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  • Beer and Butterflies, Hops and Commas January 26, 2015
    This is the time of year I think most of us gardening folk are itching to get back out there tending to our plants and critters.  I’ve been taking inventory of my seeds, shopping around for new bee boxes and bird houses and mentally designing new flower beds.  Since my brother and I spend so […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    Judy Burris
  • Florida Winter Birds January 23, 2015
    I’ve had two recent avian visitors that for me are a real treat.  You see migrating birds aren’t exclusively a phenomenon of northern climes.  Florida also has migratory visitors, some merely passing through and some that stay a few months but don’t breed here. If you prepare a Florida winter wildlife garden to their liking, […] We love hearing from you! Ple […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • The Undisclosed Location January 22, 2015
    I love January in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Recent rain has brought new life to the drought-stricken soil, and new spring green seedlings are sprouting up everywhere. Trails are still wet one week after our 1-day rainstorm.  After waiting all year for rain, native plants waste no time in asserting themselves. This month, the air […] We lo […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Dead Wood is Not Dead Weight January 21, 2015
    Dead wood from trees provides abundant habitat for wildlife in your garden. We talk often of the value of native trees in your wildlife garden. Trees provide all manner of ecosystem services, and provide food and shelter for many different kinds of wildlife. In fact, native trees support vastly larger numbers of different species of […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Arbor Day? Yes! And It’s All About Florida Trees! January 16, 2015
    Florida weather puts us ahead of the April National Arbor Day planting curve.  The third Friday of January is officially designated as Florida Arbor Day (in Louisiana too!).   Tis our dry season, so I suppose we plant now to get the roots reaching deep for water before rainy season hits and makes it easy.  This […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Can I Make a Difference? January 15, 2015
    How many of you ponder this question? You’re living in a house with a small yard in an urban area. After you plant your tomato and pepper plants, there just isn’t much room left. You hung up a bird feeder – could you do more, you wonder? You hear about the problems with the bees […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Resources for Planning Your Wildlife Garden January 14, 2015
    It’s the Dreaming Season–winter is upon us, and for most of us snow and cold are keeping us inside where it’s warm and cozy, and not outside working in our wildlife gardens. This is the perfect time to plan, and dream about, the steps we will take in our gardens in the coming spring to […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Start your rain barrels now January 12, 2015
    This is Old Man Winter’s time, which at a school can translate into a lot of indoor recess time and little to no garden time. Here’s a winter project to keep students’ minds on the gardens and focus their energy when they can’t get outside: Painting rain barrels. We have two rain barrels at Belvedere. Although we don’t use […] We love hearing from you! Pleas […]
    Stacey Evers
  • Planthoppers: Coming to a Lilypad Near You January 10, 2015
    I’m always trying to think ahead of ideas for articles here at Beautiful Wildlife Garden and Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, two of the blogs where I regularly share tales of the flora and fauna finds in my own garden. In anticipation, I have been gathering photos which convey the biodiversity that American White Waterlily […] We love hearing from you! P […]
    Loret T. Setters

#GardenChat

Where The Wildlife Goes

“If you talk to the animals
They will talk to you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them,
You will not know them,
And what you do not know
You will fear.
What one fears one destroys.”
- Chief Dan George

I am a gardener not a wildlife expert. Yesterday, when our new sweet baby squirrel friend was found clinging soaked and shivering to the rocks near our pond the outlook seemed dire. Gently lifting his bedraggled body, I sent our youngest son running for a t-shirt to wrap it in. A quick call to our local vet yielded the phone number of a local man, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, living just 10 minutes from our home. I phoned Gary who gave me urgent care instructions and told me that if the wee one was still alive at 6 p.m. Gary would take him in. Until then, it was critical to keep the babe warm with a heating pad and provide Pedialyte for hydration.

Sleeping soundly wrapped and warm.

After an hour the patient was dry,warm and curled up into a ball sleeping soundly. His shallow breathing becoming deep and regular. Time to see if he would drink. After a failed first attempt with an infant syringe, I made a quick trip to the store for a bottle. It was a bit large, but he seemed to make do. His afternoon was spent sleeping and waking in regular intervals with “feedings” in between. At 7 p.m. it was time to deliver him to the expert for true medical care.

A truly amazing moment.

Gary Zimmerman and his wife Trish are class II licensed wildlife rehabilitators and the owners of the Black Creek Wildlife Station, Inc. Gary met me at the door of his converted 1850 barn which serves as triage for sick and orphaned wildlife. I was struck at once by his easy demeanor and when he tucked the baby squirrel into his flannel shirt any and all doubts were erased. Gary and I chatted for almost 40 minutes as he shared about what he does and the challenges he and other wildlife experts are facing.

Gary and his wife Trish live along Black Creek. In Gary’s rural area alone, increased use of pesticides and herbicides are affecting local creeks and streams where water fowl were once released. Mature evergreens and trees, a vital part of the habitat along the creek have been cut down to make way for swimming pools and lawns. What’s even more amazing… all of the wildlife release sites on the east side of our city have been leveled for new construction. Yes, ALL. With the natural habitats and secondary release sites eliminated where does wildlife go once its ready to be re-introduced to the wild? His answer, “The dump.”

Of the 750 acres belonging to the landfill, roughly 165 are dedicated for current and future refuse. The rest, with the efforts of Gary and other volunteers, is being restored as a natural wildlife habitat complete with bluebird boxes and more. Who knew?! Gary informed me that he’s released over 60 animals in the last year to our local landfill; including owls, a red-tail hawk, rabbits, a fox and next…our squirrel. I must confess I had not an inkling that our local landfill was working to establish a safe haven for wildlife. How ironic that land holding so much of our material waste is the same ground used as a safe depository for some of our most treasured wildlife… I have a lot to learn.

12 comments to Where The Wildlife Goes

  • Followed your treats yesterday. So glad that it worked out, and good to read the larger story here.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden was built on the site of an ash dump. Today it’s a destination for birders, especially in the Native Flora Garden during seasonal migrations.

  • AW….I’m so glad you found him and saved him. What a sweet little guy. He must have gotten lost from the nest, he looks too tiny to have been out on his own already. But I know he was in good, loving hands!

  • Diane

    God Bless those people…we need to stop tearing down the woods. It’s happening in to many places across the country.St. Francis will have a special place for you in heaven.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Thank you for your kind words. I was amazed yesterday when talking to Gary to find that several “odd” species of birds have been spotted in our area. The most unusual being an endangered Pippin! With habitats so drastically reduced, many birds have changed not only migration patterns, but habitats as well!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    This poor little guy’s mom was hit by a car at the end of our driveway just days earlier. We had suspected she was pregnant, when he appeared hungry and shivering days later we knew for sure. I think there may have been another babe that was killed by a neighborhood cat. :(

  • Lisa Gustavson

    It’s really interesting how people don’t equate a healthy environment with wildlife. Not only are they fascinating to watch, but there presence is vital for our fragile eco-system to remain balanced. When habitats are lost, we are losing much more than the presence of animals! I’m so thankful for the caring and dedication of people like Gary.

  • So glad you found the little one! I was a wildlife rehabilitator for years. It’s often a lot of sleepless nights (especially in spring with many mouths…some of them nocturnal…that need to be fed), and quite expensive. Most facilities find it difficult in the current economic climate to sustain their operations, as the majority run primarily on donations from the public. Most will often accept donations of feed, blankets, towels, and cleaning supplies. Most people don’t realize there are such facilities in their area until an event such as this, but they’re definitely worthy of our support.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    I couldn’t agree more! We were fortunate that Gary lived so close by and was willing to accept our squirrel baby. Just an hour before we arrived he’d also taken in an orphaned baby fox. His barn was already housing injured waterfowl. Donations of time, materials and money are crucial to his organization and others like it. I’ll gladly donate and continue to raise awareness. :-)

  • What a beautiful post. I watch and write about wildlife in NYC (you might be surprised – we’ve had coyotes in Central Park this winter!), and am becoming interested in the challenges that face our local animal rehabilitators. Thank you for writing this.

  • Lisa Gustavson

    After learning more from Gary yesterday, nothing surprises me when it comes to wildlife sightings. I’m happy to hear there’s interest and attention being given to the plight of our wildlife and the people caring for it! THANK YOU! :-)

  • This is exactly why it’s so important to support your local wildlife rehabilitator however you can. They work really hard for very little money. They are certainly heroes to me! Great job, Lisa. That little guy chose the right yard to get found in!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Oh thank you , Carole. :-) It was an experience that has forever changed me and our family. We plan to raise awareness for the hard work these dedicated people are doing as well as volunteer in any way we can. :-)

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