In 2006, Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society treated 404 wildlife cases at their rehab center.
For all those readers who continue to enjoy MARS moments and for new readers, I would like to give an update on some of our most interesting cases.
The onslaught of the early winter storms in November provided us with many unusual species and their care presented us with many housing and feeding challenges. We received a racing pigeon in early November that was blown off course soon after it was released in a race off the northern tip of Japan. “J.P” had quite a trip, presumably hitching rides on freighters across the ocean until she landed totally exhausted on a Coast Guard ship off the Queen Charlottes.
The bird was banded and we were able to trace and contact the owner in Japan who was desperate to have his pigeon returned. After 45 days in quarantine and isolation, J.P. was cleared by a vet and given the necessary permits to return home. The pigeon was reunited with her owner who paid for the pigeon’s room and board plus its return flight to Japan.
Another species that have had great difficulty weathering the storms are owls, especially the barred owls. We received five of these owls, the majority of which had ventured onto streets or roads desperate for whatever food they could find. Collisions with cars resulted in four sustaining concussions but after nursing their sore heads they soon regained their strength from a daily delivery of mice, and all have been released. Another of these owls decided to try its luck in the discarded cooking oil outside a restaurant; it took this bird longer to recondition its feathers after having to be bathed several times much to its chagrin. This owl was returned and released back to Powell River.
Many eagles, especially sub-adults and juveniles lack the finely tuned hunting skills of mature birds and as a result have a tough time hunting in extreme weather conditions. It is not unusual to find an eagle frozen to the ground especially when they turn to the local garbage dump for an easy meal. Many times the free meal turns out to be tainted and the food makes them sick. This was the case with a sub adult from the Campbell River dump. After gradually reintroducing food to the bird she was soon feeding well.
One lucky gentleman received a Christmas gift he’ll remember forever from his wife, when she presented him with a certificate for an eagle release. This eagle became the sponsored bird of Jim Malek and his wife Colleen. Jim was able to realize his dream of holding an eagle during its transfer to the North Island Recovery Center at Errington. He found out how strong and powerful these birds are. After spending 10 days at the center, building up its stamina in their long flight pen, this eagle was transported back to Campbell River where it regained its freedom on a picture-perfect day.
Probably the most exciting and unique visitor of the winter so far has been the brown pelican. She was found on Nov. 22 in Campbell River after being sighted working her way up the coast from Victoria. This was the day of the first major snow storm in our area and she would have certainly died that night had she not been rescued. Emaciated and weak, she was examined by a vet and he agreed she was healthy other than being cold, tired and hungry. Being a warm weather species, we needed transfer the pelican to a larger cage but were unable to because all our aviaries are outdoors. She desperately needed to exercise her wings and have a daily shower. We were in touch again with the Pelican Recovery Center in San Pedro California, who provided us with plans for a “Peli-Pen” which we built and she is delighted with new quarters that provide extra attention and room to flap.
Our efforts to transport her hit a snag at Christmas time as all the cargo flights were booked to capacity. Air Canada and Pacific Coastal airlines both generously agreed to fly the pelican and her departure date was arranged for Jan. 29. Unfortunately, we encountered a last minute snag with one of the United States permits and had to postpone her departure.
To report injured wildlife please call 337-2021.