the Animas River?) found a fawn struggling in the mud by the water. When they tried to help it, they discovered that it had a broken leg.

The leg was wrapped in an elastic bandage, but the fawn herself (as we later learned) was alert. In fact, she made soft "mewp" noises during much of the remaining forty miles. Someone had given her some colostrum supplement and milk replacement — and sent the remainder along with her. But she was less than a week old, still showing her dried umbilical cord, and she was hungry.

At the rehabilitation center (a private home) she got more milk and water and was left to to rest in a quiet, carpeted shed.

We got the news this afternoon that she had gone to the vet — and it was not a broken leg at all, but a knee dislocation. The bone was re-set, and the leg was placed in a temporary cast to keep it in place. So her prospects are pretty good.

The Hawk

This morning's call came from the Raptor Center — could we go to a different southern Colorado town and pick up a red-tailed hawk that had "fallen from the nest."

OK, we could. (Insert long drive.)

The hawk was at a warehouse / operations center belonging to San Isabel Electric Association. But it was no red-tail, it was an American kestrel. That is sort of like confusing a pickup truck with a Smart Car.

The SIEA manager had it in a cardboard box, which was good. Its nest mate was flying in the same roofed-over, open-sided storage area, landing on coils of wire and old transformers leaking PCBs into pans of kitty litter. A sign on the wall said that that was the storage area for PCB-problem equipment.

The sibling seemed stronger, although not yet fully confident about this whole flying business. Nearby on a wire one of the parents (I assume) was giving the kestrel "killy killy killy" call.

So kidnapping one offspring was enough, it seemed to us. I told the manager not to worry about the other bird, that it would probably be all right.

Back at the Raptor Center, director Diana Milller lifted the kestrel from the box in front of a group of kids who were on an educational visit. "American kestrel!" shouted one. Give that girl a prize.

Diana said the bird had grease or oil on one wing and set about washing it. Other than that, it looked all right, and I hope that with a little food, rest, and some time in a flight cage, it will be ready to be released.

There's More
As I was typing this, the telephone rang. It was the local rehabber. "Our" fawn already has a roommate, as two more came in today. And another might have to be shuttled down from Lakewood. Could we be available tomorrow?

UPDATE, JUNE 20: We picked up the fawn. The relay system worked, so we had to go only twenty miles for it. It was healthy—apparently seized from some ignorant person who had found an "abandoned" baby.


PBurns said...

Good work well done and a standing ovation here. This would be a good reality series.


Chas S. Clifton said...

Patrick: Reality series? We don't have enough (any) tattoos. Or maybe M. and I could be played by Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife.

Darrell said...

One day at work during break out on the patio, a baby bird fell out of the tree overhead and landed on the pavement. It stood up, looking a bit dazed. I walked toward it, and saw that it was a small hawklike thing. It took one look at me and ran/jumped into the bush at the base of the tree. I called Colorado Fish & Wildlife and described the bird, and what happened. The nice person on the phone told me it was a kestrel, and to leave it the heck alone. They said the parents would watch over the chick until it got it wings. Sure enough, the next morning the chick was up in the tree with its siblings, flying short hops in and around the tree, and the parents were overseeing things. They were all gone by the end of the day.

Darrell said...

*its* wings

It was interesting watching the UW Hawkcam chicks grow into adolescent hawks, and one by one fledge and leave the nest. The runt of the litter stuck around a few days after its siblings left, but it finally split too.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Darrell -- you did the right thing. If the one kestrel had not already been in the box, I would probably have advised leaving it alone.

And if it really had PCB or other contamination, it was good to get it cleaned off, I suppose.

Carl Watson said...

Really I am so touched and really loved that pic of the Fawn getting feed by bottle.