Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Turkeys Run Afoul in San Jose

Since the holidays, Wildlife Emergency Services has received a number of calls about a turkey at large in San Jose - near 1st Street and the 880. Callers expressed concern for the welfare of the animal, worried that it might get hit by a car.

Yesterday, Duane and Rebecca went to investigate, and found there are, in fact, TWO wild turkeys - a young male (also referred to as a jake) and young female (a jenny).

They both appear to be in good health, though somewhat habituated.

While it's not uncommon to see wild turkeys wandering city streets and neighborhoods that border wildland, it is unusual to see them so deep within a city limits. One theory is that someone in the neighborhood raised them from poults, then released them.

Unfortunately, the jake has developed a bad habit - he runs up to and chases passing cars!

It's possible he's reacting to the sound of the car's engine, or perhaps his reflection - or both. Regardless, it's a bad habit that will surely be his demise.

If the turkeys are allowed to remain, however, they will get killed - either by a car, a person, or a dog. We also believe they pose a risk to pedestrians and the motoring public, significant enough to warrant their removal.
e’re proposing to capture the birds this week, then transport them to Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for a health exam. From there, biologists with the Department of Fish and Wildlife will have final say as to where they are relocated.
However, not everyone is in agreement with moving the turkeys. As Duane and Rebecca were evaluating their condition, they were approached by a neighbor who expressed concern for the birds, but was opposed to the idea of them being removed.

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Out of the Frying Pan

Grease bins contain used fryer oil from restaurants. Here, the lid is left open.

Over the last week, we received multiple reports of a gull entangled in fishing line and hooks. It was apparently hanging out at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, at the far end by the restaurants.

On December 30, Duane and Rebecca went to look. Armed with a long-handled net and a big bag of Fritos, the duo began scouring the pier in search of the injured seabird.

As they were walking past the first set of restaurants, Rebecca happened to spot a rock pigeon in an open grease bin. It was feasting on fatty bits and pieces suspended in the discarded fryer oil.

Oil is oil, and exposure to it can be extremely harmful to birds.

Feathers act like shingles on a roof - it's their structure and alignment that protect a bird from the elements and help it retain body heat.

Certain substances can cause feathers to 'collapse' - like oil or soapy water. When this happens, a bird loses its ability to thermoregulate and can quickly suffer hypothermia.

This close-up of a pelican's chest illustrates how feathers can part down to the skin, letting in cold water and air. This bird was exposed to water discharged from a fish processing facility in Monterey. 

The pigeon was greasy and in trouble, and so were a handful of others nearby. It was obvious they, too, had dined at the grease bin. 

Note the 'puffed-up' and 'hunched' appearance. This often indicates a bird is cold or unwell. 

The team planned their capture, setting the net and baiting the birds with crumbles. Within a few minutes they caught four oiled pigeons - two by hand!

With the rock pigeons safely contained in ventilated containers in the rescue vehicle, Duane and Rebecca resumed their search for the gull.

It wasn't long before it appeared - walking out from behind a parked car. The bird was hungry, and baited-in easily.

All five birds were transported to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz.

We are extremely grateful to have them as a resource for infirm wildlife, including rock pigeons. Many wildlife rehabilitation hospitals do not treat pigeons as they are a non-native species.

The rock pigeon, also known as the rock dove, is not native to North America. It was introduced from Europe in the 1600s. It's not clear where their original range was, but hieroglyphics indicate pigeons were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago.

Check out the short video, below, to learn more about the amazing rock pigeon. Enjoy!