Living near the forest as we do, we have a fair amount of wildlife around us: birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes and who knows what else. So what happens if you’re suddenly responsible for a small, injured creature?
Today I found out, when I volunteered as an ambulance for a Green Heron. You take it to WildCare in San Rafael (at 76 Albert Park Lane, San Rafael, CA 94901).
Actually, first you find out if it actually needs help:
- Call Wildcare at 415-456-7283 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- If it’s after 5pm PST (Pacific Standard Time), call their 24-hour Nightline at 415-300-6359.
- Read their very informative page.
Then you decide if you should take it in. It’s a long drive, but you might save a critter’s life.
They’re open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year, and they have a wildlife hospital. They try to rehabilitate the animal or bird, and release it back to the area it was picked up. (California law does not permit relocation of wildlife.)
It’s a pleasant place, just across a little creek, which has tree-lined banks and a resident duck population. The courtyard is lined with cages, enclosing birds that cannot be released, usually because they have a disability that prevents them from fending for themselves. It also has a pond with a couple of resident pelicans (one brown, one white), a sea-gull, and an egret that may just have been visiting.
The Green Heron had flown into someone’s living room, and been brought to the Randall Museum. Though they do have an animal room, they don’t do wildlife rehabilitation, so the bird needed to go to Wildcare. [ETA: Wildcare sent an emailed update: “The Green Heron was suffering from wounds and I see a note of a fracture. I see from the log book that it was transported to International Bird Rescue up in Fairfield on the 7th. IBRRC have the facilities best suited to shore
birds and one of our fantastic volunteers gave the Heron a ride up there.”]
I took a photo of it, then dropped it off, and spent a few minutes looking round at the denizens of the courtyard. (Visitors are welcome.) The birds were beautiful – a Swainson’s hawk, a spotted owl, and a turkey vulture among others.
Each was accompanied by naturalist’s notes. They were all informative, but my favorite may have been the one by the turkey vulture. “Don’t be surprised to see a melon in here with our Turkey Vulture,” it said. “Although they eat carrion, they do like a change once in a while. In fact, there have been cases where large numbers of Turkey Vultures have descended on a pumpkin patch.”
The image was irresistible, especially in this season.