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13 October 2005 @ 12:23 pm
My wild adventure  
Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing something I hadn't done in years – volunteer at one of the local wildlife rescue places. An acquaintance and former coworker has volunteered at Birds of Prey for several years. We have had many chats regarding our rehab work over the years, and she had given me a call asking if I could cover her shifts while she was out of the country. Could I come this week so she could show me around?

While it had been quite a while since I had done such work, Deirdre was well aware of my background and training in the area. My brother and I grew up doing wildlife rehab as my mother was quite involved with the then fledgling Missouri Wildlife Rescue. Starting back in the day when it was animals in Suzie's garage and often times under my bed.

It was a pleasure to spend a little time with the animals. Within just a few minutes of my arrival one of the state wildlife officers brought in an Osprey . They are amongst the largest and most magnificent of North American birds of prey, with a wingspan which can reach up to 6 feet on the females and some *serious* talons to enable them to maintain their grasp on their diet of slippery fish. Unfortunately this beautiful female was so ill and weak she docilely allowed us to handle her with nothing more that a towel wrapped 'round. She didn't even protest when they tubed her. It was evident that she had been down for some time and was in dire need of rehydration and warmth in the incubator. I should call later today and see if she made it through the night.

After the excitement of the newest patient, it was back to the meat and potatoes of wildlife rehab – cleaning cages. Dirty, grubby, grunt work, but oh so necessary. My assignment was some of the outside flight cages, housing the Peregrine Falcons and the Sawletts. While out with the falcons one of them alighted briefly on my head, but thankfully did not take a grip. The Sawletts are so cute, but they had been fussy and left the majority of their mice from the morning. I wielded the hose, rake, and clean-up bucket like a pro, managing to get the task done in a reasonable amount of time.

It was a bit amusing in some ways. While Deirdre was confident in my abilities, the other folks kept a close eye on me. Whenever someone new comes in to a rehab situation there's always a question, no matter what their supposed background is. They later joked they stopped worrying when I 'didn't ask for gloves to protect those pretty nails' and were sure I was okay when I cleaned the rats without blinking an eye.

Up next was preparing raptorliscious meals.. Earlier I had quickly plucked a couple of quail for the Cooper's Hawk and had been putting mice out for the smaller raptors as I cleaned up, but now it was time for the real thing. Deirdre gave me a brief refresher, the shears, a pair of scissors, and several rats. Not the most fun of tasks, but I hadn't lost my mad sk1lz and had the rats skinned and gutted in good time. I did discover that the baby barn owls do not appreciate the extent of my abilities and prefer their rattie heads with the fur on thankyouverymuch.

I had also donated a couple of my award winning skeins to the silent auction this Saturday, and I'm hoping they bring in at least $100. Hopefully the display with all of their big ribbons and such will help drive the price up some.

Such a fun afternoon. I'm really looking forward to doing more work out there.

-the redhead-
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