Newsletter of the Wildlife Rescue League Summer 2005, Vol. 23, No.2
Unique and Amazing
Birds that are Supposed
to be in Your Chimney
by Sarah O. Frye,
Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator
The ﬁrst hurdle in educating someone about chimney
swifts is to convince them that the birds are supposed to
be in the chimney and that they nest in chimneys quite skillfully and successfully. Swifts may
also nest in silos or wells, and even on a sheltered brick wall of an abandoned building. Origi-
nally named American swifts by Audubon, these birds formerly nested in large hollow trees that
once were abundant in North America. Human habitation eliminated large hollow trees, so the
adaptive swifts began using the masonry chimneys that emerged. The name alteration naturally
They Aren’t Like Most Other Birds
Chimney swifts are made for ﬂying. Their
short, ﬁve-inch long bodies are perfectly aero-
dynamic and ﬁtted with strongly structured
wings that span over 12 inches in full ﬂight.
They are among the fastest ﬂying birds on the
planet and have been clocked at close to 200
miles per hour. Swifts spend their daylight
From the Board ............................................................. 2 hours in ﬂight, consuming an enormous vol-
WRL Leadership Directory ...................................... 14 ume of insects as they soar incredibly through
the sky, almost straining the air.
Membership Information ........................................ 15
— Continued on page 8
Rescue Report i Summer 2005
WWW .WILDLIFERESCUELEAGUE.ORG 1
From the Board
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it
all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”
Scottish-born American industrialist, philanthropist.
This quote is exactly how I feel about my presidency
because every single one of you is vital to WRL and to me.
Thank you for your service.
Rescue Report Speaking of credit, WRL will be giving two (2) CEU credits
Wildlife Rescue League, P.O. Box 704, for each quarterly membership meeting that features a reha-
bilitator as the speaker. The WRL Executive Board made
Falls Church, Virginia 22040 this policy change to support our rehabbers, apprentices
(703) 391-8625 and caregivers and also to encourage increased attendance
at WRL membership meetings. Caroline Seitz of Reptiles
E-mail: email@example.com Alive! presented a wonderful program that included a few
Web: www.wildliferescueleague.org of her reptile friends at the March 2005 meeting. One thing
Caroline stressed is that reptiles prefer to be left alone, so
Wildlife Hotline: (703) 440-0800 we humans should not to be afraid and allow them to con-
tinue on their way. Our June speaker will be Kent Knowles
Editor of The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, and Leslie Sturges
of Bat World NOVA will speak at the September meeting. .
Layout Speaking of not doing it all alone, WRL has several vacant
Allison Pang committee positions as well as the Treasurer’s position on
the Executive Board. We need YOUR help; please read
Writer the article entitled “Board and Chair Positions Open” and
Holly Ross Haynes seriously consider volunteering. I also want to encourage
hotline volunteers to complete and send their data sheets
Contributors to Doug Brown each month. WRL received ﬁnancial help
Dawn Davis from Fairfax County because we could detail the level of
Kathy Wilson free service the hotline provides the county by responding
to wildlife situations, thereby reducing the calls handled by
Sarah O. Frye animal control. Detailed information such as that provided
Paula L. Rothman in hotline data sheets will be critical to justifying future
Jennifer Lagasca This year for the ﬁrst time WRL will participate in the Booz
Allen Classic – 2005 Birdies for Charity (http://birdies.
President BoozAllenClassic.com/WildlifeRescueLeague). The Booz
Dawn Davis Allen Classic is Washington’s only PGA Tour professional
golf tournament and will be held June 6-12 at Congressional
Vice President Country Club, the week before the U.S. Open. The world’s
best players, such at Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson
and John Daly are expected to compete, as they tune up for
the U.S. Open. You can make a donation for WRL using a
Articles and photos published in Rescue Report are for the infor- link on our website.
mation of WRL members and do not necessarily reﬂect the views
Thank you everyone. Have a wonderful and, most impor-
All materials printed in Rescue Report are the intellec-
tual property of WRL and may not be used without permission. tantly, a safe summer.
Direct permission requests to: WRL Rescue Report, Attn: Editor, P.O.
Box 704, Falls Church, VA 22040. DAWN DAVIS
Please send submissions to LndJasp@aol.com. Send President
scanned/digital images to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only electronic files (articles) will be accepted. Electronic
photos are preferred.
2 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
An Apprentice’s Life
(The Continuing Saga of Kathy Wilson’s Adventures as an Apprentice)
by Kathy Wilson
My rehabilitation apprenticeship was under Nora Nora was able to release with a girl cardinal. They
Missell for songbirds. I also did a few baby squir- were acting all lovey-dovey when she released them.
rels, but I have mostly tended towards birds. Noth-
ing, and I mean nothing, that you have heard or read The baby birds came in a big clump starting in
can prepare you for the reality of rehabilitating. mid-May and continuing through June. My life
suddenly became a round of feeding and clean-
The most obvious change to my life was TIME, as ing. I have to admit, though, that baby birds are
in lack thereof. I believe I heard Gretl Learned say adorable. Fledglings are fun, too, but more ram-
in my ﬁrst rehabilitation education class that if you bunctious. The trick is to get into a routine so
rehabbed baby birds, there were six weeks in the late that you can feed and clean efﬁciently and still
spring where you didn’t even have time to use the have time for your family and other interests.
bathroom. That’s just about the truth. Most baby
birds require feeding every hour for 13 hours a day. Rehabbing songbirds requires that you learn about
That, in a nut shell, is what I did on my summer a lot of different species. What they eat, any spe-
vacation. Baby mammals are easier – every 2 to cial needs, and with which other birds they can be
3 hours -- but housed. As a
the time com- result, I had
mitment is still a large vari-
there. This is ety of foods,
why so many depending on
rehabilitators which birds I
don’t have full had at the mo-
time jobs. It ment. I also
is possible to had to learn
work and be to deal with
a rehabilita- meal worms
tor, but you – something I
usually have had not even
to do older thought of
animals such when I ﬁrst de-
as juveniles cided to rehab.
I started off me off with
small. My ﬁrst bird was a wren recovering from a easy birds, like robins. They are easy to feed and
glue trap. I kept him until his feathers grew back learn to feed themselves readily. They are ador-
and then released him back home to ﬁnd his mate. ably cute and little yoyos to boot. When they see
That was a very moving and good ﬁrst experience. you come in the room, they do a little preemp-
I had a couple more like that in the early spring in- tive “pooping” to get reading for the next meal.
cluding a cardinal with a slightly injured wing that
— Continued on page 12
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 3
A Baby-Bird-Season in the Life of Jan Comstock,
Class II Song Bird Rehabilitator
by Holly Ross Haynes, Staff Writer
“Be careful what you ask for -- you may get it” is the adage that comes to mind after a pleasant afternoon inter-
view with Jan Comstock, Licensed Song Bird Rehabilitator and member of the Wildlife Rescue League. Her love of
song birds from the age of 10 has now burgeoned into an annual ﬁve-month, all-consuming commitment to their
care. A native of Johnstown, north of Denver, Colorado, Jan has found her place and calling in Fairfax City, VA.
In Northern Virginia, from approximately mid-April to mid-September, song birds brood and hatch their young,
causing an exponential growth in calls to the WRL hotline. With the shortage of rehabbers, Jan Comstock and
other licensed, Class II, song bird rehabilitators have a heavy workload to juggle. While she is quick to say that
she loves what she does for the birds, Jan strongly believes: “If there were more folks willing to become rehab-
bers, everyone’s load would be lessened and more reasonable throughout the year.”
A six-year member of WRL and a licensed rehabilitator under her own license for the past four years, the circum-
stance that hooked Jan up with the League is unusual. One morning before Thanksgiving, she and a few others
were outside the door of the veterinarian’s ofﬁce, waiting for it to open. She gravitated toward a woman who was
empty handed and struck up a conversation. Jan asked what she was there for, and the woman replied: “To pick
up a crow.” It was then that Jan learned of WRL’s existence and knew immediately that she wanted to become a
licensed rehabilitator of song birds.
A room on the second level of her home is dedicated exclusively to her rehabilitation work. As the temperature
must be conducive to the birds’ health, no air conditioning must mar the atmosphere. A large window affords
plenty of natural light; a window fan keeps the air clean and circulating. Everything is in perfect order, and the
cages, virtually vacant with the exception of two, are clean and ready for the onslaught of patients to come in the
next several days. For now, her charges include a beautiful Yellow-Shafted Flicker -- who prefers to stay out of
the public eye by ﬂying into his hollow log -- and, in a separate cage, three young doves (two are juvenile sib-
lings; the other is younger and from another brood).
In separate, neatly-marked plastic boxes housed under the ample work surface are meal worms, larvae and
beetles. All three are cultivated in wheat bran, and I am reminiscent of the popular TV Show, “Fear Factor,” when
I am granted permission to look inside each one. By the looks of them, Jan is well-stocked to feed a small army
of patients in the days ahead. It was time for the young dove to be fed, so Jan carefully retrieved him from the
cage, and he instinctively began probing his long, pointed beak between her ﬁngers. In normal conditions doves
are fed by sticking their beaks into their parent’s beaks.
Wildlife rehabilitators who work with migratory birds must be licensed by both the Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is a long and rather arduous process to become
licensed by both entities.
4 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
Jan ﬁrst was required to experience ﬁrst hand no less personal sacriﬁce a rehabilitator undergoes each sea-
than two seasons of baby birds as an apprentice under son, Jan says that when the baby season is upon her,
the tutelage of a licensed rehabilitator. Jan appren- she puts in no less than 13 hours a day, 7 days a week.
ticed under the experienced eye of WRL song bird Birds, however, require care only from dawn to dark,
rehabilitator, Nora Missell, who has been rehabbing “so you CAN get a good night’s sleep.” She schedules
for close to 20 years. As an apprentice, Jan began all her annual doctor and dentist appointments either
taking baby birds from Nora, who gradually gave her before or after baby bird season. The same goes for
more challenging patients and situations, allowing Jan vacations and visits to and from relatives and friends.
to increase in conﬁdence, knowledge and skill. After A carefully planned round-trip jaunt to the nearest
completing the two-year required training and obtain- grocery store ideally should be completed within 45
ing the two necessary permits, Jan was ready to accept minutes. Jan states that if not for the support of her
orphaned, sick and injured birds directly and thus was spouse, her two grown children, her veterinarian, Nora
able to be added to WRL’s hotline referral list. Since Missell, other bird rehabbers and WRL itself, the task
then, the Comstock’s phone has been busy, to say would be insurmountable.
the least. For the
more difﬁcult situa- The public is ex-
tions that require a pected to deliver all
veterinarian, Jan is injured or orphaned
grateful to have the wildlife, as rehabili-
expertise of Rose tators cannot take
Ann Fiskett, DVM, time away from the
in Fairfax, as well care of the animals
as WRL member already in their
and veterinarian, keep to retrieve and
Dr. Anne Hiss, who transport. There-
sends her birds that fore, a variety of
come into the City people bring their
of Fairfax Animal ﬁnds in assorted
Shelter. make-shift transport
modes to Jan’s door
Jan has rehabili- step-- including:
tated a tremendous shoe boxes, lunch
variety of the song boxes, plastic food
birds particular to storage containers,
our area. Some of and paper bags.
her most memorable One day, Jan’s
challenges have next door neigh-
involved kingﬁshers bor relayed to her
and killdeer who refuse to eat in captivity and therefore that another resident of the neighborhood had asked
must be force fed if Jan’s husband died. “Why?” asked Jan’s neighbor.
continuously. “I recall a kingﬁsher I had to force-feed “Because I keep seeing so many people driving up to
live ﬁsh every 30 to 60 minutes for one week. The the Comstock’s house and leaving casseroles!”
multiple calls I made to other rehabbers and wildlife
centers gave me the foreboding news that kingﬁshers Rehabilitation of birds and other wildlife is very expen-
did not do well in rehab and he’d probably die within sive. Jan explains that many veterinarians donate their
one day. I am happy to say not only did he ‘make it’ time and medicine to assist rehabilitation efforts to
but was released a week later!” licensed rehabilitators, for which she is grateful. “My
wonderful vets never give up on a bird until they’ve
While adult starlings are notoriously destructive and exhausted every avenue. They are the best!” Many
menacing when interacting with other native birds, Jan people make donations when dropping off a patient
says that, as babies, they are especially humorous to and, while Jan says rehabbers never solicit for this,
look at; “the two enormous tufts of grey down over they are always appreciative. WRL also provides food
their eyes make them look like Groucho Marx, and their and supplies. Despite the foregoing, rehabilitators pay
extremely wide, yellow beak makes them look like Al for many things out of their own pockets.
To give one an idea of what kind of commitment and — Continued on page 13
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 5
WRL Board Plans for 2005 What a Difference One
The newly elected WRL Board of Directors met on
Saturday, February 19, to review plans for 2005. In
Girl Scout Can Make
addition to approving the 2005 budget (see below),
the Board reviewed the 2004 Annual Report and
In late November 2004, Kristin Gogal
discussed new fundraising ideas. WRL’s ﬁnances adopted WRL as a Girl Scout project, and
for 2004 ended on a positive note, thanks to fund- rehabilitators attending the March 2005
ing received from Fairfax County and the Combined WRL membership meeting were amazed
Federal Campaign, as well as donations made in and thankful to receive all the food and
response to a Spring 2004 request letter mailed to
other items she collected on our behalf. In
addition to her donation drives, Kristin built
Fundraising ideas under consideration for 2005 a beautiful bird house and refurbished sev-
include a rafﬂe, a golf tournament, and selling eral of WRL’s educational posters. Kristin is
smaller items such as wildlife buttons, tee shirts, also an artist who designed and created a
silk-screened totes, note cards, and animal beaded
necklaces. Priority expenditures for WRL include
new poster using her own drawings of local
providing supplies to rehabilitators, maintaining the birds.
hotline, publishing the newsletter, and distributing THANK YOU, KRISTIN.
educational materials to the public.
Wildlife Rescue League 2005 Budget
401 • Membership Dues 7,000.00
402 • General Donations 15,000.00
403 • Education/Speaker Income 0.00
404 • Local Govt-Fairfax County 10,000.00
405 • Sale of Merchandise 250.00
408 • Fund Raising-General 2,000.00
408 • Fund Raising-Spring Request 0.00
408 • Fund Raising-Quilt Rafﬂe 0.00
421 • Interest Income 600.00
Hotline Appreciation Lunch
441 • CFC Donations 12,000.00
Total Income 46,850.00
501 • Public Education 500.00
502 • Supply Committee 15,000.00
504 • Hospitality Committee 100.00
505 • Info Services Committee 300.00
506 • Membership Committee 6,500.00
509 • Rehabilitator Education 2,000.00
511 • Volunteer Committee 1,000.00
525 • Hotline Committee 10,500.00
538 • Administrative Expense 2,500.00
545 • Storage Expense 2,500.00
560 • Fundraising Committee 1,500.00
Total Expense 42,400.00
Net Income/(Loss) 4,450.00
6 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
Board and Chair Positions Open Fundraising Committee
This committee is responsible for thinking of ways to
WRL is entering the busy season with ﬁve important raise money to support WRL goals and activities and
positions open, one on the Executive Board and four for organizing these efforts, which may be formal or
committee chairs. Please think seriously about vol- informal. Formal fundraising consists of applying for
unteering your time to ﬁll one. If you are interested, grants from Federal, state and local governments; ap-
please contact Dawn Davis, WRL President, at 703- plying for grants from foundations; and writing letters
506-9460 (w) or 703-966-3474 (c). Details about the to the membership and area shelters seeking dona-
duties for each position follow. tions. Informal fundraising can include yard sales,
auctions at membership meetings, gift wrapping at
Treasurer. the holidays, placing donation cans at bird seed or pet
The treasurer is responsible for the overall ﬁnancial supply stores and any other creative ideas.
health of the organization; this includes, but is not
limited to: Hotline Coordinator
• Prepare annual budget. The hotline committee consists of four sections: Hot-
• Monitor annual ﬁnancial performance (budget line Coordinator, Hotline Scheduler, Data Manager, and
vs. actual). Transport Coordinator. We are in need of a hotline co-
• Maintain ﬁnancial database (QuickBooks). ordinator whose duties will include:: 1) giving the ho-
• Maintain all ﬁnancial records for the League. tline training class at least twice annually; 2) updat-
• General bookkeeping: ing the hotline manual every two years; 3) updating
Deposits the appendices to the hotline manual annually – lists
Disbursements of rehabbers on the hotline, shelters, and out-of-area
Bank Reconciliation rehabbers; 4) recruiting new hotline volunteers; 5)
• Monitor cash ﬂow of organization. building rapport with rehabbers and shelter managers;
• Resolve billing disputes with vendors. 6) holding an annual meeting with the hotline volun-
• Prepare ﬁnancial statements for the board. teers; and 7) problem-solving for hotlines volunteers
• Prepare treasurer’s report for the board. and rehabilitators.
• Supply ﬁnancial information to board members
when requested. Volunteer Committee
• Prepare and submit annual ﬁlings for state (VA- This committee is responsible for actively soliciting
500) and federal agencies (IRS Form 990). volunteers, answering the WRL administrative line and
• Prepare and submit annual CFC application. either responding to calls or redirecting them to the
• Prepare donation letters for contributions greater appropriate WRL board or committee member and
than $250.00. organizing one or more events annually to promote
• Perform other ﬁnancial functions as needed; e.g., collegiality and thank volunteers for all their work
dealing with banks, credit card companies, etc.
• Service the WRL post ofﬁce box at least weekly. Rehabilitator Education
This committee is responsible for organizing and
setting up classes for rehabilitator education, which
includes including ﬁnding instructors, class locations,
advertising classes, issuing certiﬁcates, and keeping
track of enrollment.
Correction: Information on Treating Mangy Foxes
Information of importance was not included in an article on treating mangy foxes that appeared in the
Spring 2005 issue of Rescue Report. The article incorrectly stated that any animal accidentally ingest-
ing Ivermectin, the medication used in treating mange, would not be harmed. In fact, shelties and other
herding dogs are allergic to it and severe problems can result if they ingest Ivermectin.. An overdose of
any drug is harmful to all animals, and birds, because of their smaller size relative to foxes, could also
be harmed. When treating mangy foxes, it is important to monitor the animal and treatment area care-
fully to ensure that the fox needing the medication actually receives it.
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 7
— Swifts...Continued from page 1
Their insect eating provides a great beneﬁt to the natu- and unmated older birds. Sometimes more than one
ral environment and its inhabitants. Swifts are most pair will nest in one chimney or site location. Baby
visible at dawn and dusk, and are sometimes confused swifts are frantic and demanding feeders as their insect
with bats or even swallows. For water, they dive down eater metabolism warrants. Swifts must develop all
to streams and ponds, skimming the surface with their feathering and appropriate weight and muscle strength
lower jaw and snapping up a drink. before leaving the nesting site in order to survive their
Unlike most other birds, swifts do not perch upright ﬁrst ﬂight and feed on their own insects through the air.
or stand, but cling vertically with the aid of their stubby The parents feed regurgitated insects to the begging
legs, sharp clawed feet, and bristled (rather than full babies as they hover near them midair in the chimney
feathered) tail. They can rest on the bark of a tree, a shaft.
brick wall, or any textured slanting or vertical surface. Swift babies hatch as tiny, dime sized naked and
In this way, they can climb up and down the inside helpless creatures. Their growth and development rate
walls of hollow trees and their adapted chimney homes is, however, quite fast and impressive. During the ﬁrst
of rough masonry and brick. week of life, pin feathers begin to emerge from their
wings, head and body. They become more active and
The challenge of nesting and migration animated by the end of the second week venturing
Chimney swifts create an intricate nest of tiny little claws onto the chimney wall and vocalizing. The
twigs snapped from the tips of tree branches by adher- third week brings them ﬁrst sight as their eyes open,
ing them together with their saliva. During breeding and they are mostly feathered. They also begin to cling
season, this sticky compound enables the swifts to exclusively to the vertical wall, having outgrown the
structure and adhere their nests to the vertical surface nest., and to scurry around inside the chimney using
of their nesting site. Typically the female lays four or their toenails to tightly grip the surface. Young swifts
ﬁve eggs, one each day. She and her mate take turns begin to exercise by ﬂying inside the nesting shaft dur-
incubating the eggs in the fragile nest, only about three ing the fourth week, which also completes their feather
(3) inches in width. After more than two weeks, the ba- development. They are constantly fed by their parents
bies begin to hatch, and the parents’ real work begins. this entire time since they cannot go out to feed on
Generally, chimney swifts are quite self sufﬁcient their own yet. The ﬁrst ﬂight from atop the chimney is
and successful brood raisers. Often a mated pair will indeed a daunting right of passage.
have helpers roosting with them that assist in feeding Chimney swifts are true migrating birds, wintering
the young babies. These helpers may be ﬁrst year birds in Peru. They arrive in Northern Virginia in April and
depart for the arduous journey back by October. They
travel in large ﬂocks and communally roost along the
way seven to nine thousand birds have been docu-
mented in one location. Often they appear as a massive
black cloud in the sky and spiral down into the chim-
ney as darkness settles.
Difﬁculties they encounter
Adult swifts rarely come into harms way and need
rehabilitation. Occasionally one will be hit by a vehicle
because swifts ﬂy around street lights and through road
intersections at dawn and dusk taking advantage of
8 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
of insect swarms around the lights. . The need for rehabilitation
The most common problems are either the nest Many fallen chimney swift babies can be returned
falling from the chimney wall before the babies have to the chimney for continued care by their parents;
ventured out, or the young swifts loosing their grip however, an experienced, license rehabilitator should
on the wall and tumbling downward. While nature’s always make the ﬁnal determination. Returning a swift
intended home for swifts provided a textured and rela- to the chimney requires that it be able to cling and
tively soft and safe environment, their adapted homes thrive in the parent’s care. This depends upon the age
do not. A rotten tree shaft would contain the fallen of the baby, how long it has been down, injuries it may
baby at the bottom and do little physical damage upon have received through falling, and its strength prior to
impact. The baby would then climb back to the nesting the fall.
area. A concrete and masonry chimney is much harsher Chimney swift babies fall for a variety of reasons.
and unforgiving. A fallen baby can be injured and thus Often they simply loose their grip as they are learning
uninterested in begging for food. Additionally, babies to crawl about. Occasionally the masonry wall is not
can be trapped behind the ﬁreplace ﬂue if it is open or textured well enough for a ﬁrm grasp or may be crum-
ajar, or they can fall into the ﬁreplace itself if the ﬂue is bling from age. Heavy rain can compromise the nest
not closed tight. and cause it to detach from the wall. Inclement
Most people ﬁrst notice they have something in their weather can affect the parent’s ability to obtain suf-
ﬁcient food for the youngsters. While adult swifts can
easily zip though rain ﬁlled skies, the insects they need
to feed upon do not, and baby swifts may be weakened
from the lack of sustenance. The prevalence of fallen
swifts on rainy days is a result of their weakened state
and inability to remain ﬁrmly clinging to the safety of
the chimney wall.
Chimney swift parents are dedicated and enduring,
and will ﬂy to the baby at the bottom of the chimney
to continue to feed it. They have been documented
ﬂying into the ﬁreplace to feed. Unfortunately, they
chimney when a baby falls into the ﬁreplace or when sometimes cannot return up the chimney through the
they hear the swifts’ vocalizations. Chimney swifts gap in the ﬂue and end up trapped in the ﬁreplace or
chatter instead of chirping, and the babies sound off even loose in the home. People need only open avail-
in unison when parents enter the chimney to feed. able doors for the adult swift, and they easily ﬁnd the
They also make an unusual distress call which sounds lighted way out. Closing curtains and doors to open
more metallic than animal, like a door hinge creaking rooms assists in the process.
repeatedly. Since the birds are federally protected, they
cannot be removed from the chimney nesting site by Conclusion
either home owners or chimney sweep services. Most Some studies reveal a decline in chimney swift
reputable chimney services are aware of and abide by numbers, and this is certainly a grave concern. De-
the law. Baby swifts falling into the ﬁreplace is another creasing populations of such beneﬁcial insect-eating
matter. In no circumstance should a ﬁre be built and birds is a threat to the balance of the natural environ-
lit to deter swift or mammal activity. Baby birds and ment. So remember, if you hear something in your
mammals cannot ﬂee the area and are suffocated and chimney and it turns out to be chimney swifts, they are
supposed to be there.
burned. Adult animals and birds can suffer similarly.
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 9
Mark Your Calendar Now (703) 256-8035
SPEAKER – Leslies Sturges, Director of Bat World NOVA
June 4, 2005 – Saturday - www.batworld.org/batworld_centers/nova.html.
Bat World NOVA was established in 2001 to promote the
Membership Meeting – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Open to conservation and protection of the region’s bats and to
Public) introduce the wonderful world of bats to the area’s children.
Located in Annandale, Virginia, Bat World NOVA promotes
Mason District Government Center bat conservation in the ever-growing Washington Metro-
6507 Columbia Pike politan area.
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 256-8035 CEU Credits: 2
SPEAKER: Kent Knowles, President of The Raptor
Conservancy of Virginia – www.raptorsva.org a non-proﬁt September 17, 2005 – Saturday
volunteer organization dedicated to; rehabilitation and
release to the wild of injured, ill or orphaned native Virginia Bat Fest – 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
birds of prey . . . (raptors); education of the public about
raptors and preservation of their habitat; and endeavoring to Hidden Oaks Nature Center
increase the wild population of endangered and threatened 7701 Royce Street
raptors. Annandale, VA 22003
CEU Credits: 2
December 3, 2005 – Saturday
July 2005 – Entire Month
Membership Meeting – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Open to
WTOP’s Charity of the Month Public)
www.wtop.com Mason District Government Center
6507 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
August 6, 2005 – Saturday (703) 256-8035
Bat Fest Arlington – 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Gulf Branch Nature Center
3608 N. Military Road
Arlington, VA 22207 Support the WRL!
August 20, 2005 – Saturday
Bat Fest – 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Cub Run RECenter Center
4630 Stonecroft Blvd.
Chantilly, VA 20151
September 10, 2005 – Saturday
Membership Meeting – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Open to
Mason District Government Center
6507 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003 www.cafepress.com/wrlprem
10 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
Rabies Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
by Paula L. Rothman
Rabies is a very serious viral infection of the brain that is transmitted through the saliva of
infected animals. Since there is no cure once the symptoms manifest themselves, it is vital for
wildlife rehabilitators and others who handle certain mammal species to receive a course of pre-
exposure rabies vaccine followed at two years by a blood test and, if necessary, a booster shot.
Mammals especially at risk for rabies are bats, raccoons and skunks. Small rodents, e.g., squir-
rels, chipmunks, rats and mice, and lagomorphs, e.g., rabbits and hares, are almost never infect-
ed with rabies and are not known to transmit it. Wildlife is the most common potential source of
infection for both humans and domestic animals in the United States. Overseas, the most com-
mon carriers of rabies are unvaccinated dogs.
Vaccine Supply and Administration
Three doses of pre-exposure rabies vaccine over a three week period are required to protect
against rabies. The antibody develops in approximately 7-10 days and persists for about two
years, at which time a booster may be needed. Once initiated, the three-shot series cannot be
interrupted. The question is where to get the shots as it is not available everywhere. There are
1. Your primary caregiver. The cost from a primary caregiver is generally higher than other
possibilities because your caregiver must buy an entire bottle of vaccine even though some will be
2. Kaiser may give the shots at the discretion of your primary physician, if you are a member
of that health group. Be sure to specify that the immunizations be classiﬁed as preventative vac-
cinations so that your insurance may cover them.
3. Your local or state health department. This is usually the best and most inexpensive option.
Both the Fairfax and Arlington County Health Departments have the vaccine.
If none of these options is available in your area, consider teaming with other regional rehabili-
tators and wildlife volunteers to set up a vaccine program. To do so, you will need a volunteer
physician to order the vaccine and oversee the program and a volunteer nurse to administer the
vaccine. You must also ﬁnd a facility where it can be given - perhaps a veterinarian’s ofﬁce.
If you are exposed to rabies after receiving the pre-exposure shots, post-exposure vaccine is still
necessary but with a reduced treatment regimen.
The most common side effects of the vaccine are: swelling, redness, itching, or pain at the
injection site. Booster shots may result in the same side effects. No life threatening reaction has
ever been recorded. (Pasteus Merieux, 1991). Those receiving pre-exposure vaccine must be
healthy on the days the vaccine is given (no cold, fever, etc.), not pregnant, and not allergic to
bovine serum, polymyxin, neomycin or mercury
To repeat, there is no treatment for rabies once the symptoms appear. Fortunately, in the last
few decades rabies in the US has been rare. An estimated 18,000 people receive the pre-exposure
prophylaxis and an additional 40,000 receive the post-exposure shots annually.
1. Center for Disease Control. Human Rabies Prevention - United States, 1999. Recommendations of the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). January 8, 1999. (www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/
2. CDC. Rabies: Prevention & Control, (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/prevention&control/preventi.htm)
3. Balliet, Jo. Unfolding the mysteries of pre-exposure rabies vaccine. Adapted from a report by the Wounded
Knee Wildlife Refuge, Inc., Tabernacle, NJ.
4. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Rabies Preexposure Prophylaxis. (www.avma.org/
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 11
— Apprentce Rehabber Continued from page 3
Clean up is easy if you already have a fresh “nest” ready – feed ‘em and pop ‘em in the new nest. They
all snuggle back down to sleep on their heating pad.
Fledglings are a little crazier. They are on perches in a cage, and fuss about who gets fed ﬁrst. There
is often a hierarchy that you need to respect, or the top bird will get cranky. And the top bird does get
the top perch. Fledge robins are funny. They get silly and raucous in the evening, the equivalent of a
fraternity party, except these guys celebrate by tossing meal worms and blueberries out of their cage.
Usually I had
problems later. This sort of situation is always depressing because euthanasia is usually the only an-
swer. Euthanasia is something that rehabilitators must accept. If an animal can’t be released back into
the wild with a good chance of surviving, by law it must be euthanized, unless it can be transferred to
someone with an educational permit, which is very difﬁcult to get.
I slowly started accumulating cages, many which were given to me by other rehabbers, along with
dishes, feeding implements and other paraphernalia. As time moved on, I developed my own prefer-
ences for certain types of dishes and cages. Each rehabilitator works with what is most comfortable for
him/her. My biggest problem was that I didn’t have a release cage. So I built one.
I looked at other peoples’ cages and decided what
I wanted. It was interesting, but a lot of work. Re-
habbers often have someone, such as a boy scout
working on a merit badge, build a cage for them.
I learned a lot that ﬁrst summer of rehabbing
including how to be more efﬁcient with my feed-
ing and cleaning. The winter was a time of relax-
ation and learning through rehabilitation education
classes. In all, I worked with about 90 birds.
12 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
The next spring started with house ﬁnches and doves. Baby doves are fed differently, so I learned a
new technique, and I rehabbed birds with mites and ﬂy eggs, so I learned to clean them. I also got a
baby cardinal with splayed legs, which led me to establish a relationship with a vet who specialized
in birds. We weren’t able to save the little guy – he had too many other things wrong with him – but
ﬁnding a vet is necessary for moving up to a Category II license. Other rehabbers will help you ﬁnd a
vet for your type of animal. My second year as an apprentice was much busier with about 190 birds
coming in for care.
Funny situations are common in the life of an apprentice or rehabber. I received a bird from one of the
shelters, thinking it was a chipping sparrow, a species I had not previously rehabbed. It kept getting
bigger and bigger. Finally, I took it to Nora who laughed and held it up to the light. It was a blue bird!
Another time, someone brought me a “mockingbird”. He was the tiniest and most ﬂuttery thing I had
ever seen. In talking it over with Nora, she decided
it must be a blue-gray gnatcatcher. I took him right
over to her, because I am uncomfortable with tiny
birds. It’s important to know your limitations.
Heartwarming and heartbreaking situations are also
common. In early winter, I received an adult male
cardinal with abrasions and a wing that stuck out
funny. After a thorough examination by experienced
rehabbers, they decided his wing had an old break that
had healed, fusing the bone so he might not be able
ﬂy. What to do about him? If he couldn’t be released,
he had to be euthanized or placed somewhere. We voted for trying to place him, but the closest place
was in South Carolina. He was so healthy otherwise that we decided I should put him in a large cage to
allow him to strengthen his ﬂying muscles. I also massaged and stretched the wing periodically. Ulti-
mately, I noticed he seemed to ﬂutter in mid-air in his cage. Following Nora’s advice, I took him out of
the cage to see if he could ﬂy. He could scutter along the ﬂoor, but couldn’t gain height. I then put him
in my release cage with the hope that he could strengthen the muscles more. With great trepidation, I
prepared to release him January 1, 2005. As I stood back, that little guy came zooming out of the cage,
took a hard right, rising in height all the time. Finally up at ten feet he disappeared into the bamboo. I
was in shock – there is no better feeling than having what appeared to be a lost cause, prove you wrong
and ﬂy away to freedom. What a way to start the New Year.
— Life of Jan Comstock Continued from page 5
Jan Comstock’s TOP TEN reasons she loves rehabilitating birds:
10) She is living-out a lifelong love of birds and helping them in a tangible way;
9) She’s enjoying meeting so many delightful and giving members of the public that bring her sick, injured
and orphaned birds;
8) She believes she is making a worthwhile contribution to our area;
7) She is satisfying that part of a woman’s drive to help and to volunteer;
6) She loves the great network of WRL volunteers, especially other rehabbers, with whom she shares advice
5) She loves that it is such “a family affair” and that her husband and children show much interest and lend
4) There’s nothing greater than watching a baby bird develop to independence;
3) The thrill that comes when a bird is released into its natural habitat;
2) Being able to enjoy Nora Missell’s chocolate éclairs at the WRL quarterly membership meetings;
And, the Number 1, “REALLY TRULY: reason: “Taking care of baby birds is a circus and it makes me laugh a
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 13
WRL Leadership Directory
Dawn Davis .............................................. (703) 966-3474...................................email@example.com
Steven Nunes............................................ (301) 513-5745.............. firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Quarles ........................................... (703) 536-9156....................... LQuarles@compuserve.com
Sarah Ball ................................................. (202) 508-5208........................................... email@example.com
Pat Chamberlain ........................................ (804) 443-5599.................................. firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula Frechen ........................................... (703) 824-8042............................. email@example.com
Sarah Frye ................................................ (703) 587-9168..............................................................
Jennifer Noonan ........................................ (703) 594-2190............................firstname.lastname@example.org
Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............ email@example.com
Rehabilitator Emergency Relief Fund (Babiga Fund)
Pat Chamberlain ........................................ (804) 443-5599.................................. firstname.lastname@example.org
Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............ email@example.com
Fundraising (Chair — Vacant)
Coordinator — Vacant
Scheduler — Linda Buie .............................. (301) 599-8788...................................... BuieVA@aol.com
Data Manager — Doug Brown ...................... (703) 981-2142................................... firstname.lastname@example.org
Transport Coordinator — Jessica Arwine ........ (202) 277-5554............................. email@example.com
Chair — Kathy Wilson ................................. (703) 750-1799............................ firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair — Dawn M. Davis .............................. (703) 966-3474...................................email@example.com
Chair — Susan Lilly .................................... (703) 481-9479.................. firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Relations (Chair — Vacant)
Chair — Pat Chamberlain ..................................................................................... email@example.com
Supplies — Charlene DeVol ......................... (703) 916-0170............................. firstname.lastname@example.org
Medicine — Erika Yery ................................ (703) 549-4987............ email@example.com
Mealworms — Yvonne Young ....................... (703) 273-3138................................ firstname.lastname@example.org
Fur and Fabric — Jen Connors ..................... (703) 250-6346........................... email@example.com
Supplies — Vacant
Nora Missell .............................................. (703) 280-5464
Amo Merritt .............................................. (540) 987-8431..................................... firstname.lastname@example.org
Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............ email@example.com
Chair — Vacant
Veterinary Advisor — Dr. Anne Hiss .............. (703) 281-1644....................................... firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Coordinator - Vacant
Allison Pang .............................................. (703) 815-8965.......... email@example.com
Editor — Linda Jasper ................................. (703) 448-6981..................................... LndJasp@aol.com
Layout—Allison Pang .................................. (703) 815-8965.......... firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Writer — Holly Ross Haynes ................. (703) 369-1082...................... email@example.com
Distribution — Jennifer Lagasca ..................................................................... firstname.lastname@example.org
Rescue Support Newsletter - Vacant
Cathy Epatko ............................................ (703) 437-3286
14 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report
“I want to be a WRL Member and help save
Virginia’s native wildlife.”
Please check the animal you wish to sponsor:
❏ Box Turtle ❏ Groundhog ❏ Eastern Bluebird ❏ Cottontail
Membership beneﬁts include:
■ Rescue Report ■ Volunteer opportunities ■ Meetings and workshops ■ Much more!
Call (703) 391-8625; e-mail email@example.com or mail this form along with
your check to: Wildlife Rescue League, P.O. 704, Falls Church, VA 22040 or sign up online at
City: _____________________________________________ State: _________ Zip:_______________
Phone: ___________________________E-mail: ___________________________________________
Individual (1-yr) – $25 Family (1-yr) – $35 Organization (1-yr) – $35 Rehabber – $0*
Individual (2-yr) – $40 Family (2-yr) – $60 Organization (2-yr) – $60 Rehabber Family – $0*
Donor Member – $50 or more
I also have enclosed an additional donation in the amount of: $ ________________
I do not wish to join, but I have enclosed a donation in the amount of: $ ________________
Please do not use this form to renew current membership. ** With proof of current permit.
Rescue Report i Summer 2005 15
Summer Membership About WRL
The Wildlife Rescue League is a non-profit
Meeting organization providing care for sick, injured and
orphaned wildlife in order to return them to the
wild. Our licensed rehabilitators in Virginia and Mary-
land work with animal shelters, humane societies,
wildlife groups, nature centers and veterinary hospitals
to provide care to creatures in need.
WRL operates a wildlife hotline in the Northern
Virginia and surrounding areas to assist the public
in obtaining information and assistance in locating a
Saturday, June 4, 2005 WRL is committed to educating the public about
the natural history of native wildlife, co-existing with
11:00 am - 1:00 pm it and preventing the need for wildlife rehabilitation.
We provide brochures, educational materials and edu-
Speaker: Kent Knowles, President of cational programs to suit individual needs.
The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia WRL welcomes all who support the preserva-
tion of wildlife as volunteers and/or members. For
more information about WRL, volunteer oppor-
tunities, or to arrange for a program, e-mail us at
Mason District Government Center firstname.lastname@example.org, call (703) 391-8625, or
6507 Columbia Pike Annandale, VA visit www.wildliferescueleague.org.
Wildlife Rescue League U.S. Postage Paid
P.O. Box 704 Merriﬁeld, VA
Falls Church, VA 22040 Permit #2461
Address Service Requested
This earth-friendly publication is printed on recycled paper using soy ink.
16 Summer 2005 i Rescue Report