GIVE WILDLIFE A SECOND CHANCE
Rescued Northern Saw-Whet Owl on the Road to Recovery
In mid-spring, we received a Northern saw-whet owl that had fallen victim to a cat attack. Unfortunately, the owl had sustained cuts and puncture wounds on its wing, leaving it unable to properly move its wing. Upon intake it was clear this little one was in quite a bit of pain, so she was started on pain meds to keep her more comfortable and her punctures were treated with unpasteurized honey which has an antimicrobial effect that helps fight infected wounds. At first she was tweezer fed but eventually started eating on her own, and the funny thing was, we found she only liked to eat mice with dark fur! Even wildlife can be picky about their food choices!
After three weeks in our care, this teeny owl was ready to go back to the wild.
Did you know that saw-whet owls are only about seven inches long and have a wingspan of approximately 16 inches? Despite their small size, they are skilled hunters of insects, small rodents, and even other birds, and are crucial to our ecosystems.
As a native North American species, they are truly remarkable creatures.
Swainson’s Hawk: Injury, Surgery, and Release
Young birds of prey in the Calgary area face a unique challenge during the fall season. As they learn to fend for themselves, these birds can often be spotted near busy roads in search of prey, putting them at risk of being hit by passing cars. Unfortunately, this was the case for a Swainson's hawk this September. Fortunately, a member of the public spotted the accident and the hawk was able to get into our care quickly. Once on site, it was clear the raptor sustained a fracture to the leg. Not all injuries sustained by wildlife are able to be treated, but luckily our team never shies away from a challenge. Our on-site veterinary technician performed radiographs, and our attending veterinarian performed surgery to stabilize the fracture with pins. After a month of rest and healing, the pins were removed, and the hawk was moved to an outdoor flight pen to regain its strength, practice its flight, and prepare for release back into the wild. After more than a month in care, this stunning Swainson's hawk was released back to the wild where it belongs.
A Unique Case: A Muskrat's Journey to Recovery and Release
At Calgary Wildlife, we had the pleasure of caring for a remarkable muskrat who sought refuge with us during the harsh winter months. This resilient creature was admitted after a distressing encounter with a dog, resulting in significant wounds and an eye injury. Over the course of an extensive 183-day rehabilitation period, our dedicated team encountered unforeseen challenges in the recovery process. Despite these complications, our expert care and meticulous monitoring ensured a successful recovery, ultimately preparing him for release at the end of April. As we bid farewell to our guest, we took pride in knowing that the muskrat was returning to the wild, back to his semi-aquatic lifestyle, ready to contribute to the local ecosystem by consuming various water plants and helping maintain the waterways' vitality.
Muskrats, Ondatra zibethicus, are fascinating creatures with unique adaptations that make them well-suited to their aquatic habitats. These semi-aquatic rodents possess waterproof fur and can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes, utilizing their webbed hind feet for efficient swimming. Remarkably, muskrats build dome-shaped lodges or construct burrows along the water's edge, creating intricate living spaces. Known for their territorial behavior, muskrats are also prolific breeders, with a potential to have several litters of kits in a single year. Their herbivorous diet, consisting of aquatic plants, roots, and stems, not only sustains them but also plays a crucial role in shaping and preserving wetland ecosystems. The successful rehabilitation and release of our muskrat exemplify the dedication and expertise of Calgary Wildlife in ensuring the welfare of our wildlife neighbours.
Ferruginous Hawk: From Nestlings to Release
This summer, we took in three orphaned ferruginous hawk nestlings from Drumheller, after it was suspected their mother was electrocuted on a power line. These birds are prairie-dwelling raptors and are endangered in Alberta due to habitat loss, making their safe return to the wild imperative. Two of the babies grew to have a rare colour mutation called a dark morph, which causes dark plumage. After plenty of food, enrichment, and dedicated care, all three siblings were released back to the wild after 52 days with us.
Ferruginous hawks are one of the largest species of hawks in North America. They have a wingspan of roughly 4 feet and weigh around 4 pounds. These birds are known for their long legs and powerful talons, which they use to catch their prey. They primarily eat small mammals, such as ground squirrels and prairie dogs, and thus are an important part of the prairie ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations low.
A Heron's Journey: From Injury to Recovery and Release
This summer, Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society admitted an emaciated great blue heron with a severely swollen wing, adorned with numerous puncture wounds from fishing line entanglement. X-rays revealed the extent of the damage, prompting the need for additional measures. The injured wing was carefully splinted to provide stability and initiate the healing process. In those critical first weeks, the heron’s state was touch and go, but once stable treatment and physiotherapy became crucial not only for the puncture wounds but also for the overall well-being of the heron. As the dedicated team worked diligently, the heron's wing gradually recovered, and his physique strengthened. Once his wing had healed, the heron was transferred to Calgary Wildlife’s largest flight pen, equipped with a pond, which allowed for extensive flying practice, further fostering the heron's rehabilitation. After nearly two months in care, the heron was released back into the wild in Kananaskis where he had been found, completing a remarkable journey from injury to recovery and release.
Porcupette Patient's Painful Beginnings End Up With Positive Endings
At the beginning of May, we were notified about a tiny injured porcupette who was found on the side of the road clinging to his mom’s lifeless body. It was suspected his mom was hit by a car while trying to cross the highway. Orphaned at a young age and suffering from a broken arm, this porcupette required around the clock attentive care. Surgeries to fix his arm and bottle feeding every few hours for the first few months of his time with us. Since he’s been with us, he has thrived, growing into a bright and curious porcupine, foraging for his food and climbing like he’s been doing it for years! He will remain with us at Calgary Wildlife until the spring when he’ll be old enough and big enough to survive on his own.
"Bobbi" the Bobcat
Let us tell you about one of our most captivating cases of 2023 - the legendary "Bobbi the Bobcat" from the Chaparral community. This fierce feline managed to get her paw stuck in a Conibear trap, a trap that's purpose is to kill instantly, leaving her hobbling and in dire need of help. With some determination and skill, our team caught this wildcat and whisked her to Calgary Wildlife for some much-needed TLC. Bobbi underwent several surgeries and began her recovery journey in our care. As she regained her strength, her wild side emerged, making it clear she was not fond of any human closeness. This was music to our ears since it meant that Bobbi was still a true wildcat and would avoid human conflict whenever possible.
After a whopping 82 days under our watchful eye, Bobbi was ready to return to the wild. We released her in a monitored area, feeling proud of the work we do in keeping the balance between nature and human life.
A Badger's Incredible Recovery: From Near Death to a Bright Future
At the beginning of September, we welcomed a badger into care, after he was found injured on a roadside. Suffering from dehydration, fleas, malnutrition, and a leg fracture, it was a difficult journey towards healing. Following a procedure to set the fracture, this patient has thrived. With plenty of meals and enrichment opportunities, the badger will continue to gain strength until he can be released back to his natural habitat. Badgers play a crucial role in our prairie habitat, by digging burrows which other wildlife such as the endangered swift fox and burrowing owl use. Please consider making a donation to help wildlife like this badger get the help they need to get back to the wild where they belong.