Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Merry Christmas and Thank You From St. Francis!

by Catherine Greenleaf

The annual Christmas Bazaar at the Lyme Center Baptist Church was another big success this year! We sold close to 50 handmade ornaments, making enough money to pay for much-needed medication for the injured birds that come into the center.

Big thanks to all who made and donated bird ornaments this year. We very much appreciate your donations of time and hard work, and it was great to see many of you at the bazaar enjoying some hot cocoa and other holiday treats. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rebuilding and Repairing After The Microburst

The photo above shows the aftermath of a microburst that struck St. Francis Wild  Bird Center in July during prime rehabilitation season.

by Catherine Greenleaf

We counted ourselves extremely lucky this summer after a microburst suddenly ripped through our property, tearing a huge branch from a giant pine tree and dumping it on top of our bird center!

The microburst occurred during prime rehabilitation season, and all birds had to be relocated to another area while a team of tree cutters came in with their hand saws and chainsaws. The huge pine tree that stands over the center had lost an enormous branch, which caused damage to the roof of the building.

We were relieved and thankful since the situation could have been a lot worse, and no one was injured -- human or bird!

Copyright 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Volunteering For The Lake Host Program

In photo above, Lake Host Catherine Greenleaf volunteers to inspect motor boats, kayaks, and canoes for invasive aquatic species like Eurasian milfoil and the Chinese Mystery Snail.

by Catherine Greenleaf

Do you know what the Lake Host Program is? The program, launched by the New Hampshire Lakes Association several years ago, trains individuals to inspect motor boats, kayaks and canoes in order to find and remove invasive aquatic species.

Volunteers inspect the boats when they are brought to a boat launch for a day of activities on a lake. They look for invasive aquatic species that have been brought into our country by huge container ships that arrive from Europe and China. The weeds cling to the hulls of these massive ships and then break apart and find their way upstream to ponds and lakes all throughout New England. They are picked up and carried by U.S. boaters further and deeper into New England every year.

The state of New Hampshire is working hard to remove and eradicate these invasive plants, which abundantly reproduce, choking our waterways and robbing lakes and ponds of oxygen needed to sustain fish and other native aquatic life.

You can play a big part in helping New Hampshire lakes by becoming a Lake Host. There is only one morning workshop required in order to become a Lake Host. Usually held at the Squam Lakes Association headquaters in Holderness, N.H. Afterwards, you are given a hat and T-shirt to help identify yourself to boaters, along with a packet of photos used to identify invasive aquatic species, like Eurasian milfoil, Fanwort, Zebra Mussels and the Chinese Mystery Snail.

When you work as a Lake Host you inspect boats and ask motor boat operators to empty their bilge on dry land before launching their boats on the lake. After they remove their boats from the water, you once again ask them to empty their bilge on dry land before traveling to the next lake or pond. Bilge dumping on dry land prevents "hitchhiking" invasive critters and plants inside the boat's engine from ending up in our waterways. Then you also conduct a visual inspection of the boat and trailer hitch and remove any invasive aquatic species. These are later bagged up and identified for examination by state officials.

Please think about volunteering to help keep our lakes beautiful for all to enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Please Don't Squash The Turtles!

by Catherine Greenleaf

When early summer arrives and the humidity starts to rise, that is the signal for female Snapping Turtles and Painted Turtles to emerge from lakes and ponds and find a sandy spot to lay their eggs.

A typical clutch of Snapper eggs can range from 30-80 eggs, and a Snapper will often dig 4-5 holes before finding the perfect spot. Some people say a Snapper will dig several holes to outsmart raccoons, who love to hunt for the eggs and eat them. However, most likely the Snappers encounter tree roots or rocks and decide to start digging in another location. Painted Turtles, like the injured one in the photo above, usually lay 3-6 eggs per clutch.

Due to habitat loss, many Snapping Turtles must cross very busy roads to get to these sandy spots, and this can result in some catastrophic injuries. The Painted Turtle in the photos above and below was run over by a car on Route 10 in Lyme, N.H. in June. The turtle sustained a shell fracture reaching from the head area halfway across its back, as well as a deep tissue injury to its left front leg, and an eye injury. This turtle will be in rehabilitation until the end of the summer. 

The female Snapping Turtle below had already laid her clutch of eggs and was making her way back to a vernal pool in the Zeev Darer Wildlife Refuge along Rte. 120 in Lebanon, N.H., when she was hit by a car traveling in excess of 60 mph. Fortunately, it was a glancing blow, and she did survive the impact.

In the photo above you can see the extent of the fracture along the scutes across her back near the tail. This is often a delicate area, since the spine sits in this area just below the shell. You can see I have copiously flushed out the fracture, since internal organs are visible, and have treated the fracture with a special compound that acts as a topical antibiotic. The next step is to bring the fracture lines together using fasteners and wire. Her convalescence will take many months, and she will probably not be released back into the wild until the end of August.

The Painted Turtle below was also hit by a car on Route 10 in Lyme in June. This Painted's injury was a serious one, since a car ran right over her and broke one of the four bridges that fuse the top shell to the bottom shell.

To complicate matters, the Painted had not yet laid her eggs, so she was suffering from egg impaction. The crack in the shell extended from the right rear of her top shell, across a bridge and down into the bottom shell. This turtle took months to heal, but was eventually released back into the wild.

Turtles are amazingly resilient, and can survive injuries that seem sure to result in death. If you see an injured turtle on the road, Snapper or Painted, please call me at (603) 795-4850.

Copyright 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Red-Tailed Hawks Coming In Starving

by Catherine Greenleaf

With springtime comes bees and flowers, but it also brings starving raptors. Eagles, Merlins, Sharp-shinneds, Broadwings, and of course, Red-Tailed hawks are coming back to the New England area after spending the winter down south. Usually by the time they return to New Hampshire they are well below standard weight, with some losing their flight capabilities due to reduced muscle along the keel.

The photo above shows the fifth Red-Tailed hawk that has come in this spring, this one found along the roadside in Lebanon, N.H.. Most of them are immatures, just getting ready to spend their first full year as an adult. The Red-Tail above just needed several weeks of rest and lots of fat, juicy mice before being released back to the wild.

If you see a hawk standing on the ground along the side of the road, chances are very good they are suffering from extreme emaciation, especially at this time of the year. Call me at 603-795-4850.

Copyright 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's Baby Squirrel Time

by Catherine Greenleaf

Mid to late-April is the time when the telephone calls start coming in about baby squirrels. Usually it's a call about an Eastern Grey Squirrel in trouble, but we do occasionally get calls about Red Squirrels and Flying Squirrels that are orphaned or injured.

This year, many of the babies that came in for treatment were the victims of cat bites and dog bites. The cat or dog's teeth puncture the skin and sometimes rupture the internal organs. In one instance, a logger cut down a tree and an entire squirrel nest came crashing to the ground, filled with babies.

The total rehabilitation time for baby squirrels is 14 weeks. They need time to learn to scamper, climb, jump from branch to branch, and hunt for food. They progress from being hand-fed a special formula for several weeks, to being weaned, to learning to eat food on their own, to being placed in outdoor cages to learn the "way of the squirrel" before being released in a safe area.

Copyright 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Suet -- Is It Really Safe For Birds?

by Catherine Greenleaf

Is suet really safe for wild birds? That depends on what brand or type you buy. Did you know that some brands of suet contain Red Dye #40, FD and C Yellow Dyes #5 and #6, Blue Dye #1, sodium benzoate, sucrose, tartaric acid, and other artificial flavorings? In addition, many brands of suet contain ingredients that are genetically modified. Some even contain high-fructose corn syrup (the same holds true for commercially prepared hummingbird nectar).

While not many studies have been performed involving GMO foods and birds, there have been a number of GMO studies performed on rats and mice. These animals, fed GMO food products, developed damaged internal organs, abnormal tumors, decreased fertility, and increased infant mortality.

Can the bird enthusiast avoid suet with GMO food products? Not likely, since 85 percent of all corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are now genetically modified. In addition, there is no law requiring companies to reveal if their products are genetically modified.

One way to avoid some of the dyes and artificial flavorings is to visit a local slaughterhouse and buy your own bags of rendered beef fat. However, you may still end up with suet that has been tainted by hormones and antibiotics.

There is one company that claims to make organic suet. You can contact the company at

Copyright 2016