Young Western Grebes in Trouble

15 10 2014

UPDATED: 15 Western Grebes admitted for care today. More possibly coming tomorrow.

Please help!

Over last weekend Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/BAX began admitting several Western grebes into care. Battered by unusually high surf, these young birds, freshly arrived from lakes across our region, have been beaching from the Samoa peninsula to Crescent City. Right now we have eight in care, with at least that many awaiting rescue. These elegant birds, black and white with long necks, pointed bills, and red eyes, are rarely seen on land. Evolved for pursuing fish beneath the waves, on beaches they are in serious trouble.

Once rescued, they will receive expert care at our facility in Bayside. Please help us provide food, medicine and clean water. Your contribution will go a long way toward giving these birds another chance. Thank you for being an ally in this life saving work.


Can You Help?

11 10 2014

Each year BAX/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center raises a certain amount of money. Without this money we could accomplish nothing. Our supporters make a big difference everyday in the lives of injured and orphaned wild animals.

Food for our pateints.
Medical supplies.
Patient housing.
Gas for rescues across our huge geographical area
Small stipends for our most critical staff.

These are the direct costs of helping individual wild animals and wild families. We also advocate for wild animals in an effort to shift public policy toward peaceful co-existence with our wild kin. Producing workshops and educational materials for wildlife rehabilitators is another way that we work to improve the conditions and ameliorate some of the negative impacts our society has on wild animals.

Your support is critical to these efforts. And we need your support now.

This year we’ve had more wild patients brought to us than ever. Now we need your help more than ever. After a very taxing Spring and Summer we need help now recovering from our costs. We need help making the needed repairs to our facility. We need help paying our water bill. This is the very ordinary, very work-a-day, real word of direct animal care. Loving wild animals means providing clean water for pools. It means laundry soap. It means late nights writing letters to our policy makers. We express our love for baby wild mammals with food that will help them grow and learn what it means to be a a wild and free adult.

Help us grow so that we can provide for all of Northern California’s wildlife. Help us build our Aviary in Manila specifically for pelicans and other large seabirds. Help us provide the kind of professional staff our region’s wildlife needs and deserves.

Please donate. Please.

Thank you for being a part of this life-saving work.
comu ask

Unified, to better serve Wildlife

7 10 2014

Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center are one wildlife service organization!

This is such an important occasion for us! After 3 years of partnership, BAX/HWCC have merged our distinct organizations in to one to better use our resources and be more effective at meeting our mission. We are excited and optimistic for this opportunity to expand our capacity to meet the needs of injured and orphaned wildlife on California’s North Coast and beyond and to practice and teach proven best practices and foster advances in wildlife rehabilitation.

As the region’s only permitted all-species wildlife rehabilitation clinic, we serve an enormous geographical area, covering nearly 20,000 square miles. Extending from northern Mendocino County to Curry County, Oregon, and east as far as Weaverville in Trinity County, our responsibility to provide care for injured and orphaned wildlife is weighty.

This region is more than simply large, however. Radiating out from our clinic in the heart of the Jacoby Creek Watershed through the ancient Redwoods, the dune forests, the near shore ocean, and the mountains to the east, our home-place is a potentially critical refuge. As the reality of climate change takes hold, it is becoming apparent that temperate North American rain forest – stretching from here to Alaska – may be key for many species’ survival. As a committed ally of the wild, BAX/HWCC doesn’t take this lightly.

A sense of urgency is growing in communities everywhere, that we must act now, and with intelligence, if we are to preserve ourselves and our wild neighbors.

In these shared current circumstances, joining together makes sense.

Unquestionably, a major component of protecting wild animals from injury and keeping their families together is to advocate for and practice place-based, energy-aware wildlife care.

BAX/HWCC, with your support, is able to provide leadership and innovation as we accept the challenge of making true progress for our relationship with our wild neighbors, especially as viewed by the generations that will follow ours. Together we match extensive professional wildlife care experience – from around our state, our country and our world – with the rooted knowledge and deep affection long time residents of our region have for our home.

Bringing familiarity with “state of the art” facilities, combined with the organic know-how, responsible husbandry and sustainable practices needed to reduce waste and repurpose the material wealth of our world, BAX/HWCC offers a possibility for the future of wildlife rehabilitation that is adaptable and resilient in uncertain times.

Most importantly, and most practically, this union allows us to streamline our efforts at outreach and education. Encouraging co-existence with our wild neighbors is as important as providing quality rehabilitative care. Because we reach out to a diverse community, our message of humane solutions for human/wildlife conflicts is one of our most effective forms of animal care!

As one entity our materials and programs can be efficiently designed and the burden of costs can be jointly shouldered. Our ability to ensure that the overall community is aware of the services to wildlife we provide will be enhanced by this streamlining as well. We look forward to producing more quality materials for schools, agencies and organizations.

We also will be “rolling out” our new website by the end of the year with expanded resources, thanks to support from the McLean Foundation and the Humbodlt Area Foundation.

There is, in short, a lot of work to be done. Against all our modern catastrophes, hands are needed everywhere. At Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we are committed to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wild animals. We believe that no matter what crises we face, these individual animals whose lives are disturbed by the industrial world, will always deserve the best available care.

Thank for your support of our organizations in the past, and for helping us reach this exceptional place. Now we ask for your continued support as we embark on this new era.

With warm appreciation,|
The Board, Staff and Volunteers of Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center

September 25, 2014

3 10 2014

Originally posted on The Pelican Media Blog:

Below the photo is an updated list of theatrical bookings to date. In addition, you’re invited to these special events:

October 3rd (Friday): Festival Premiere at “Doctober” Film Festival in Bellingham WA.

October 8th (Wednesday): Preview clips from “Pelican Dreams” and Q&A with filmmaker Judy Irving in Sonoma, CA.

October 25th (Saturday): Q&A with filmmaker Judy Irving at the Rialto Cinemas, Elmwood, Berkeley

November 1st (Saturday): Q&A with filmmaker Judy Irving at the Sebastiani Theater, Sonoma

November 2nd (Sunday): Q&A with filmmaker Judy Irving at the Rialto Cinemas, Sebastopol, accompanied by raptors from Sonoma County’s Bird Rescue Center, thanks to Executive Director Mary Ellen Rayner.

Dani offers Morro a stick

Dani offers Morro a stick

The film has so far been booked in 35 theatres across the country! Dates below are opening dates; runs will last at least a week in most venues, depending on audience turnout. Please tell friends!

24-Oct San…

View original 191 more words

Bird Ally X now on AmazonSmile

2 10 2014
Bird Ally X

In Wildness is the Preservation of Raccoons, In Raccoons is the Preservation of the Wild

27 09 2014

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) babies have a lot to learn. As adults, Raccoons hunt and forage for a wide range of food, from songbird eggs to berries to the salmon a bear leaves behind. Raccoons hunt small rodents, crunch on snails, and nibble the mushrooms on the forest floor. Raccoons are brave, resilient, adaptable and notoriously intelligent.

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Orphaned Raccoons in their housing, prepare for the wide and wild world. To help them recognize the real world when they see it, we’ve provided them an artificial river of concrete. We call it the Los Angeles river. No substitute for an ecosystem, but at least they know to look for fish in moving water.

Raccoons have lived in North America for millions of years. This familiar wild neighbor has nearly as many names as there are indigenous languages. We use the Algonquian name, derived from arahkunem – which is said to mean “scratches with hands.”(1) Locally, in Wiyot, the animal “with the painted face” is known as jbelhighujaji (pronunciation).(2)

For a glimpse into their place in the ecology of Northern California, a Shasta story has Coyote and Raccoon living together each with five children. When a jealous rivalry ends with Coyote killing and feeding Raccoon to his children, one of Coyote’s sons tells Raccoon’s orphans what happened – they decide to kill all Coyote’s pups but the one who told them. Afterward they flee with the spared pup into the sky. Coyote tries to follow but cannot keep up. The six young animals become the Pleiades, high above in winter when no raccoons are about, and down from the sky in Spring and Summer when raccoons emerge with young.(3)

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Taken to a remote tributary of a nearby river, rehabiliator Lucie Adamson and volunteers prepare to release the season’s first six raccoons back into their wild freedom.

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Taking their first tentative steps into a world without walls. As kits, as soon as they began eating solid food, they were offered fish, mushrooms, plant material, small rodents, small birds, vegetables, fruit, eggs and insects, hidden under rocks and logs, hanging from branches. They know where to look for food.

It isn’t frivolous to consider the seriousness of raising orphaned babies of a species this complex, this storied, this ordinary, this mysterious. Here we are, as removed from “universal nature” as any species has ever been, yet it’s up to us to provide an education for these wild young things.

When we commit to the care of a wild orphan, we accept the responsibility for their wild education. To teach a wild baby to be wild requires an inhabiting imagination. We must see the world this young animal will see, and then provide the challenges that will teach the skills necessary to thrive in that world.

When we commit to the care of a wild animal, we are committing to the wild, to nature – we are accepting Nature’s terms – we are accepting, and in fact seeking, the blaze of reality. This is, as they say, a tall order.

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Young, healthy and in a lush and resource-filled environment, these orphans will soon find out they are home.

Meeting nature’s terms does place the rehabilitator in an awkward position. Our towns, our cities, ranches, forestry, fisheries, in short, nearly all of modern society struggles to co-exist with the wild. Promoting co-existence with wild animals – this alone puts a person outside of most of society’s concerns.

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Just released, this Raccoon finds something to eat right away.

To be an ally of the wild often puts a wildlife caregiver in opposition to the general dreams and desires of our human neighbors. Schools, shopping centers, highways, solar farms, windmills, none of these, no matter their merits, is a boon to the wild. Even though any of these promises to preserve the world, a wildlife rehabilitator doubts the proposition.

Experience, or maybe intuition, knows that people don’t preserve ‘the Wild.” The wild is the expanding universe and the cosmic sweep of galaxies, it’s the comet’s eventual return, the dividing cell, the grasp of the leaf cutter beetle, the gill, the hoof, the photosensitive tissue that finds these words on the screen. We see the strip mine, the copper mine, the mountain top removed for the coal beneath – the  old forest destroyed – the old forest re-named “overburden.” Factory trawlers scraping the bottom of the sea, oil spilled from exhaust into the suffocating sky – it’s hard to believe that modern society will preserve anything.

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After nearly four months in care, a young Raccoon explores a real river for the first time.

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Reaching the opposite shore.

Henry David Thoreau, in his essay “Walking,” offers what could be the wildlife rehabilitator’s complete philosophy, in eight simple words: “in Wildness is the preservation of the world.”(4) This statement is irrefutable. In some ways it is shocking that it had to be uttered. To rehabilitate wildlife, rehabilitators live by this simple truth, its utter grace and its razor sharp accuracy.

Everything emanates from the Wild. What else can the wild be if not the headwaters of existence? The wild could be called the real. We may as well say that in reality is the preservation of the world – not in law, not in hybrid automobiles, not in aqueducts, not in theology. The real presents itself. Wild allies follow as we can.

This year, at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, BAX staff  and volunteers have been caring for two dozen orphaned Raccoons. Our first litter of four, whose mother had been trapped and dumped miles away, came the third week of May. They were nearly three weeks old. Last weekend we released six youngsters who were ready to go. We still have over a dozen in care.

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With startling speed the Raccoons dispersed into the forest.

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It can be difficult, as caregivers, to prepare our charges to one day climb much higher than we ever could.

Each of these youngsters is learning to hunt, to forage, to climb, to hide when threatened. Each of these youngsters is fierce and determined. Healthy in mind and body, we release them into a carefully chosen site. Food must be present. Water, too. Cover against predators (Coyote is still looking for Raccoon) must be available. Room to roam – these animals must be able to disperse from this site, preferably adjusting to freedom and autonomy before encountering a backyard and the get-rich-quick scheme to be found in humanity’s garbage pails.

For the release, the six Raccoons were weighed, examined and put into transport carriers. We drove them to a remote location on a tributary of a nearby river. Once the carrier doors were opened, five of them sprung into action, heading for the river and swimming across to its other bank. Some climbed trees, others immediately searched for and found food (food we’d put there, but nothing like early success to build confidence!).

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One Raccoon was more cautious. Our release team moved back from the site and waited.

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At last, confident that the coast was clear, S/he left the carrier behind.

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Forest riparian habitat is excellent for Raccoons. And it didn’t take this group long to figure that out. Now they’ve entered the real world. Will each survive and live long lives? No one knows. What we do know is that we’ve given these young wild kin the best chance we could.

One Raccoon hung back, not leaving the relative safety of the known carrier, poking her head out, ducking back in. Our team moved back and waited. Eventually, after many hesitating starts, she left the carrier and quickly disappeared into Reality.

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All good things are wild and free. – Henry D Thoreau

Your contribution makes the care of orphaned Raccoons, and all of our wild neighbors who need our help, possible. Please donate. Thank you for being a part of our life-saving work.


All photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X

(1) The Rice University Neologisms Database, ‘coon’, accessed 27 September 2014

(2), accessed 27 September 2014

(3) Shasta and Athapascan Myths from Oregon, Livingston Farrand and Leo J. Frachtenberg: The Journal of American Folklore Vol. 28, No. 109 (Jul. – Sep., 1915) , pp. 207-242

(4) Walking, Henry David Thoreau, The Atlantic,  June 1862

The welcoming committee was slightly outlandish.

21 09 2014

In early July, on the beach at Big Lagoon park, a young Common Murre (Uria aalge) was found struggling in the surf. Too small to be in the ocean, certainly too young to be alone, without rescue certain death awaited the young bird.

Common Murres, like most alcids, spend their entire lives on the sea, coming to land only in Spring for the annual rites of renewal. Found all around the Northern Hemisphere (circumpolar), Murres nest in large colonies on rocks, seastacks and remote cliffs that are safe from predators. Before they can fly, when their wings are still quite undeveloped, parents, typically their fathers, lead the chicks from the colony out to sea and good foraging areas.

The ocean is a big place, though, and for any number of reasons, a chick can become separated from her or his parent. Without a father, the only hope these young birds have is to wash up on a beach and be found.

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After a week in care, still sporting the nestling fuzz

Weighing in at 159 grams on his/her first day in care, a heatlamp and food were offered, as well as a quiet place to become accustomed to this sudden turn of events. For the time being, there would be no parent, no rolling swell of the North Pacific, no live fish freshly delivered. For the first two weeks in care, we had to put whole fish in the young seabird’s mouth to ensure s/he was eating.

While the Ancient Mariner’s complaint of  “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” may be true for humans, seabirds do drink salt water. A special gland – the salt gland – filters out the excess salinity. Exposure to salt is important for this gland’s development. For this reason, among others, we provide a salted pool for young, growing seabirds.

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Salting the pool

Provided that a juvenile Murre is healthy enough to be housed in the pool without losing waterproofing or body temperature, then treatment is a relatively simple matter of periodic examinations and a lot of fish. This young bird, who at adulthood will weigh a little under two pounds (about 900 grams) ate two-thirds of a pound of fish each day, or about 40 pounds over the course of her/his care.

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In the big pool for the first time

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A growing baby after 8 weeks in care

From less than 200 grams to release, our youngster had to gain nearly 800 grams! Common Murres are wing-propelled “pursuit divers.” This means that they chase down fish underwater, using their wings to move – essentially flying beneath the surface of the sea! When s/he began diving in the pool we offered live fish, so that s/he could begin learning to hunt.

At last, on September 8, the young bird was as ready as s/he’d ever be for release.

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Netting the Common Murre from the pool for release evaluation.

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Rehabilitator Lucinda Adamson evaluates our patient for release.

Humboldt Bay opens into the North Pacific through a channel kept open by constant dredging. Not only does this allow a wide range of vessels to the bay, the channel, known locally as the Jaws, is used by seabirds of many species. At this time of year it is very common to see Common Murre fathers and their young foraging here. We chose this place to release our Murre so that s/he’d be close to his/her own kind, with the hope that they would finish teaching all that we couldn’t. (A 2500 gallon pool in Bayside is not the Pacific Ocean!)

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The “Jaws” connecting Humboldt Bay to the Pacific Ocean. A “feeding frenzy” awaits our patient!

When we got to the rocky bank of the Jaws, the tide was out and the water was unusually calm. Rehabilitator Lucinda Adamson and volunteer Jeannie Gunn made their way down to the edge. A hundred yards out, a large group of birds was feasting upon an unseen school of fish. Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), Double-crested and Brandt’s Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus and Phalacrocorax penicillatus, respectively) Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia) and, most happily, hundreds of Common Murres were all diving and calling. A symphony of Murre calls, as fathers and their young stayed in contact, rang out, louder than all else.

Here’s a short video from that day:

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Out of the box, into freedom.

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Back in the Ocean, our patient takes a moment to see “which way the wind blows.”

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To sea!

Soon after hitting the water, our youngster swam out from shore, toward the large group. A pair of Murres, an adult and juvenile approximately the same age, swam up to our bird. Immediately they began diving together, one of them surfacing with a fish. And then they melted into the group and “our bird” was ours no more. Now s/he was her own bird, just as s/he always had been.

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Looking of fish

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A colleague!

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An adult in background

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A fish for a youngster?

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Happy wildlife caregivers enjoying the beauty of their work

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An adult Brown Pelican does a flyby

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Sandpipers on the wing across the Jaws

Your help is needed. The specialized care that seabirds require is made possible by your contribution. Please help us help wild wild animals in distress. Give today.


all photographs: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X


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