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ATW Newsletter, September 2020

Paws 'N Claws

News from All Things Wild Rehabilitation, Inc. 
What's in this issue:

Breakfast with Carmen
What's in a Name
Wildlife Education is Our Priority
Check Out Our First Promotional Video
Wildlife Rehabilitation Virtual Symposium
Donate to Support All Things Wild Rehabilitation!
Breakfast with Carmen
by Nicole Duarte
 
 

Each morning for the past few weeks, I’ve joined Carmen for breakfast. We eat outside in a hollow next to the moss green river, among thigh-high grasses and trees tall and merciful enough to shield us from the most brutal of the Texas sun’s late-summer rays. Carmen has a particular passion for cheese, which amuses me greatly because Carmen is a fox. 
 
Her situation wasn’t ideal. She came to All Things Wild a couple of months into the pandemic, a fist-sized, dark brown ball bearing only mild resemblance to the adult gray fox she’d eventually become. Her eyes still shut, she had several weeks of milk dependency ahead of her. She entered the center as an “only”—an orphan lacking brothers and sisters to grow up with. In the best-case scenario, orphaned fox kits are raised in nature-mimicking enclosures with as little human contact as possible. However, different issues arise for kits (and other animal babies) raised alone without meaningful contact with a mother or other orphaned fox babies. Because there were no such babies around this spring to assume the role of surrogate kin, Carmen came to my farm, where she could at least grow up in the country with my pets as non-human playmates while being prepared for a life in the wild by a trained and sub-permitted wildlife rehabilitator.
 
 
Initially, I raised Carmen in the house with my dogs and cats, similar to the way I’ve raised the many foster puppies who’ve passed through my home. But Carmen was no puppy. In a matter of weeks, she morphed into the most agile, athletic creature I have ever encountered. A popular expression says that foxes are dog hardware running on cat software, and gray foxes are the most cat-like of all given their unique (to the canid family) ability to climb. And climb, Carmen did. The sofas. The countertops. Me and my son, with zero regards for whether we were wearing shorts or long pants at the time. 

As Carmen grew older, we worked on her hunting skills. She was a natural with bugs, pouncing without a second of hesitation on the first beetle on whom she ever laid eyes. Predictably, she grew even more skillful over time. When she tried out her hunting skills on one of my free-range hens (unsuccessfully, I’m happy to say), it was clear that the young fox was ready to move on to the next stage of her training.
 
 
I released her in the hollow by the river, a perfect habitat—tall grasses where she can hide, shade trees offering respite from the three-digit heat, and hundreds of adjoining acres to roam with other wildlife. Though ready for release, she is still young to be totally self-sufficient, which occurs at around six months of age for the average gray fox. So, I visit her every day to supplement her food until she can supply all of her own needs. She comes out when I call her (but hides if she sees or hears anyone else in the area). After she eats, we explore one of the many game trails around her hollow or hang out down by the river so she can drink from the puddles along the water’s edge. Some days, we sit quietly on the trunk of a fallen tree and wait for other wildlife to appear, including several gray foxes who frequent the area, one of whom may end up one day as Carmen’s lifelong mate. 
 
Watching Carmen grow up in her natural habitat with the other wildlife has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never, ever forget. I wish that Carmen hadn’t lost her real family, but once she did, I’m grateful to have been the one given the chance to be her surrogate mom.

 
 
About the Author:  Nicole Duarte is an attorney who has worked in wildlife rehabilitation for four or five years, specializing in skunks. Carmen was her first, but hopefully not last, fox to rehabilitate.

For more information on gray foxes, CLICK HERE. 
What's in a Name


Common Nighthawk                Photo Google Images
 
There’s a family of birds with a very strange name:  nightjars.  The word "night," because they are mostly active at night, but ’jar,’ where does that come from?  And then, to make things even stranger, one of the bird species found in the nightjar family is called a nighthawk.  And the bird isn’t a hawk, a term we use for birds of prey.
 
According to etymonline.com, a nighthawk is: a short-billed nocturnal bird, goatsucker, the 1620s, from night + jar (v.). So-called for the "jarring" sounds made by the male when the female is brooding, which has been described as a "churring trill that seems to change direction as it rises and falls." An Old English word for it was nihthræfn "night raven."
 
Nighthawks are related to Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-wills-widows.  They spend days perched on tree branches, fence posts, or on the ground where they are so well camouflaged that they are hard to spot.  At dusk, they become active and can often be seen circling street lights grabbing flying insects in their giant mouths.   They have long, v-shaped wings that enable them to be excellent fliers.  And, if you are a wildlife rehabilitator and to get touch a nighthawk, you would find that their feathers are incredibly soft. 
 
ATW is fortunate to have an orphaned nighthawk fledgling who is absolutely the cutest and hungriest bird ever.  He (she?) eats 15-20 mealworms every hour opening that huge mouth and gulping down massive quantities of worms that are fed to him.  We don’t know whether he is a lesser or a common nighthawk, but he is definitely a cutie pie.

 

ATW's nighthawk gulping down a mealworm.
 
 
Wildlife Education is Our Priority
 

 
When the founders of All Things Wild Rehabilitation wrote the mission statement for the new nonprofit organization in October 2012, they put education before rehabilitation because they felt strongly that wildlife education is a priority.

The mission of All Things Wild Rehabilitation, Inc. is to promote respect and compassion for all wildlife through public education and awareness; to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, orphaned, and displaced wildlife and release them back into the appropriate habitat; and to provide sanctuary for all animals in need.

In 2012, the ATW rehabilitators were saving wild animals in their homes.  They dreamed of someday having an education center as well as a facility to rehabilitate sick, orphaned, and injured animals for return to the wild.  Since that time, ATW has had an active education program with volunteers and staff going out to various groups and schools to tell kids and adults about wild animals.  
 

Fast-forward 8 years after the founders put education before rehabilitation in the mission statement, and ATW is ready to build an education center next to the rehabilitation facility in Georgetown.  We envision the center to be a place where education programs can be held for audiences of all ages from young children to senior citizens.  Everyone attending an ATW education program will not only learn about various species of wild animals but also how to co-exist with wild animals and stay safe while respecting and treating the animals with kindness and compassion.   With the education center next door to the rehabilitation facility, it will be easier and less stressful for our ambassador animals to participate in the programs.
 
We are beginning the fund drive to raise money for the new building. We estimate that construction, furnishings, and equipment will cost $75,000.  However, once completed, we will have a 900 square-foot space with state-of-the-art audio/visual capability where kids and adults can learn about wildlife, nature, and conservation.

Here's a rough sketch of our vision.

 

All Things Wild Rehabilitation, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit.  All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code.

If you wish to donate specific
ally to the ATW Education Center, please indicate in the message section of Paypal at http://allthingswildrehab.org/donate/ or send us an email at allthingswildrehab@gmail.com letting us know about your donation for the education center.  You can also mail a check to All Things Wild Rehabilitation, PO Box 995, Georgetown, TX 78627.  Thank you!

Finally, if you are interested in a virtual education program for your group, please contact Roger Rucker at rogerrckr@gmail.com.
Check Out Our First Video!
 

 
Each year, ATW participates in the State Employee’s Charitable Campaign (SECC), which provides Texas State employees an opportunity to donate to charities through payroll deduction.  In the past, we have had an opportunity to visit the various state agencies during “Charity Fairs” to talk about the wonderful work that ATW does and hope the employees sign up to donate to help the animals.   However, this year, because of you-know-what, there will be no Charity Fairs.  Instead, the SECC staff asked everyone to submit a 90-second video that will be posted on the SECC web site and available to the State employees when deciding where to donate.
 

Here’s our first-ever promotional video, put together with videos and photos taken by Sue Puetz and the video artistry of Linda Nickell. We hope you enjoy it.  And, if you work for the State, or know anyone who does, please remember that All Things Wild Rehabilitation is one of the charities participating in the SECC and needs your support  
Wildlife Rehabilitation Virtual Symposium

 
Heroes 4 Wildlife, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting wildlife rehabilitation centers, is presenting an online symposium of classes on wildlife rehabilitation topics on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27.  Topics include skunks, baby songbirds, snakes/turtles, turkey vultures, owlets, waterfowl, zoonoses, anesthesia, wound management, designing enclosures, nutrition, and much, much more.
 
Discounts are available for wildlife rehabilitation center staff, students, and early-bird registration. Click here for more information.
 
Donate now to save wild animals!
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