This baby squirrel was brought into City Wildlife after she fell 75 feet from her nest onto the concrete sidewalk below. She suffered a bloody nose, a broken tooth, and a broken ankle. Luckily, just like children, this squirrel was young enough that her ankle healed very quickly.
We gave her medicine and put a cast on her injured leg. As soon as she was well enough, we put her into a cage with several other squirrels including her brother who was brought in at the same time.
She stayed with us until she was old enough to climb and get food on her own. She was released with three other juvenile squirrels. Check out the video below to see her transition back into the wild.
Mallard Family at the US Botanical Gardens
A mother duck at the US Botanic Garden nested in an interior closed courtyard and couldn’t get her 12 ducklings out. The staff called Animal Control and they called us to help. When we arrived and approached the mother, she flew away. But we put the ducklings in a box and took them outside through the building and to the lawn. Within minutes, the mother duck appeared, seeming to understand that we had her ducklings and were trying to help. We released them to her on the lawn and the happy family waddled off to the pond a few yards away in the native plant garden, amid clapping and photo-ops from dozens of tourists who had been watching the process.
In early May, shortly after 6:00 a.m., Lights Out DC coordinator Lisbeth Fuisz noticed a flash of red in the street. She dashed out in the street and retrieved a male Scarlet Tanager, who was lying motionless beneath the overhead glass walkway connecting the two halves of the Convention Center. The bird was stunned and helpless after hitting the glass.
Birds don’t recognize glass and have no concept that they can’t fly through a space that they can see through. And reflections in the glass just appear to them as more empty sky. So the scene with the Scarlet Tanager is sadly repeated hundreds — if not thousands — of times each migration season. Some of the victims, like the Scarlet Tanager, are listed as “species of greatest conservation need” in City’s Wildlife Action Plan.
In a portion of downtown, Lights Out DC volunteers rescue injured migrants and collect the dead ones. Injured birds are later released in appropriate settings after they recover or are taken to City Wildlife. Fatalities are later turned over to the Smithsonian Institute.
The Scarlet Tanger recovered and was released in Glover Park later that morning. City Wildlife hopes to convince building owners to turn out unnecessary lights at night to save migrating birds. Read more on the Lights Out DC page.
Mallard Duck Family at the Van Ness Condominiums
Every year, ducks nest in the planters at the Van Ness condominiums, a complex with numerous high walls and barriers that prevent the duck families from reaching Rock Creek Park. Instead, the mother duck leads her ducklings to a fountain, where there are no nutrients for the ducklings. At that point, we “walk” the duck family to Rock Creek. We catch the ducklings, put them in a box and place the box past the barriers. After several hours, the mother returns looking for them. When we have her attention and she knows they are in our box (ducklings cheep loudly at the sound of her approaching wing beats), the mother follows us with the box along a steep path, around buildings, and finally down to the creek. It is a joyous moment when we release them to her and they all go swimming off together in the stream. There is nothing sweeter than the cheeps of ducklings when they are reunited with their mother.
In 2012, though, the mother duck was young and inexperienced – and not as accustomed to people as the older ducks who have nested there before. She flew off, and after 8 hours of patiently waiting and scanning the skies, we never saw her again. We took the ducklings to a wildlife rehabilitator in Maryland and they were successfully raised and released in a lovely spot near a pond– but how much better it would have been if the family reunion had been successful.