Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Maternal Instinct

Another one of our raptors from the exhibits here at VINS has found her calling in fostering a young baby of her kind. Our female red-tailed hawk, who has been known to go through various stages of nesting with her male partner on exhibit, now has the chance to flex her maternal muscle with the young orphaned hawk we recently took into rehab.

While none of us on staff have witnessed the adult hawk feeding the youngster, we have noticed she keeps a watchful eye over him. We will often find her perched beside the baby, towering over him in a seemingly protective manner. We will keep the pair together so that the little hawk can learn to be a hawk, and eventually we will move them together to the flight cage where the baby can learn to fly.

In other news... it's been raining ducks! With 10 wood ducklings and two young mallards in rehab, Wildlife Services' staff has been kept on its toes mincing greens, changing out towels and listening to the persistent peeping of these young waterfowl. We tend to see quite a few young ducklings in the summer -- either orphaned when their parents are killed, or when they stray from their siblings and mother. On occasion, we receive ducklings attacked by pet cats. (A great reminder to keep Kitty indoors!)

The two mallards -- who came into rehab separately -- are doing quite well. They were recently upgraded to an outdoor enclosure complete with kiddie pool for swimming. The pair seem to have bonded, and will likely be released together once they can fly.

The wood ducklings came in three separate batches, believe it or not. Wood ducks represent a special challenge to rehabbers, as they tend to have a difficult time growing up without their mothers. Fortunately, their chances of doing well in a rehabilitation setting go up when they have siblings to grow with. Having a group of 10 will increase their chances of being releasable.

On the other hand, mallard ducklings are a bit more hardy, and have a better chance of growing up to be strong and releasable when raised in a rehabilitation setting, even if they are on their own without siblings.

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