Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gazehound's Animal Communication News: July/August 2008

*July/August 2008

Keeping in touch with the animals....
and the people who love them


     (diverging a bit from the usual topics....)

Wild things, with few exceptions, wish to remain wild.  I've had a lot of opportunity since beginning to volunteer with New York Wildlife Rescue Center to communicate ... and commune ... with wild animals.  I've also run into quite a few situations where wild things were in need of help ... and a good number where well-meaning humans thought the wild things were in need of help, when they actually were perfectly fine.

I've been taking in songbirds, little babies who need to eat every twenty minutes. 
Since I work from home, and can keep up the rigorous feeding schedule, I was asked to volunteer for this aspect of our rehabilitation program.  I'm currently working under the mentorship of several of our local bird experts,  and will be applying for my federal migratory bird permit as soon as it's feasible to do so.  I was happy to take on these little featherlings, as I've always been an amateur birder at heart.  I currently have in my home two starlings, an english sparrow, a cowbird and a goldfinch. 

For the most part, the little birds who have come to me have been real rescues ... in that they would not possibly have survived on their own for one reason or another.  Occasionally, however, one comes in that almost definitely would have had a better chance of thriving if left alone ... simply because the kind-hearted human involved didn't fully understand the ways and needs of wild birds.  Here's a little quiz for you (don't worry, I won't be grading it) just to test your wild bird savvy:

A baby bird, who has mostly grown all its feathers, has fallen out of a nest.  You are very concerned, in part because you, or your neighbor, has an outdoor cat.  The right thing to do is:
  1. Rescue the baby immediately and remove it from the area.  Then take the baby inside and try feeding it right away.
  2. Remove the baby from the area and call a wildlife rehabilitator to tend the baby, because of course each species is different and you don't know the correct food for this little bird.
  3. Leave the little bird alone and observe it from a distance for a while before taking any action.
  4. Bring your cat inside and/or ask the neighbor to do the same if possible.
Okay, it was a loaded question, of course, and I'm sure it doesn't take much thinking to figure out that number three is the correct answer ... with number four a really smart bonus point.

Many people simply don't realize that all baby birds actually have to "fall out of the nest" to some extent or other.  It's how they learn to fly, to survive, and to, well ... be birds.  The vast majority of the time, the parents will be watching the baby from the trees and bushes, and flying back and forth to bring it food, all the while showing it how to hunt for itself, what foods to eat, how to get itself to safety and, yes, even how to avoid cats.  There is no better teacher for a baby bird, than its parents.   And there is no way, no matter how hard we may try, a wildlife rehabilitator, even after years of experience, can teach these things properly to a little bird.  By removing the bird from its parents, that baby's chances of long term survival are reduced considerably.  If you find a fledgling like this on the ground, watch for the parents from a distance, keep your house predators closed up (even if they complain), and observe.  It's almost definite that you'll see the parents come to feed it soon, and within a day or so the baby will have found its wings and followed Mom and Pop safely into the trees.

Likewise, nestlings:  There is a widely held belief that if you touch a baby bird and return it to the nest, the parents will smell human scent on the baby and reject it.  Not true ... in fact most birds have pretty poor senses of smell (with the interesting exception of vultures).  If it's possible to return a fallen nestling (a baby with few feathers) to the nest, please try your best to do so.  If the nest has fallen, secure it to a branch nearby if you don't know its original location, and put the babies back in it.  If it's impossible, or you cannot find the nest, try making one out of a plastic strawberry basket or other container that drains well, lined with twigs and grasses, and place that in a secure spot near where you found the baby.  The parents will come take care of it.

Only if there is little chance of survival ... if the parents do not return within a couple of hours, if the bird is injured, or if it is hypothermic and dehydrated (baby birds are warm to the touch ... if not, they're in trouble), should you remove it from the wild.  In that case, call your vet and ask for the number of a local rehabilitator, for little birds need special care (and besides, most species are protected by the Migratory Bird Act so only someone with a special permit can legally care for them).

Just as with birds, most baby mammals are also fine as long as the parents haven't been killed, or they are injured in some way.  Did you know that mother deer leave their fawns in hiding for hours at a time as they graze and browse, only returning to them to nurse them?  A fawn wandering in your garden has probably just disobeyed Mamma, and will be found in short order by its mother and returned to hiding.  Removing the fawn from the area removes it from its best caretaker.

Or did you know that baby rabbits are only tended by their mother twice a day?  At dawn and dusk, mother bunny will return and nurse her offspring, leaving them alone in the nest for the rest of the day.  If you find a nest of "abandoned" baby rabbits, it is almost definite that they haven't been "abandoned" at all.

If you love wildlife, there are many things you can do to help your feathered and furred wild neighbors.  Reading and learning is always a good start, of course, and there are many great books on the library shelves, wildlife and nature centers of some sort in almost every community, and then, of course, there is the web!  Every state has the equivalent of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and most have websites online.  You can of course be helping wild animals as you're learning, by putting up feeders, nest houses and bird baths, maintaining your yard and garden with plenty of shelter and nest sites, keeping the wild areas around your home clean, monitoring your outdoor dogs and cats....  I'm sure you can add to the list! 

But if you find a little one, do make sure it truly needs help before interfering.  There is no better caretaker for a baby bird or animal than its Mamma, after all.

Some Links:

NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Volunteers for Wildlife




I receive so many requests for book suggestions, for which I normally send people to my website's "Introduction" page and recommended reading list, that I've decided to take it a step further and make it easier for people to get more information, read reviews, and shop right from my site if they wish.  I've added an Animal Communication Book Shop to the website.  It can be accessed as an external link from the Gazehound.com front page and the main Animal Communication page, and on the "Introduction" page (reached by the button of that name in the side menu), the shop itself is built right into an inset at the bottom of the page.  I hope you find this a convenient way to research and review books on animal communication, as well as a number of other topics such as positive training, natural pet care, and "good for the human soul" sections.

Don't forget that you can keep up with changes and info on rates, policies, and "other fun stuff" on my website:  www.gazehound.com, and that you can find archives of this newsletter and other articles on my Creature Thoughts Blog: gazehound.blogspot.com.   

Gift Certificates: 

I always have gift certificates available, whether you would like to give them to friends and family, or whether you'd simply like to purchase them for your own animal friends.  These are available at the regular session rate of $30/half hour session. There is, however, a special rate for anyone who orders three or more at one time. Ordering 3 or more gift certificates will reduce the cost per session to the "old" individual session rate of $25/session. Therefore one Gift Certificate will be $30, two will be $60, but three will be available for $75, with increments of $25 per certificate over three.  Gift certificates are non-returnable, and they are valid for one full year from the purchase date.  Once payment is received, your gift certificates will be sent via email as a PDF attachment (Acrobat Reader required to open and print) unless otherwise requested, so be sure I have a correct e-dress for you.

Email me at  allcreatures@gazehound.com for more information or to order.

Important Policy Update:
Well, this is not actually a change, simply a more strict enforcement of a policy already in place.  Due to several recent situations, I will from now on be strictly enforcing my policy of not offering follow-ups until the account is up to date on payments, unless the client already has a history of being reliable and faithful to their word.  This will encompass all aspects of my services, including missing animal cases.

In addition, for an indefinite period of time, I will not be accepting missing animal cases from new clients.  Existing clients may call me for a lost pet, and those will be taken on a selective case by case basis. 

Want To Help Our Wild Friends?
Northeast Llama Rescue and Barnyard Sanctuary and New York Wildlife Rescue accept paypal donations through their website at http://www.redmaplefarm.net.  Thank you!

Permission is given to forward this newsletter to anyone you feel might enjoy it.  If this newsletter has been forwarded to you and you would like to subscribe, just visit the newsletter link below.


Gayle Nastasi
Animal Communication Consultant
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