During the break here at the University, we wanted to repost a wonderful interview Edmond did with raptor rehabilitator, Monteen McCord of HawkTalk. Spring and summer are super busy for wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators, as this is when loads of baby animals are born. It’s also a time to learn more about the wonderful people who help these animals.
SUPER HORSE TO THE WILDLIFE RESCUE!
Super Horse to the Wildlife Rescue interviewed Raptor Rehabilitator & Educator, Monteen McCord from Hawk Talk! Come learn about the great work she is doing to educate people about these special birds!
Edmond: How long have you been rehabilitating birds?
Ms. McCord: I met my first owl in 1983 at a vet clinic where I was employed.
Edmond: Neat! How did you get started rehabilitating birds?
Ms. McCord: My background is in surgical nursing, but got out of the human medical field and started working for a veterinarian.
Edmond: Animals do make more interesting patients. What does it take to become a wildlife rehabilitator?
Ms. McCord: The exams are very difficult to pass. It takes up a lot of time and even more resources and if you don’t have the full support and backing of your spouse/family members, you will have trouble.
Edmond: Wow! It sounds like it takes a ton of hard work and passion! Do you rehab birds of all kinds or just raptors?
Ms. McCord: Yes, only raptors. I decided to target one group and get good at it. It’s been my experience that if you try to rehab everything, you’re not very good at any of it.
Edmond: Makes sense! What kind of birds do you have right now?
Ms. McCord: I have 4 rehab birds in hospital right now…all vehicle strikes – Great horned owl, barred owl, Screech owl and a Red-shouldered hawk. I have 6 that live with me full time.
Edmond: All of those birds must keep you busy. Do you release most of your birds back in the wild?
Ms. McCord: The release rate is about 50%. They have to be in tip-top shape to survive at the top of the food chain.
Edmond: Do you take your birds out for education programs? If yes, how can a person/organization contact you to book a program?
Ms. McCord: HawkTalk generates funding for the charity in two ways; charitable contributions (we are a 501c3 not for profit organization) and program fees for educational programs for schools, civic organizations, scouts, nature centers, etc. You can call us at 770-720-1847. Email us Monteen@hawktalk.org through the web site www.hawktalk.org. You can also ‘like’ us and contact us via FaceBook www.facebook.com/hawktalk.org AND if that isn’t enough, you can also contact us via our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/monteenmccord Whew! 🙂
Edmond: Excellent! What message would you give people about keeping our wildlife safe?
Ms. McCord: Wildlife will continue to survive among us, regardless of where you live. I have songbird feeders and water sources, along with brush piles, so the little critters can have a safe place to hide and reproduce. I even offer my leftovers on the deck for the possums and raccoons overnight because it isn’t their fault that they have to eek out a living among us pesky humans… 🙂
Edmond: Wow, the wildlife near you sure are lucky! What should a person do if they find an injured bird?
Ms. McCord: The bird might not be injured; it may just be young. Spring is when the majority of the baby songbirds and raptors (and small mammals) get accidentally orphaned by well-meaning people who don’t understand that young birds leave the nest before they can fly. Their parents are nearby to hear their food calls and will bring them food, provide a modicum of security and do the necessary coaching. When I acquired cats, I removed my bluebird house for that very reason…I know that the cats would just wait at the base of the feeder for dinner to jump out. The young are very vulnerable when they first leave the nest, but the universe made it that way to improve the gene pool and young birds of prey exemplify the phrase, ‘survival of the fittest’! You can put some gloves on and put the baby songbird up under a bush, but chances are, they won’t stay very long. Gloves are needed not because the mother bird will smell you and abandon the babe, for they don’t have a sense of smell, but you do leave your scent behind for other predators.
We have had great success in re-nesting young owls and hawks if we know where the nest is. Installing artificial baskets on or near the nest tree works just great as long as the parents can hear the food call, they will locate the babe’s new digs and rear them from there.
Hanging the wicker basket filled with leaves and twigs, making sure there are no ants. The nest tree is nearby.
Human intervention is needed if you see a bird that is obviously drooping one wing or is non-weight bearing. Keep in mind that birds rest on one foot, so it will take some observation on your part to determine if the bird is indeed injured, or merely resting. If you need to pick up an injured, you can poke some holes in a cardboard box and upend it over the bird. Slide something flat under it and gently turn the box right sight up. Tape the lid down rather than the figure 8 because you don’t want to put your hands down in a box with an injured raptor, especially, if it’s lying on his back. The toes are strong enough to bury the talons up to the hilt on whatever flesh they come in contact with, so you need to take the utmost care in capturing them. I prefer the box method because you will avoid physical contact with the bird, which makes it safer for all concerned. You can also throw a jacket or blanket over them, but you won’t know where their feet are and the feet and the business end and if the bird binds to you, you will probably end up killing the bird to get the talons out of you. Not fun…has only happened to me twice since ’83. All it takes is to be a half second faster than they are and you’re good to go. J People in Georgia can go over to www.georgiawildlife.org and click on ‘how to find a wildlife rehabilitator’. Click down to whatever category critter you have and start with your county and radiate out from there. Other residents contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Game and Fish Commission in assistance in finding a licensed person to help.
Edmond: Whew that is some great information! We know people always ask as spring arrives what to do with baby birds! Thanks so much for taking the time to inform us! And THANK YOU for being a Wildlife Super Hero! Your hard work and dedication to animals are a real inspiration!
If you would like to donate to HawkTalk please check out the website! Monteen is always needing mouse money! Those baby owls eat a bunch!