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  • In the Garden: Cloudy with a Chance of Confusion August 29, 2014
    I met a new butterfly this week.  This particular butterfly is one of the skippers. Skippers are in the Superfamily Hesperioidea, as opposed to say, Swallowtails or Milkweed Butterflies that are in the Papilionoidea Superfamily encompassing Butterflies (excluding skippers). Skippers are a diverse bunch and often hard to identify. This skipper was rather larg […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Plants Beyond the Garden August 28, 2014
    I love having native plants in my garden. Every moment that I can do so finds me slipping into the garden to find a beautiful flower, a hummingbird sipping on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), an insect collecting food or collecting prey, and to listen to the sweet song of birds. As much as I love […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • When a Tree Falls in the Schoolyard August 25, 2014
    We had only one shade tree at our suburban DC elementary school, a 50ish-year-old pin oak, and it was cut down over the summer without notice. After the shock and swearing wore off, I started thinking about how we could use what remained. Almost anything can be turned into a lesson, including a prominently placed […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Stacey Evers
  • The Worms Crawl In but Do They Swim? August 22, 2014
    This week I noticed that there was some webbing on a Baldcypress tree I planted a while back. At some point my property was likely home to many of these trees as is evident by decaying knees I see when the pond level gets low.  These majestic trees require wet conditions during part of the year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Shrubs for Small Gardens August 19, 2014
    For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge. Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf […] We love h […]
    Karyl Seppala
  • Wildlife Deception as a Defense August 15, 2014
    Tanner, the English Setter was headed out for his afternoon stroll of the yard.  I saw something over behind a tall cluster of Bidens alba and it seemed to be thrashing.  Tanner zoomed on over and flushed out a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk flew off with its feathers somewhat ruffled in the quick getaway. Tanner […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Baldcypress Ecosystem August 13, 2014
    Birding in Delaware at Trap Pond State Park, a baldcypress ecosystem. After a wonderful trip aboard the Mummichog II for the Cape Water Taxi Ecotour to explore the ecosystem of the Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware, today we headed to southwestern Delaware to explore a fresh water ecosystem. Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Cardinal Flower August 12, 2014
      Hummingbirds love it. So do I. If it was a Corvette Stingray, the color would be called “Victory Red.” It is a blazing, brilliant, red, not often seen in a native plant. In the picture above, you see a sweat bee, using a leaf as a resting spot on the Cardinal Flower’s, Lobelia cardinalis, landing […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Raising Question Mark butterflies August 11, 2014
    Question Mark butterflies can be elusive if you don’t know how to attract them to your beautiful wildlife garden. They are drawn more to sap runs (often created by woodpeckers) and rotting fruit than the flowers in your yard. If you have a plum or cherry tree you may see these and other butterflies feeding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Judy Burris

#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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