2022 Fall/Winter Newsletter | Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
A Heart Filled End to Baby Season
For those in wildlife rehabilitation, fall is a very special time of year. Our staff and volunteers, who have been working tirelessly to care for hundreds of wildlife orphans from March through September, finally get to watch their hard work pay off with each release of newly independent juveniles heading back to their homes in the wild.
Fall also brings with it a deep sense of appreciation. Each animal that comes into care brings with it an entire team of people that work together to get it back to the wild. From the original finder who gets the animal into care, our amazing donors who provide food and monetary donations that make our work possible, our volunteers and interns who donate their time to help provide supportive care and our staff who manage everything in between. Wildlife Rehabilitation is truly a community effort.
As we look forward to the quieter months ahead, our team is already getting to work preparing for next year. Training new volunteers, creating new and exciting enrichment, preparing enclosures for another year, and developing new ways to educate our community on the importance of co-existing with wildlife are just some of the projects we are looking forward to accomplishing this winter with your support.
With the end of another successful baby season, we hope that you will consider donating so that we may continue our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife. The timing for our annual Year End Appeal will be within the first half of November, which is the perfect time to think about thanks and giving.
Acorns are a natural food source for many of Sonoma County's wildlife species and therefore make a great addition to the diets we provide our patients. Since many of the species we care for thrive in oak woodland habitats and spend their days foraging the forest floor for these special nuts, we want to ensure that we can cache as many away as possible this fall while they are still readily available. The four bear cubs currently in care are making this quite the challenge as they have already consumed nearly 200 pounds of this years donated acorns!
In order to fulfill this need, we have a special challenge for our supporters! Anyone who donates acorns between now and November 30th will be entered into a raffle for two free tickets to our Saturday Public Tours.
We will select 5 winners in total and will contact them directly once the challenge ends.
If you have acorns in your yard and are able to collect and donate them, please drop them off at 403 Mecham Rd. in Petaluma. Donations can be dropped off from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
Meet Our New Intern Coordinator, Taylor Thomas!
I am ecstatic to step into the role of intern coordinator here at SCWR! I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism, with a minor in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. In the City, it is easy to see the effects humans have on our natural world, and how wildlife is adapting to live in densely populated areas. This roused my passion for conservation and the importance of maintaining environmental balance. Working here is rewarding for the body and soul, as we can see the life-changing effects our care has on individual and larger ecological scales. SCWR’s influence on the community is significant, as we prioritize educational outreach in the many aspects of wildlife protection. Moving forward, I hope to contribute to our internship program by ensuring that our interns receive just as much from the organization as work put into it.
Wildlife rehabilitation is gratifying in many ways; from rescues, feeding, treatments, to release, interns work closely with animal care staff to ensure all animals are getting the care required. The many aspects of our organization allow interns to explore areas that they are passionate about and work diligently in other areas equally important to operating a wildlife rescue, allowing for a well-rounded experience. We are constantly learning new things about wildlife and improving upon our procedures based on new information. We continually share this knowledge with other nearby rehabilitation centers and conservation groups. Our internship is a great stepping-stone for anyone interested in working in conservation in the future.
We are always recruiting hardworking and compassionate individuals who value wildlife conservation and leave lasting positive change in their wake. The work we do here can be physically and mentally taxing, so interns must be communicative about limitations. However, the expectations of interns are to be comfortable with the "tough-call" aspects of animal care, as it is unavoidable. Additionally, we recognize the value in intrinsic motivation, as there is always work to be done at a non-profit. Everyone involved with the organization is a member of the team, as we are all working towards the common goal of caring for our patients and local wildlife. The mentality we carry here is, “If I don’t do it, who will?” As trained agents of all departments, interns know first-hand how procrastination can result in an influx of work for an unsuspecting individual. Not all tasks are glamorous, but everything is worthwhile when watching a newly released animal dart into the wilderness, taking in its newfound freedom.
If you are interested in learning more about this program, please visit the internship section of our website for more information.
Mark your calendars! Our first Volunteer Orientation of 2023 is quickly approaching and we are looking forward to welcoming as many new volunteers to our team as possible. In 2023, we are going to host four volunteer orientations on January 7th, April 8th, July 8th and October 7th in the hopes of welcoming new volunteers through out the year!
If you are interested in volunteering with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, we have many volunteer roles to choose from that may be a good fit for you!
While some areas will require more experience and training than others, the first step for all areas of interest is to apply! If you are interested in volunteering or would like to fill out a volunteer application, please click the link below to visit our website.
It's Time to Schedule Your Fall Maintenance Visit!
Our 2022 Maintenance Season has begun! Reach out to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue to schedule your Fall Maintenance Visit today!
Annual barn owl box maintenance is by far the most important part of box ownership. Owlets that are raised in a nesting box do not leave the box until they are ready to fly, approximately 60 days after they hatch. During that time, they poop and regurgitate pellets inside their box, stomping it down over time until you are left with inches of solid waste build up. This makes the inside of the nesting box not only very dirty, but also much smaller. Since no housekeeping is performed by the owls, it is the box owner's responsibility to make sure next years owlets have a clean and spacious box to grow up in. That's where annual fall maintenance comes into play.
Maintenance is the practice of cleaning a barn owl box to prepare it for the next nesting season. It is also the perfect time of year to perform any repairs to the box itself. Owlets raised in nesting boxes that are not properly cleaned every year have an increased likelihood of injury, death by predation, or being kicked out of the box by a competitive sibling before they are ready. Annual maintenance also prolongs the life of your box. Maintenance should always occur after the nesting season has ended.
If you would like to schedule a fall maintenance visit, please reach out to email@example.com or call us at 707-992-0274. If you would like to learn more about maintenance services, click the link below to read our most recent article on these services.
Pellets and feces inside of a barn owl box after one nesting season.
Don't Just Take It From Us!
Check out what our friends at Bird Rescue Center said in their October 2021 Newsletter Article:
What Can Happen When Barn Owl Boxes Aren't Cleaned?
Over time, the combination of leftover food, pellets, and feces can build up inside the box, raising the height of the floor. As young owls become ambulatory, this build-up gives them easy access to the nest hole – meaning they can walk right out of the box before they are old enough to safely fly down! In the photographs to the right, you may have noticed the sizable difference in the age of the Barn Owls. If the little downy owls were to prematurely exit the box, they could be harmed on the fall, caught by a predator, or suffer from hypothermia if not found immediately.
Various health problems are another consequence of waste build-up and poor living conditions. These issues often present as respiratory issues or, even more commonly, foot and feather issues. One such group of 4 babies came to us in July of 2018 with the skin of their footpads crusted over. Walking on soft, damp substrate led to their skin softening to the point of sloughing and then thick scabs forming with no real skin underneath. (Yuck! And poor babies!) We spent the better part of a year (six to nine months!) doing various foot treatments to protect and promote the newly growing skin. Not only was captivity and medical treatment hard on them, they were not able to grow up with their parents.
In the photos above, you can see the crusted footpad on intake, then healing progression after 2 months, and nearly healed pads at 4 months.
Luckily we were able to get them released as happy, healthy owls ready to live out a natural life and continue to provide very important rodent control!
Animal Care Spotlight
This coyote pup was transferred to SCWR for conditioning in one of our large predator enclosures.
The Collaborative Efforts of Wildlife Rehabilitation
One aspect of baby season that is seldom seen by our supporters is the collaborative efforts between centers that takes place to ensure each one of our patients receive the best care possible. Between centers, there is a network of wildlife rehabilitators who work together to make sure that the individual needs of each wildlife patient are met with the highest standards of care. In some instances, animals will need to be transferred among centers to continue their care in a more specified way.
Conspecific match refers to a match of an orphaned animal of the same age and species. These types of transfers tend to happen most frequently at the beginning and end of baby season, when we are more likely to have single orphans without an appropriate age and species match. Since most wildlife thrive far better in captivity when paired with another animal of the same species, when we get a single orphan that is not paired or grouped with other conspecifics, centers will reach out to each other in search of an ideal match.
This year Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue received eight juvenile ravens for conditioning in our large flight aviary.
Conditioning occurs after the animal has been treated for which ever ailment brought them into care but need time in a large space to rebuild strength and endurance to survive in the wild. For example, a bird that sustains a wing injury and is unable to fly during treatment will need to rebuild strength in a large flight aviary before it is strong enough to be released in the wild. At Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, we have the great privilege of space, thanks to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, who value our work and let us use this 15 acre property free of charge. Thanks to this, we have been able to construct several large and specialized enclosures to help with pre-release conditioning such as our Raptor Recovery Center with a 100 ft. flight hall and 10 MEWs attached, flight aviary that spans 100 ft in length, and several large predator enclosures. Since other centers, especially those who operate and specialize in urban environments, may not have the same enclosure capacity, many centers will transfer animals into care for this final stage of rehabilitation. Most commonly, we receive birds of prey, coyotes, and bobcats for these types of transfers.
This orphaned Northern Flying Squirrel was transferred to Gold Country Wildlife to receive specialized, continued care.
The final transfer type is specialized, continued care. These transfers are where each center’s individual specialties shine. Since each center that we work with is situated in its own unique area in California, some centers may be more familiar with an individual species than others. One example is Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, who helped us care for an orphaned flying squirrel this baby season. Since the Northern Flying Squirrel is more common in their region of California, they are more specialized in their unique care and were willing to help us get the squirrel rehabilitated and back to the wild. Thanks to our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue receives many of our area’s aquatic mammals. This year, Napa Wildlife Rescue transferred an orphaned otter to us to be raised in our aquatic mammal enclosure. After several months in care, the two centers worked together to release the otter back home in Napa, CA.
This orphaned Northern River Otter was found in Napa, CA and transferred to SCWR to be raised in our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure.
Other centers may only operate with certain animals in care, like International Bird Rescue and Marine Mammal Center who specialize in the rehabilitation of aquatic birds and marine mammals. Centers throughout the North Bay rely on these facilities for specialty care. Locally, Native Songbird Care and Conservation and Bird Rescue Center share the care of Sonoma County’s smaller bird species, Sonoma County Reptile Rescue tends to the needs of reptiles and amphibians, and Fawn Rescue cares for the county’s sick, injured and orphaned fawns. When we receive calls for these species, we refer the finders to these specialized facilities or when they arrive at our doors unexpectedly, we enlist the help of transport volunteers to bring them to these facilities for specialized, continued care by the experts who know these species best.
At the end of every baby season, when we can look back at all we have achieved, it is clear that we have collectively accomplished more together than possible on our own. It is through these continued collaborative efforts that we can expand on the exemplary care our wildlife deserves. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue would like to thank all the wildlife agencies who helped us complete another successful baby season and look forward to many more together.
Support Your Local Wildlife!
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that relies on donations from the public to rehabilitate the 1,000+ animals we receive each year. We do not receive any government funding. Our annual operating budget is $1,025,000, which means it costs almost $2,810 per day to keep our doors open. Any donation helps!