This is a good week for swans! The mute swan that came to us with a fishing hook in his beak has, happily, been released. He made a complete recovery after just a few days and was put back to where he was originally found this weekend. Another mute swan we have right now came in weak with malnutrition, and he has been doing excellently. We plan to release him this Wednesday, a few days after the end of his treatment course so that we can make sure he is really eating fine on his own and is firmly back in good condition.
Malnutrition is a common affliction among the wildlife that comes to us at the Center. It is so ubiquitous because it is a generic symptom for many different problems. An animal will suffer from malnutrition if it is not absorbing the essential nutrients that it needs to survive. These nutrients are normally derived from the animal’s diet, and so predictable the main reason that animals are malnourished is that they are not eating a sufficient amount of food. This is commonly due to a bacterial or viral infection weakening them to the point that they are unable to find food, due to toxicity from some kind of poison or heavy metal, or due to an injury that limits their mobility.
An animal can be eating immense amounts of food and still be malnourished however. This is less common, but usually a result of parasites or intestinal damage. Parasites can infest an animal and leech away the nutrients from the food that it eats, so that no matter how hungry it is and how much the animal consumes it will still slowly starve. Intestinal damage has similar affects, and results most commonly from toxicity or infection. For example, when an animal has lead poisoning its villi can be permanently damaged. Villi are the small structures on the surface of the intestinal walls that actually absorb nutrients from the food animals consume. When they are damaged, no matter how much food passes through the animal cannot extract the nutrients it needs.
Fortunately, our mute swan did not have any permanent damage. After having his diet supplemented with specially formulated food for nutritionally deficient patients and receiving supplemental vitamin injections for a few weeks, he is eating normally and back to good body condition. His release on Wednesday will be an exciting event for us all.
Recently we had a Red-tailed Hawk come to us dehydrated, with a pronounced right wingdroop, and likely with a concussion. After doing wildlife medicine for awhile, there are some things you start to look for in certain types of cases. When we get a bird with the symptoms of a concussion or some other not easily visible injury preventing them from flying, it is very likely that they struck something while in flight. Often this can lead to easily treatable bruising and inflammation, although it does sometimes leave the bird with fractures or internal bleeding.
In order to get a better idea of what we were dealing with, the next step was to use more advanced diagnostic tools than a physical exam. First on the list was an X-ray, in order to search for a cause behind the wingdroop. The hawk’s X-rays all came back normal, with no signs of any broken bones or other issues. This couldn’t rule out a potential infection however, and so we still needed to draw blood and analyse it. This test, however, also came back normal, and so Dr. Adamski proscribed anti-inflammatory medicine for the concussion and likely inflammation of the wing, and had the wing wrapped to the hawk’s body in a tight bandage to prevent it from moving around too much.
After two weeks of treatment, his neurologic symptoms had subsided and his wingdroop was gone. As he showed no other signs of illness or injury and had been eating normally, we took him outside of the Center for a basic flight test. It is important when releasing birds to make sure that they are able to achieve both vertical and horizontal lift, meaning they can fly both horizontally and vertically in relation to the ground. When one of our interns released him from the towel he had been wrapped in, he shot off into the air and flew immediately to a perch on a nearby tree. Having thus proven his ability to gain altitude and sustain flight, we left him to fly off into the distance. Here is a video of his initial release and flight test.
This is a common snapping turtle that came to us with fractured lower and upper jaws after being hit by a car. Surgery on a snapping turtle can be difficult, because our preferred method of anesthesia, Isoflurane, requires the animal to breath it in to be effective. Snapping turtles, living underwater, can hold their breath for almost an hour at a time, and when we are holding a mask to his face trying to get him to breath the strangely smelling anesthesia solution he doesn’t particularly want to take a breath. Fortunately, we were able to intubate him. This means that we inserted a flexible plastic tube into his trachea, and then we pumped the Isoflurane directly into his lungs.
Dr. Adamski was able to successfully set his jaw using metal wires, surgical glue, and Play-doh. The Play-doh, while slightly unorthodox, works incredibly well to hold the wires in place around the jaw while the glue is drying. Reptile bones generally take between 4 and 6 months to heal, so we are hopeful that by the end of the winter he will be well on his way to recovery.
The next obvious problem was that to heal, he needed plenty of food, and to get food, he needed to hunt and eat fish. That was going to be difficult for him with a fractured and surgically splinted jaw, so we came up with a different approach. Dr. Adamski cut open the turtle’s neck and cut into his esophagus. He then inserted a red rubber tube, similar to the one used to intubate the turtle, into his esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach, allowing food to travel down after being swallowed. By putting a tube directly into the esophagus, we managed to skip the mouth phase of eating, and move the food directly into his stomach. He is fed blended fish, and when the tube is not in use it is secured to his back to it is not moving around and is out of his way.
The Night of a Thousand Faces is back!
When: Friday, October 25th and Saturday, October 26 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. The cost is $7 per person.
Where: New England Wildlife Center, 500 Columbian Street, South Weymouth, MA 02190 Phone: 781-682-4878
What: Walk the Nature Trails with Hundreds of Lit Pumpkins. Animal Presentations. Candy Apples. Cotton Candy. Celebrate Raccoons. Music.
Want to help Carve Pumpkins? Please give us a call – we need you – or just show up! Oct 21, 22, 23 and 24 from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm. You can also drop off carved pumpkins on those dates. There will be pumpkins here but you can also BYOP to carve – the more the better!
On August 1st 2013 the New England Wildlife Center’s hospital admitted a Canada Goose who was shot through the head with an archery arrow. He was rescued and transported to the New England Wildlife Center by the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The Canada Goose was alert and conscious, but he was malnourished and had no use of his jaw. Dr. Mertz successfully removed the arrow and packed the wound with surgical padding to prevent further necrosis of the skin. Fortunately, the arrow did not damage any major nerves or muscles in his face and he retained full mobility of his head and jaw. After three and a half weeks of rehabilitative care, medication and nutritional support he is healthy enough to be released back to the wild.
The release will take place at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at a pond near the Ellis Haven Camp Ground in Plymouth, MA . Katrina Bergman, the Center’s executive director said “We are particularly excited that the Canada Goose will be released back to the pond where his mate and goslings are. It is critical that we as a society protect the most vulnerable among us. Providing medical care to wildlife caught in harm’s way is just the right thing to do.”
The Center receives no tax payer funds and relies solely on individual donations. We are the only wildlife hospital and education center in the metro-Boston area. Please visit our front page to make a donation today! We need everyone’s help. Newildlife.org.
Last Friday, New England Wildlife Center received a particularly bizarre case from Plymouth….
This Canada goose was admitted after he was found with an arrow protruding from his head. Our veterinarians were able to remove the arrow without causing further damage to the goose. Since his surgery he has been put on a regiment of antibiotics and pain medications to prevent infection and to keep him comfortable. The wound is being treated using a wet-to-dry procedure which involves filling the wound with a paste that clings to debris inside the wound as it dries.
The paste is then pulled out which cleans the wound and aids in preventing infection. We are currently in the process of removing the paste today to check on the goose’s progress. We will be continuing this treatment for a few weeks until the wound has completely healed. The goose is strong and active, he is eating well and is starting to look healthier. We are cautiously optimistic that he will be released back into the wild once his injuries fully heal.
This story has caught a lot of attention and has been printed in multiple newspapers and given a segment on local news. If you wish to read, hear or watch these stories we have links to some of the articles here;
We are so happy to have such steadfast supporters. The Flatbread Company of Bedford is one of those wonderful supporters, who hosted a fundraiser for NEWC during the month of June. They raised a total of $574.00 which is amazing! On top of that we also got a neat tote bag with the NEWC logo on it, we always love getting these kind of things. It means so much to us that people donate their time and money, as this is what keep us in business. The Flatbread Company of Bedford has an amazing assortment of pizzas, you should really check them out and grab a bite to eat!
Today it is our pleasure to bring you something a little different, which was thought up by one of our interns, Makoto Yamamoto. Makoto is from Kyoto, Japan and is studying biology and drama at Tufts University. We welcomed him as an intern at the beginning of May. Makoto really enjoys his time at the center, describing it as “I am extremely proud to say that my first exposure to the field of veterinary medicine was through NEWC, and I recommend this internship without any hesitation”
Makoto attends a miming club at Tufts and has been practicing his skills for some time now. Once he shared this talent with us and came up with the idea to mime a “Raccoon Feeding” we knew we had something good. This light hearted video perfectly depicts the process an intern goes through during such feedings. We hope you enjoy it.
View the YouTube video Here!
Our weekend was filled with anticipation as we waited for construction to begin. The raptor flight pen and raccoon habitat started going up today, with the main supports being put into the ground. This project has been in the works for several months and was designed by Svey Strekalovsky. The project contractor is Ken Ryder, owner of the contracting company Ryder Development, who is donating his time and talent to the project. The project would not be possible without Ken’s generous donation. New England Wildlife Center raised the money from private foundations to build the caging. The pens have some really cool aspects to them. The Raccoon habitat is going to include platforms staggered at different heights, with ways for the raccoons to walk platform to platform. These platforms act as stimulants which fuel the curiosity of raccoons and cater to their developmental and behavioral skills, which are necessary for successful release into the wild. The Raptor flight pen will be used to provide larger birds, including birds of prey, with 20′ x 60′ x 48′ (big) area to exercise and build up their stamina before release. We expect the construction to continue into September and will be providing updates as we get them.
New England Wildlife Center is proud to share some great news to our website. For some time now, Troop 81157 of the junior girl scouts located in East Bridgewater have been collecting material goods to donate to NEWC. Troop leader Kathy MacDonald and co-leader Rhonda DeChambeau organized the group of 15 girls into doing a variety of different activities, such as holding a candy bar raffle, to raise donations. These activities and donations are part of the troop’s Bronze Award Service Project. Their aspirations came to fruition on June 4th as Troop 81157 took a trip down to NEWC in order to drop off all the much needed items they have collected. Steve Martin, the director of our volunteer programs, was there to receive the amazing collection of goods. After many trips in and out of the Center, with hands full of donations, and after the last roll of paper towels had been delivered, the astounding total added up to almost $1000. Steve noted that this donation was, “one of the largest item donations we have ever had the pleasure of receiving in the past few years”. Consisting of almost every item on our wish list, the troop has gone above and beyond the call of service in order to make a real difference in the lives of all the animals treated at the Center. We want to thank them for their time, commitment and generosity.
It warms our hearts to see girls like this take it into their own hands to make a difference for a cause they care so much about. Every donation counts, large or small, and it is these donations that keep NEWC stocked and ready to provide care to the thousands of injured, orphaned and sick wild animals that enter through our doors every year. We are inspired to keep doing our best thanks to the generosity of our local community. Thank you again Troop 81157, you have made a difference!
Hi Friends, Our hospital is full for baby mammals and baby birds. We can’t take anymore babies until some of these guys get a little older. We are open for injured wildlife.
We will post here as soon as we can accept more babies.
Every animal deserves humane medical care. It is painful when we can’t accept an admission of an animal in need of help – especially when we are the only wildlife hospital in metro-Boston. Unfortunately, in order to provide the best care to the wild animals in the hospital and in order to comply with Massachusetts law, we have to close to admissions when we reach “bed” capacity.
There is a list of rehabbers on this site. These rehabbers fill up quickly too. There are millions of wildlife in need of care each year and no state or federal agency to care for them. New England Wildlife Center is a nonprofit started by your neighbors. Less than 1% of all donations to run the Center come from the individuals, agencies or municipalities that bring us wild animals in need of help, and by law, we aren’t allowed to charge.
The hospital is run by a veterinarian and a few technicians. We rely mostly on volunteers to operate. So, please be patient with us when we cannot accept an animal. It pains us as much as you. Together, we need to find a solution. Right now, there just isn’t enough help for our wild friends and it’s just not right.
Pictured is a baby Barred Owl. He came in this week and we were able to work with our friends at Trail Side Museum. They “re-homed” this baby and he is now in a nest with a foster mother and other chicks.
Next Tuesday the 21st from 6-9 the Center will debut the Museum of Bad Art’s latest exhibit “Mother Nature Abhors a Vacuum – and All Other Housework”. Pictured above is a work entitled “Birdbrain” which is just a sample of what’s to come. The exhibit is open to the public and will feature realistic and imaginary depictions of wildlife. Please Join us for free food, entertainment, and some of the best bad art you’ve ever seen! Hope to see you there!
This week an Osprey was admitted to our hospital after he suffered a gunshot wound to his right scapulo-humeral joint. He was found in Hanson, MA unable to fly and was brought into our facility by a concerned member of the public. He has been treated for trauma, is on antibiotics and is being given fluids. His progress has been slow but steady, and he continue to receive intensive care for his injuries. Thank you for your concern and support and we will keep you updated with his progress.
Come on down to New England Wildlife Center tomorrow morning -Saturday, April 20-
Starting at 10 am, come and ”Paint the Patients” with Eleanor Whitney. Eleanor is the Center’s volunteer resident artist. Join her in painting our windows with pictures of animals, the out-of-doors or anything else you can think of. Everyone is welcome…and it is free!
We’ve turned the corner into April and Baby season is beginning right on time. Each spring hundreds of species of wildlife in New England give birth to their young, and soon our hospital will be flooded with baby squirrels, raccoons, opossums, songbirds, eastern cottontails, and many other young critters. This means it’s all hands on deck for our hospital staff and interns who will be charged with administering meds, cleaning cages, and of course the round the clock feeding regiments.
“It is a lot of work, but it’s a great learning experience and working with baby animals has been very rewarding.”
says hospital Intern Sarah, who is currently perusing her Undergraduate degree from Boston University.
This spring and summer the Center will treat hundreds of sick, injured, and orphan babies, from all over New England and when they are ready we will release them back to their native environments. This is an especially exciting time of year for us and we encourage people to come tour our facility and learn about these little critters first hand. Thank you for your interest and support, and don’t forget to check our calendar for upcoming events and programs.
If You Find a Wild Animal check out this link for more information: http://wildlife-education-center.com/wildlife-care/what-to-do-if-you-find-a-wild-animal/
This a picture of Dr. Rob and the Interns caring for a Mute Swan that was admitted to our hospital after being recovered in Worcester. The Swan was doused in a hydrophobic substance, believed to be vegetable oil and was suffering from lead poisoning. Our best guess is that it came from a restaurant or food establishment in the area and was somehow discharged into a public waterway. This type of exposure is dangerous for aqutic birds because the oil breaks the natural water proofing of their feathers, and will cause them to become hypothermic this time of year. Additionally, when they preen themselves to try and get rid of the oil they end up ingesting a lot of it, which can be harmful. The lead poisoning is a separate issue and is common in many freshwater birds, but can be very serious if not treated right away.
Our staff repeatedly washed him with grease cutting soap and warm water to remove the oils and he was then given nutritional support and cage rest. He is also receiving chelation treatment to neutralize and remove the lead in his system. Today we are happy to report that he is doing well, and we will keep you updated on his progress.
Students from the South Shore Christian Academy in Weymouth explored the New England Wildlife Center today with Center science educator and legendary rock & roller, Safari Steve Martin. Here kids are handling natural objects in the nature center after learning from Steve that populations of horseshoe crabs are dwindling and the impact that may have on humans. Come on over to the Center….it’s fun here! :)
This Red-throated Loon made his way from Braintree to New England Wildlife Center this afternoon. A kind neighbor in Braintree found him by the side of the road, unable to fly. Dr. Rob says he looks OK. He found minor lacerations and abrasions on the Loon’s feet. Dr. Rob thinks that he most likely just lost his way and crash landed due to the storm. Once he hit the road, he was stuck. Loon’s need 20-30 feet of water surface runway to take-off. They aren’t designed to walk on land. You don’t see many of them around because they live off the coast. Our animal care team is treating the Loon with SQ fluids and providing nutritional support. Dr. Rob hopes that he will be released as soon as the storm is over. The Red-throated Loon is different from the Common Loon. We are so glad this guy is indoors and safe tonight!
We are in desperate need of paper towels to clean and disinfect our hospital. It takes several rolls each week to meet our cleaning, patient care, and bedding needs. All donations can be dropped off at the front desk with either Ian or Maryanne. Thank you for your support!
So as I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s getting pretty cold out there. Trees have dropped their leaves, the air has gone from crisp to bitter, grandmothers all over New England are furiously knitting warm sweaters, and of course, the birds have started their annual trip south for the winter. Well, the smart ones did anyways. So what of the many species of birds that don’t make the long trip, how do these foolhardy fowl deal with the winter cold?
In reality there are over a hundred species of birds that spend the winter in New England and thanks to a number of biological accommodations they fair just fine. As long as there is a food source, these guys can handle the harshest winter conditions without so much as a scarf.
The first thing that our feathered friends have going for them is their internal thermometer. Birds tend to have a very high normothermia, meaning that their average body temperature is much higher than us humans, in some species it’s been recorded as being as warm as 110 F. This gives them a bit of a buffer against the cold being as they are that much further from the hypothermic tipping point. Interestingly, this process is why it is so important to fill your bird feeders with suit and seeds during the winter. Maintaining such a high internal temperature is very energy-intensive and because birds have such a high metabolic rate they burn through their energy stores very quickly and need to constantly eat to maintain themselves.
Their second line of winter defense comes in their ability to trap heat in their feathers. As anyone who has ever put on a down jacket knows feathers have a way of keeping you nice and toasty. Many species will actually go through a late autumn molt and grow a set of even denser winter feathers that give them a little extra heat capacity. The way that their feathers are structured allows them to trap small pockets of heat directly against the their body and when it’s really cold they will even hunker down and tuck their heads and feet in for maximum heat retention.
Thirdly, Bird feet. Have you ever looked closely at a bird from the legs down? It’s like staring at a dinosaur, but these scaly trotters play an important role in keeping birds warm. Birds don’t have the benefit of wearing wool socks so they are left to perch all winter on icy snow covered surfaces in their bare feet, but thankfully they have a few adaptations to keep them comfortable. Unlike humans, their feet release very little of their internal heat to the outside world. Their lack of sweat glands means that they secrete no moisture, which means no evaporative cooling. Additionally, their legs are very simple in structure; there are not a lot of mussels, nerves, and arteries present, it is mostly bone and ligaments, which don’t release a lot of heat. Some birds, such as ducks, actually have a heat return mechanism built right into their legs. It’s known as a counter-current heat exchange, and essentially it means that the arteries that are present in the legs are right next to each other. This allows the cold blood returning from the feet to be warmed by the hot blood exiting the torso, which cuts down on energy that would be expended to re-heat the incoming blood flow.
So, these birds that wait out the winter here aren’t in as bad a shape as one might think. Evolution has provided them with a number biological defenses against the cold and they have a few behavioral tricks up their sleeves as well. Many birds will huddle together for warmth or find unfrozen bodies of water to swim in, guaranteeing them an environment above the freezing mark. Whatever individual techniques they employ the hundreds of birds that wait out the winter survive just fine and are left to scoff at all the fair weather species that fly the coop every time it gets cold.