Monday, December 26, 2011

Angels falling from the sky...........

Well there has been some strange goings on the last couple of weeks in Utah. We had a later than normal migration of Grebes, mostly Eared, but we saw some Westerns as well. The 'regular' migration was pretty much over. But one late large migration made national news, unfortunately.
Near Cedar City Utah, which is south of us, a group of over 5,000 came down in a Walmart parking lot, killing over 1,500 of them. These strange occurrences happen frequently, usually during snow or rain. During a snow storm, they can ice-over and this sends them to the ground and since Grebes migrate at night, their view of wet pavement looks similar to a lake. Think about it, a large area void of any trees or other land markers and with all the bright parking
lights, the wet ground reflects like water. These birds land in lakes as they are completely helpless on land, so they are always looking for water while migrating. Once they are on the ground, they are stuck. Some become injured in the 'landing' while others just need to be put onto a large body of water. These birds take a long 'run' before they can get air born, just like a jet vs. a helicopter.

The way this was handled by our states' wildlife agency made this terrible situation even worse. People with no medical background decided to put the surviving birds, even injured ones, onto water saying 'people couldn't help them'. Really? We rehabilitators do just that. We have that background to know what can or cannot be done and we were never asked to assist in this situation. We are wildlife rehabilitators for the State of Utah and none of us even received a phone call. Shame on you DWR! There needs to be a plan put into place, when things like this happen, that professionals can intervene and help determine what can be done to help the injured.
There needs to be a plan in place to work through these situations, involving wildlife rehabilitators since we are the ones qualified to determine what can and cannot be repaired well enough to survive in the wild. These are highly stressed birds and the handling they received was terrible.

No, this would not have been an easy task to work through, but none of what we rehabilitators do is easy.
You should have seen the video taken of these guys throwing the birds into a lake from a cardboard box, with no regard to how they landed. These birds were hitting each other, landing on top of one another and the public is watching this on the news channels. Embarrassing. Then a spokesperson goes on speaking that this is what is best for the birds....and we wonder why the general public thinks the way that they do regarding injured wildlife, thinking "oh, it's no big deal, anyone can do it". Well no wonder when they see stories like that on the news......ARGH! Birds with broken wings being thrown into a lake with clearly no chance of leaving that lake, ever!
It's an insult to our profession and our expertise. These DWR people don't have a clue about what we do and what is possible in the field of wildlife medicine. While these events will happen again and again, the devastation of these situations doesn't need to be made worse at the hands of people our wildlife is suppose to be being watched out for.
We received several Grebes during and after this large migration. Already having snow falling here in Utah, Grebes were being found, a few here and there throughout the state.

I've posted some of the photo's of these fallen angels and they were all successfully released throughout the state where we could find open water, once we determined they had no injuries.


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Feathered brothers and sisters, you came to us broken and as you bled…….we saw you desperate, dehydrated, desiccated, diseased, distressed, emaciated, famished, frayed, frightened, helpless, hungry, ragged, ravenous, shaken, shocked, shot, sickly, stressed, stunned, tattered, thirsty, traumatized, torn, weary and wounded. Defiantly, you stood us off with your last breath as we tried to tend to you. We saw you come in as cute, naked, fuzzy, cuddly youth, as mischievous, defiant adolescents, as fierce, regal rulers of the sky and as cunning, maimed elders whose time on earth was almost done. You endeared yourselves to us, bit us, charmed us, footed us, delighted us, hissed at us, talked to us, mantled at us, and graced us with your presence.

Some of you mended and were able to go on your way, never looking back. Some of you were injured in ways that prevented you from going, so you stayed with us to teach us…….And we came to love you. Others were too far gone, and you went home - where you fly free from pain with the Great One. All of you have touched us, and we are changed because of you.

used with permission by Arlene Powers