Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 -- A Very Good Year!

Phew! Another year is coming to a close at St. Francis Wild Bird Hospital. It has been a very busy year indeed, with a whopping 142 birds coming in for treatment -- our highest number of patients to date!

We were blessed in many ways during 2010. We had the great good fortune of having two interns during the summer months. A young lady from Lyme, Kathleen Murdoch, who is studying wildlife biology at a university in Florida, was able to help us throughout the months of June and July. Another young lady, Kelly Nywening, traveled all the way from upstate New York to help us during the entire month of June. I am so grateful for the help I received from both of these young ladies and wish them happy futures working with wildlife!

Another exciting development: a group of young men from The Oliverian School, a local private school in Pike, N.H., built us an indoor raptor mew. These young men, along with their instructors, spent the day hammering and sawing at the bird hospital to build this large, specially-designed enclosure for hawks and owls. I am most grateful for their efforts!

We also had an impressive turn-out for the annual bird hospital cleaning this past spring. Seven volunteers, mostly people from the town of Lyme, showed up to sweep, scrub and scrape until the hospital was shining clean! Thanks to everyone for your help.

Again, we are also grateful to all of the people who donated towels, cages, food, and encouragement. We could not do our job without you!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Protecting Birds from Windows

by Catherine Greenleaf

A good number of injured birds that come to my center have head injuries from flying into a picture window. A bird can knock himself unconscious by flying into glass. If the bird has knocked himself out, you can place him in a cardboard box on a table outside. This will keep him safe from predators like cats until he regains consciousness. If he does not regain consciousness within 30 minutes, then he will need to come to my bird center for treatment.

Consider placing a bird decal on your picture window. These are black or clear plastic decals that will alert the bird they are flying near glass. Sometimes the sun will shine in a particular direction and the bird will be unable to differentiate between the glass and thin air. These decals, quite literally, can make a bird swing up and away just in time to avoid serious injury. There are many bird supply catalogs, like Duncraft, that sell these decals by mail.

You can save many bird's lives by taking this easy step!

Copyright 2014

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Many Thanks to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital

Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital has just donated a large amount of equipment and supplies to help wild bird rehabilitators in the Gulf of Mexico as they struggle to clean birds covered in crude oil due to the BP Oil Spill.

St. Francis Wild Bird Center would like to thank Mr. Burnham and his staff at Alice Peck Day for being so generous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's okay to place baby bird back into nest

by Catherine Greenleaf

Contrary to what many people believe, you can touch a baby bird and place him back in the nest. The parents will not reject them. It's an Old Wive's Tale that once you touch a bird the parents can smell your scent and will reject the baby. The truth is, birds have a very poor sense of smell!

This is the time of year when you will see babies on the ground. It is not yet time for baby birds to fledge, so it is perfectly okay to get a ladder and put the baby back into the nest. Once June 15 arrives, the birds will fledge and will have enough feathers to keep themselves warm out of the nest. They may not be able to fly far (it looks more like hopping) and their parents will be protecting them in the trees above.

However, if you find a baby bird on the ground that looks weak, sick, is bleeding, is covered in dirt, is not vocalizing, or is shivering, the bird needs to get to my center.

Copyright 2014

I've found an injured bird -- what do I do?

St. Francis Wild Bird Center in Lyme, N.H. is officially open for the season. 

Baby bird season is in full-swing, and since I get so many phone calls about injured baby and adult birds from the Lyme area, I thought I would post this info to make things a little easier.

Should you find an injured bird, here is what you do:

1.   Put on gloves and place bird in cardboard box with soft towel on bottom.

2.   Bring bird in box into the house. Please do not leave in a garage or on a porch, as a wild bird's ability to maintain body temperature when injured is very poor. 

3.   Please do not attempt to feed or give water to the bird. Feeding a bird with internal injuries can kill the bird.

4.   Please keep the bird dark, warm and quiet, keeping it away from children, pets and loud noises like T.V. and telephone. Handling the bird excessively can cause enough stress to kill the bird.

5.   Call me at 795-4850. If you can bring the bird to my center (37 Union St., Lyme) all the better. If you need help with transport, I do have some volunteers who may be willing to meet you halfway, etc. Please understand that once my hospital is full of birds, I cannot leave to do pickups myself.

6.   VERY IMPORTANT: If you suspect the bird has been handled by a cat or dog (a bite/carried in mouth) then it is vital you get the bird to me as soon as possible. Cats have a bacteria called pasturella in their saliva and it is 100 percent fatal to birds. I can save the bird with antibiotics but the bird only has a 5-10 hour window for treatment before it is too late.

Thanks to all the many Lyme residents who have brought me injured/abandoned birds over the last several years. Feel free to visit my center's blogsite

Kindest regards,

Catherine Greenleaf
State Licensed and Federally Permitted
Wildlife Rehabilitator
St. Francis Wild Bird Center
37 Union Street
Lyme, NH 03768
(603) 795-4850

Copyright 2014

Monday, May 17, 2010

Volunteer Orientation -- this Wednesday night! May 19 at the Converse Free Library at 7-7:45 p.m.

Join us at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, May 19, at the Converse Free Library in Lyme (lower room) and hear all about how you can help St. Francis Wild Bird Center!

There are many volunteer jobs open this year, and center director Catherine Greenleaf will explain what each job entails. The volunteer orientation will run from 7 - 7:45 p.m.

Hope to see you there! And, as always, many thanks to all the volunteers who have helped St. Francis in previous years.

The Goal of the Wildlife Rehabilitator

by Catherine Greenleaf

The goal of a wildlife rehabilitator is to get an injured bird into critical care as soon as possible to maximize all chances of survival for the animal. After the emergency has passed and medical treatment has been administered, the rehabilitator then tends to the daily needs of the bird for weeks and sometimes even months, if need be, until the bird can be released back into the wild. 
The day of release is the happiest day for a rehabilitator, because that day is the culmination of many hundreds of hours of work, work that often reaches into the wee hours of the night.
You, as a resident of Grafton County, can play a critical role in helping injured wildlife. First of all, know who your local wildlife rehabilitators are and which animals they specialize in. While St. Francis Wild Bird Center is devoted to strictly birds, turtles and snakes, other rehabilitators in the state are dedicated to mammals, or birds and mammals. Having the list of phone numbers handy will greatly increase the speed at which the injured animal can get into the right hands and receive the treatment needed to save his life. We always appreciate your concern and assistance! To access contact information about your nearest wildlife rehabilitator, please go to:

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List of Bird Species of Special Concern in New Hampshire

While New Hampshire Fish & Game regularly posts two lists: Endangered Species and Threatened Species, there is a third list called Species of Special Concern. These are birds that are not yet endangered or threatened but very well could be in the coming years. This list contains birds who are slowly vanishing from New Hampshire due to habitat loss, cat predation and car and window strikes.

Cliff Swallow

Bicknell's Thrush

American Pipit

Golden-Winged Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Vesper Sparrow

Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow

Eastern Meadowloark

Rusty Blackbird

Spruce Grouse

Least Bittern


American Kestrel


Common Moorhen


Arctic Tern


Olive-Sided Flycather

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Bank Swallow

Criteria for Release of a Bird

by Catherine Greenleaf

People often ask me: how do you know when it's time to release a bird? A bird in rehabilitation must meet several criteria before being released back into the wild:
1. The injury that caused their rescue must be completely healed.
2. The bird must be able to fly up, down, horizontally, as well as be able to bank left and right turns. Owls must be able to fly soundlessly.
3. The bird must be able to eat on his own. If a raptor, he must pass a live prey hunting test.
4. If a juvenile bird, he must have adequate plumage and the feathers must be fully waterproof.
5. The bird must be acclimatized to current weather conditions.
6. The bird must exhibit the "fight or flight" syndrome in order to avoid predators, including humans.
7. The bird must be strong enough physically to undergo migration.
As you can see, there are many "musts" but birds learn quickly and are usually just as eager to be released as I am to release them!

Copyright 2014

New Rodent Poison Killing Raptors

by Catherine Greenleaf

The use of rodenticides, including some new products on the market, are causing numerous fatalities among hawks and owls across the United States, according to recent avian research. 
While the use of mouse and rat poison has always proved dangerous to raptors, in recent years several new types have emerged on the market that are resulting in fatal internal hemorrhaging for the unsuspecting bird that catches and eats a mouse or rat that has ingested the poison. In the past, wildlife rehabilitators were sometimes able to use charcoal to absorb the toxin from the bird's system and save the animal's life. However, these newer brands work too quickly to allow for intervention from rehabilitators because they are anti-coagulants and prevent the bird's blood from clotting. 
You can help hawks and owls by avoiding the use of all rodenticides/pesticides around your backyard, farms and barns, but especially the following:

Brodifacoum - Brand names: Havoc, Talon-G
Bromadiolone - Brand name:s Maki, Contrac
Bromethalin - Brand names: Assault, Trounce
Cholecalciferol-Vitamin D3 - Brand names: Quintox, Rampage
Chlorophacinone - Brand names: RoZol, AC 90
Compound 1080 sodium monofluoroacetate
Cyanide - Brand name: Feratox
Diphacinone - Brand names: Ramik, Bait Blocks
Pivalyl - Pindone - Brand names: Pival, Pivalyn
Warfarin - Brand-names: d-Con, Proline
Zinc phosphide - Brand-name: ZP

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List of Threatened and Endangered Birds in the State of New Hampshire

Threatened BIRDS:

common loon, Gavia immer

American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis

grasshopper sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum

pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps

bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus

common tern, Sterna hirundo

Endangered BIRDS:

common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor

northern harrier, Circus cyaneus

golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

piping plover, Charadrius melodus

upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda

roseate tern, Sterna dougallii

least tern, Sterna antillarum

sedge wren, Cistothorus platensis

Please Don't Release White Doves at Weddings

by Catherine Greenleaf

How romantic! A couple recites their wedding vows, kisses and then opens a wooden box, releasing two beautiful white doves to symbolize their love for one another. 
While releasing live animals at a wedding may initially seem like a sweet idea, please know that many of these beautiful birds perish after release at these functions. Many, if not most, of the businesses that specialize in bird release at weddings and other functions, are fly-by-night operations out to make a buck. 
The birds are often ill-trained in how to return to their roosting box or simply aren't trained at all -- in which case they get lost in the woods and starve to death or are killed by predators. Each June, during prime wedding season, wildlife rehabilitators' hospitals like mine are swamped with injured and starving white doves. Won't you do your part and stop the cruelty to birds? Spread the word!

Copyright 2014

What Is A Wildlife Rehabilitator?

by Catherine Greenleaf

People are often unsure about the role of the wildlife rehabilitator. The following should clear up some of the confusion:
1. Your local wildlife rehabilitator is someone who has volunteered to rescue and take in injured wildlife to medically treat and rehabilitate. Your local wildlife rehabilitator is offering these rehabilitation services for free. While licensed by the federal government and permitted by the State of New Hampshire, your local wildlife rehabilitator does not get paid by U.S. Fish and Wildlife or the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
2. Your local wildlife rehabilitator spends an average of 14-16 hours per day rehabilitating injured wildlife, seven days a week during the "on" season. The rehabilitator receives most calls for rescues from the New Hampshire State Police, local police and New Hampshire Fish & Game.
3. Your local wildlife rehabilitator has undergone extensive training and testing in wildlife care at his or her own expense and has often assisted other wildlife rehabilitators in running their wildlife hospitals in order to gain practical, hands-on experience.
4. Unfortunately your local rehabilitator may not have time to drive over to your house to pick up an injured bird or mammal once the busy season starts. It is important that you take the time to see the bird is immediately transported safely and humanely to the wildlife rehabilitator's hospital, regardless of whether it is day or night. The longer you wait, the more likely the bird will expire before getting help. It is sometimes possible for the rehabilitator to send a volunteer to your house to transport the bird or meet you halfway. 
A wildlife rehabilitator is constantly working to keep injured animals alive in their hospital -- administering medication, fluids, heat treatments and cleaning wounds and bandaging broken bones. When a wildlife rehabilitator is forced to leave his or her hospital to pick up an animal, a bird already in treatment can die. Please don't put your local wildlife rehabilitator in that position.The more you are willing to help, the better the chances for the bird's survival.
5. If you wish to know the status of an injured bird you have taken to a wildlife rehabilitator, please call to inquire. Please understand that the volume of work prevents a wildlife rehabilitator from calling each and every person about an animal's status unless you specifically request the information. 
Thank you -- We appreciate your care and concern!

Copyright 2014

A Primer on Baby Birds

by Catherine Greenleaf

Baby birds fall into five categories: 1) hatchling; 2) nestling; 3) fledgling; 4) branchling; and 5) juvenile
A hatchling has literally just come out of the egg. He is completley featherless and has just skin. His eyes are extremely large but covered in skin, so he is blind. A hatchling has no way to keep himself warm. One parent bird will often sit on the hatchlings to maintain proper body temperature for the babies while the other parent goes off to hunt for insects for the young.
A nestling is still very much under the care of his parents. Within the first two weeks he has grown a few feathers (these are called pin feathers, which are feathers rolled up in a keratin sheath that will fall away once the feather has finished growing) but still has quite a bit of skin showing. He doesn't quite resemble a bird -- not yet, anyway. He must be fed by his parents every 15-20 minutes from sunrise to sunset. He competes with his siblings in the nest for food. A nestling is unable to control his body temperature and is kept warm by his siblings and parents -- especially at night.
A fledgling is just about ready to leave the nest or has just left the nest to try to jump, fly and look around on his own. This does not mean his wings are matured enough to enable him to fly. And he still needs food and supervision from his parents. A fledgling will often jump from the nest to the ground just below the nest and the parents will watch over him and come down and feed him. Don't forget, there are many species of ground-nesting birds, whose nest will sit near the base of a tree or bushes. This is where I find good-hearted people often make the biggest mistakes. They see, or their children see, a bird on the ground, and they assume the bird is in trouble. In 9 cases out of 10, the bird is perfectly okay. The exception would be if you have cats or dogs roaming loose in your yard. In that case, the baby is in grave danger.
A branchling is a baby who has successfully fledged from the nest and can fly on his own. He can fly to and sit on a branch. Through imitation, he is learning to eat by following his parents, e.g., eating insects, worms, seeds, etc. He is nearly fully feathered and looks like a miniature version of his grown-up parents. He maintains a close distance to his parents.
A juvenile has left home in search of his own fortune. He has left his parents and siblings or he and his siblings have banded up to search for a nearby flock of their species. Most birds migrate and finding a flock to finish out the summer months is crucial for juveniles. In this way, they learn to forage and to migrate south for the winter and to return to their breeding grounds the following spring.

Copyright 2014

Watch How You Drive -- And Keep Birds Alive

by Catherine Greenleaf

Like clockwork, you can expect fledgling and juvenile birds to be out in high numbers in late spring and early summer. Please drive slowly during this time. Forty miles per hour would be ideal. 
As you are probably well aware, Route 10 from Lyme to Hanover is a virtual bird nursery. 
Juveniles have still not learned to fly over cars and could very well fly right into the side of your car or be struck by the front of your car. This is always a distressing situation, especially if you have children in the car. By driving more slowly, you allow the juveniles to correct their mistakes by flying up or away just in time to miss your car. If you drive any faster, physics dictates that you will hit the bird -- and it will probably be fatal. 
If the worst should happen, and the bird is still alive, please bring the bird IMMEDIATELY to St. Francis Wild Bird Hospital. This is not an injury that can wait until you come back from the dentist's office. Call me on your cell phone to let me know you are on your way. This becomes even more critical should you hit a raptor. Some birds, like peregrine falcons and eagles, are threatened and even endangered in the state of New Hampshire.
Rule of thumb: If a bird darts across the front of your car, slow down because chances are good his mate or siblings are right behind him!

Copyright 2014

On The Touchy Subject of Outdoor Cats

I am often asked "Isn't it okay to let my cat go outside? After all, being outside and hunting birds is part of a cat's natural instinct, right?"
Let's examine this idea. Each year in the United States, over 300 million songbirds are killed by outdoor cats. This is a serious issue since many species of songbird are already in perilous decline due to loss of habitat. The cost for veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators who treat and then rehabilitate birds attacked by cats numbers in the millions of dollars each year. 
Cats let outside are struck and killed by cars, attacked and eaten by wild animals, or poisoned, shot and tortured by irate neighbors. Each year, tens of millions of outdoor cats are killed in these ways. Don't you think it's rather cruel and abusive to allow a cat outdoors when they face so many grave risks? New research reveals most outdoors cats only live 2 to 6 years, while cats kept indoors can live to 15 years of age.
Just imagine: if cats were kept indoors none of these losses or costs would be necessary.
Please know that the U.S. Humane Society and U.S. Fish & Wildlife do not take kindly to the idea of allowing cats outdoors for these very reasons, and in some states, like Florida, has initiated efforts to control outdoor cats -- at great expense to U.S. taxpayers.
One compromise many cat owners are willing to make is to keep their cats indoors for the months of June and July, when hatchling birds are in abundance, and then allow them to go outside the rest of the year. Just this one small change could help increase the songbird population to a great degree.

Copyright 2014

Fishing Line and Birds -- A Deadly Combination

Thousands of birds die in this country each year because they become hopelessly entangled in discarded monofilament fishing line. I have treated many injured birds in my practice who have come in with their legs and wings wrapped up in fishing line, or starving or suffering from internal bleeding because they have ingested a hook that was left in the water by a person fishing. Just about any bird can become entangled in fishing line, but the most likely victims are water birds like Great Blue Herons, loons, cormorants, ducks, geese, and kingfishers.
You may not know this -- but monofilament fishing line does not break (it takes 300 years for monofilament to biodegrade), so no matter how hard the bird struggles, he is not going to break free. In fact, struggling often makes the bird's predicament even worse as he becomes more and more entangled. In fact, I have seen birds come in who have lost entire wings or legs because the line became so tight it cut off the bird's blood circulation.
Hooks, too, (especially treble hooks) can do terrible damage to a bird's esophagus, causing internal hemorrhaging, difficulty breathing or swallowing food, which leads to starvation. Remember, a bird swallows his fish whole and digests it in his crop later, so his throat must be fully opened to accept his food. When a hook obstructs the throat, the bird slowly starves.
When your fishing line becomes entangled in the branches of a tree, please do the responsible thing and remove it! -- both the line and the hook. Left there, the fishing line becomes a trap waiting to snare the next bird to come along.
If you do find a bird entangled in fishing line or exhibiting problems breathing, please bring the bird to St. Francis Wild Bird Hospital.

Copyright 2014