By Joanna Fitzgerald
Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
91 animals admitted this past week
Four Carolina wrens and a gray fox were among the 91 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a cooper’s hawk, eight eastern cottontails, a northern cardinal, five chimney swifts, a swallow-tailed kite and a Florida softshell turtle.
A member of the public brought a nest with four newly hatched Carolina wrens to the wildlife hospital after observing the nest and seeing no adult bird return to care for the babies for a full day.
The man explained that his cat had killed one of the parent wrens.
He waited and watched hoping the second parent would continue caring for the babies but after a day went by, he realized the babies had been abandoned.
The male and female provide parental care in most species of birds. It is very difficult for one parent to continue to raise their babies if something happens to the other parent. The one remaining parent becomes solely responsible for defending and feeding the brood as well as trying to maintain its own health. The food requirements needed by the four newly hatched wrens would have been more than the one surviving parent could handle.
The nestling wrens (just slightly larger than the size of a jelly bean) were unresponsive and cold when they arrived at the hospital.
They were too weak to open their mouths to beg for food. Their small and delicate size made it extremely difficult to manually open their mouths to get them to eat. The stress on the babies was too much.
The only humane option in this situation was to euthanize the babies.
This was a heartbreaking situation, five lives lost from one cat.
Watch your pets when they’re outside
Cats have an instinct to hunt; it doesn't have to do with whether they are hungry, the instinct is always there.
Please, if you own a cat, keep it indoors. Always monitor your cat if it is allowed outside and do not underestimate its ability and instinct to hunt.
Wildlife and pets don’t mix.
For the health and safety of your pets, and the health and safety of local wildlife, always keep pets under control and a safe distance from any wild animals.
Recent Releases — 24 animals go home
- 1 least tern
- 2 common grackles
- 3 blue jays
- 2 eastern cottontails
- 1 Florida red-bellied turtle
- 1 loggerhead shrike
- 1 gopher tortoise
- 5 northern mockingbirds
- 2 mourning doves
- 1 barred owl
- 1 osprey
- 3 eastern screech owls
- 1 grey squirrel
The least tern “release” was actually a re-nesting. Due to the lack of available beach space for nesting, many least terns have altered their behavior and now nest on shopping center roof tops.
Wildlife Hospital staff contacted researchers at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to find out which rooftop the least terns were nesting on in that shopping center.
Von Arx Wildlife Hospital Staff, along with Rookery Bay Staff, coordinated with the store manager to gain access to the roof so the baby least tern could rejoin the colony.
Least terns are a state designated threatened species. Every bird is important to the survival of the species so it was fantastic that everyone could work together to get the least turn back to its colony
Recent releases — 33 animals go home
- 8 northern mockingbirds
- 3 peninsula cooters
- 1 gopher tortoise
- 1 opossum
- 3 eastern cottontails
- 3 Florida softshell turtles
- 1 barred owl
- 1 yellow-crowned night heron
- 1 downy woodpecker
- 1 mourning dove
- 2 blue jays
- 4 mottled ducks
- 1 anhinga
- 1 red-shouldered hawk
- 2 eastern screech owls
Please visit our website at www.conservancy.org and learn about the many opportunities there are to get involved.
Volunteers are vital in our efforts to assist native wildlife.
However you choose to become involved, your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.