Blog Archive November 2008

A Toxic Field

Posted on 30 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

The hunters shot over a corn field. They'd been using that field for years. Some of their best memories were shooting in that field. The hunters were careful not to bother or shoot protected birds that rested and fed in the fields. They were only there to hunt geese and duck that passed over the field during hunting season.

So when the Sandhill Cranes rested in the fields during migration, the hunters stayed away. No sense taking a chance.

The Sandhill Crane fed happily on grain in the field unaware that the field was normally used for shooting. Stomach full, the Crane continued his migration south.

The hunters would never know that the lead shards, full lead pellets and parts of the shell (the wad) would all be ingested along with corn and grain by the unassuming Sandhill Crane. Enough lead, in fact, to kill a bird.

And so it was....

Another tragedy of environmental poisoning.

Let the Rut Begin Postscript

Posted on 27 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Ironically, early yesterday morning I received a call regarding a buck that had just been hit and was trying to drag itself out of the road. I was already in the car and only about five minutes away, so I decided to check on him right away. I found him on the grassy shoulder. He was dead and had already been spotted by a coyote. He was about a six-point buck. I dragged him into the woods where the coyote could eat undisturbed by passers-by.

On Thanksgiving

Posted on 27 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

I am grateful to know my life's work and to pursue it. I am grateful for our patients' wills to live. I am grateful for our dedicated volunteers who help us Save Lives.


Horned Grebe, Cold Waters

Posted on 23 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

This Horned Grebe, a small migratory water bird, hit a window in our great city and descended to the walkway below. Like Loons, Grebes are meant for diving not for walking on or taking off from dry land. Grounded, he sat waiting for help. A passerby picked him up and phoned our Northerly Island bird hospital.

We treated the Grebe for minor head trauma and returned him back to water once he recovered. Unaffected by the cold waters of Lake Michigan, he flapped happily.

We imagine that he was on his way from his summer home in northwestern Canada headed towards his winter home in the southeastern United States.
Thank you, Bob Vogelzang, for taking photos of this release and for giving us permission to use them on our blog!

Bye Bye Birdie - Flying South for the Winter

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Well, migration is coming to an end for the fall. Birds of prey, which migrate during the day, are still coming are Sandhill Cranes. For the most part, however, the small migratory birds have already passed through our area.

Some birds migrated to southern Illinois while others went to places like the southern United States, West Indies or Central America. Migration is a very dangerous time for these birds. Not only does migration require significant stores of energy, but birds sometimes get caught in storms, get pushed out over vast bodies of water or cannot find food because of frozen ground and snow cover. They also face dangers such as window collisions, errant hunters, oil spills, and lead contamination over feeding grounds.

Birds will be resuming migration in the spring. Generally, the latest small migrants to come through Chicago in the fall are the earliest migrants to pass through in the spring. We basically see the species arrive in the reverse order that they left in the fall. Look for American Woodcocks in the spring as they will signal the beginning of migration.

We'll still see birds during the winter. Some of these have migrated from north of here and Chicago is part of their winter grounds. Others are year-round residents.

Bye bye birdies and safe travels.

Let the Rut Begin

Posted on 10 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Warning to all drivers - watch out for those White-tailed Deer. You see, White-tailed Deer are now in rut. Rut, which is triggered by shorter photoperiod days, is mating season and that means that bucks only have one thing on their minds! They aren't watching for your car headlights, but rather they are in pursuit of a doe and thinking of little else!

Rut, in addition to corresponding to mating season, also corresponds to a large number of automobile/deer collisions. Not only are bucks pursuing does at all costs, but many of you are commuting home from work after dark. These two factors form a deadly combination.

Please be extra careful when driving. Drive slowly and follow safe driving practices like scanning the road ahead. If you see one deer cross the road in front of you, please assume that there could be more to follow....

If you are unfortunate enough to hit a deer, it is your obligation to report it to the police just as you would with any vehicular accident. Sadly, a majority of White-tailed Deer injured in vehicular accidents must be euthanized due to the nature of their injuries. If a deer is injured, you may contact us or refer your law enforcement office to us for an injury assessment.

The Beauty of Silent Flight

Posted on 7 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

She flew silently into the night without much deliberation. She landed in a nearby tree and disappeared. We hoped that she would reveal her location by a soft trill or whinney, two Eastern Screech Owl vocalizations, but we heard nothing except the rustle of leaves.

Another American Bittern Successfully Rehabilitated

Posted on 5 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Today we released an American Bittern to continue its migration southward. This was the first of five American Bitterns admitted to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation thus far during fall migration. He suffered from a fracture to the left radius (bone in the wing). The wing healed and he was ready to continue his journey.

American Bitterns, an endangered species in Illinois, spend their summers in much of Canada and the northern United States. Their wintering grounds include the southern reaches of the United States and Central America. According to Cornell Department of Ornithology, they generally migrate alone or in pairs.

American Bitterns have a reputation for being very secretive. They stand among reeds and blades of tall grass and hold their heads up with their bills pointed skyward camouflaging themselves as grass. In this position, they can be very difficult to see. You can see this nicely illustrated in one of the photos we took of the subject American Bittern following his release.

Anyway, I digress....

So this American Bittern flew to the nearby reeds and tall grass and camouflaged himself. He hung out for awhile and then continued his migration. One more injured bird that gets another chance. We wish him a long and safe life.

In case you're interested, while we've released three of the American Bitterns arriving this fall, it looks like the other two will miss migration. Once healed, our options will be to overwinter them or to ship them south to their wintering territory. One of these birds suffered from a fractured femur (leg bone) while the second has a fractured wrist (wing bone).

Dog Attacked Mallard Survives

Posted on 5 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Today we released a young Mallard Duck that had been attacked by a dog a few weeks prior and brought to Flint Creek Wildlife by Arlington Heights Animal Control. Upon admission, the duck had puncture wounds on her neck and chest.

She relished the moment by bathing happily.