Sunday September 27, 2015 marked my one year anniversary of being an official volunteer emergency driver with Toronto Wildlife. I had actually signed on a week or so earlier but Sept 27, 2014 was my first drive for them.
I know I had blogged about it, but to recap, it was to pick up an injured Cooper's Hawk from Mississauga Animal Services that someone had found. On route to MAS, I was asked if I could pick up a small Virginia Opossum minutes from our home, it was laying on a sidewalk, under a box with a brick over top. I met an elderly woman named Marion, who made the call about the 'Possum, and I still bump into now and then since we live so close to each other. Marion thinks I have very cool hair! LoL! Unfortunately neither animal got a second chance at a wild life. The Opossum was hit by a car and his injuries were too severe. The Cooper's Hawk was a starving young bird, too far gone at this point. Both creatures met a peaceful ending after thorough examinations and decisions made on what was best for the animals.
It has been quite a year driving for wildlife. In these 12 months I have done 42 drives. 16 drives bringing a total of 27 animals into the centre for medical help. 26 drives out of the centre and helping 90 animals find their way back home, getting a second chance at a wild life. That's almost 1 drive a week. It was either feast or famine for my volunteering. Some weeks I did 2 or 3 drives. Some times I went 4 or 5 weeks without doing a drive. Those long lulls in between are why I tell people I don't think I am doing enough. But friends remind me that is not the case. I do a lot, not just for TWC, add the Owl Foundation, Peregrine Falcon fledge watches and just my own care/concern for all creatures that come to our backyard or I see in my outings. Dumpster diving for Raccoons. Chasing Coyotes off the road in the middle of the night. And so on.
I'm not bragging about this. I don't call myself a hero. I love animals and being able to help them any way I can is an honor.
I have met a lot of great people through this volunteering gig. I've made new friends too. It's amazing the friendships built because of the birds (and other wildlife). So many people Angie and I now call friends, we would never have met, if not for the love of birds.
I should link some of my blogs about the drives I have done. Some great stories in there, so I think anyway.
How helping wildlife really helped me not too long ago. See here.
I really love this one about a little American Goldfinch that I got to take back home (to his home). See here.
A Red-tailed Hawk who got a second chance at life. See here.
The first blog since volunteering last year. See here.
Some stories stick out more than others. I had to help find a flock of Robins in the fall of 2014, so a young Robin could be set free, and follow them through the winter. A friend of mine gave me his reports of Robins in the area which really helped. So when this one was set free, seeing him join the other Robins and fly off into the woods was amazing. The Goldfinch one I linked is another special tale. The Pigeon releases are always great because it's another one of finding their flock, waiting for them to leave the confines of the carrier which can take a very long time and seeing them reunite with their buddies. It makes me think of my Pigeon pals that visit me at home. I helped a male Northern Cardinal go home once, which was awesome because Cardinals are so special to me. I've admired this species of bird for as long as I can think back. So many to reflect back on. I silently wish every animal I release the best of luck on their journey.
All animals I bring in, I do my best to keep tabs on them. It's sad how many do not make it. But animals have a great ability to hide injuries and illness until they are too far gone.
I've logged all my drives for fun. Looking back, I can remember most of them with ease. I will continue this with all future work. I don't "tick" species, I just do what needs to be done for what ever needs help when I am available.
Here are a few photos of wildlife that stuck around after release. I don't chase anything for a shot; they've been through enough already. If they linger, I will try for photos at a distance (perk of having a 500mm lens).
One of the links is about this Red-tailed Hawk.
The link about the Goldfinch is of this bird.
I was thrilled to send this Wood Thrush back on his migratory path last fall. I see few Wood Thrushes in my travels, but hear them often and it's one of my favorite songs.
As much as I try to direct release birds to trees and bushes, sometimes they pick peculiar places to stop and get their bearings.
An Ovenbird waving thanks and good bye before he disappears.
Many of the release birds are migratory songbirds, survivors of window collisions that the volunteers of FLAP find and rescue.
It was great Angie could join me on the one year date to release another 4 migratory birds. I guess I should have made a bigger deal of it? Angie joins me occasionally, when it works with her schedule, she blogged about another release not too long ago, see here. All fall releases of migratory birds are done west of Toronto. That is the direction they will head, along the lake shore, before they hit southbound at points like Pelee National Park. So helping them get out of our city, away from the skyscrapers, is a big help.
I look forward to year 2, and 3, and 4, and so on, and so on. I hope I am able to help for many years to come.
Me releasing a Northern Parula near Lake Ontario a few weeks ago.