Chimney Swifts by dfgh4bnmu


									Newsletter of the Wildlife Rescue League                                                                Summer 2005, Vol. 23, No.2

                                                                 Chimney Swifts:
                                                                 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.”
                                                                                                       Andrew Carnegie,
                                                                       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:                           Alive! presented a wonderful program that included a few
        Web:                              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. .
                         Linda Jasper
                            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
                                                                       financial support.
                      Jennifer Lagasca                                 This year for the first time WRL will participate in the Booz
                                                                       Allen Classic – 2005 Birdies for Charity (http://birdies.
                          President                           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
                        Steven Nunes
                                                                       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
of WRL.
                                                                       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 Send                  President
scanned/digital images to
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.
and      adults.
                                                                                         Nora started
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
the members.
                                                        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

Ordinary Income/Expense

   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                                           -
                                                                  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 – 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
                                                                  (703) 941-1065
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)                                                      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.
                                                                  Holiday Party
Gulf Branch Nature Center
3608 N. Military Road
Arlington, VA 22207                                                      Support the WRL!
(703) 228-3403

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                                      
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
three possibilities:
   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
thrown away.
   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.
Negative Reactions
   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. (
2. CDC. Rabies: Prevention & Control, (
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. (

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.

                                                                                            Other birds
                                                                                            I worked
                                                                                            with that
                                                                                            first summer
                                                                                            included blue
                                                                                            jays, mock-
                                                                                            and starlings.
                                                                                            Usually I had
                                                                                            only healthy
                                                                                            birds, but
                                                                                            a healthy-
                                                                                            seeming baby
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
 and assistance;
 5) She loves that it is such “a family affair” and that her husband and children show much interest and lend
 their support;
 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)
 Vice President
 Steven Nunes............................................ (301) 513-5745..............
 Laurie Quarles ........................................... (703) 536-9156.......................
 Sarah Ball ................................................. (202) 508-5208...........................................
 Board Members-at-Large
 Pat Chamberlain ........................................ (804) 443-5599..................................
 Paula Frechen ........................................... (703) 824-8042.............................
 Sarah Frye ................................................ (703) 587-9168..............................................................
 Jennifer Noonan ........................................ (703)
 Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............
 Rehabilitator Emergency Relief Fund (Babiga Fund)
 Pat Chamberlain ........................................ (804) 443-5599..................................
 Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............
 Fundraising (Chair — Vacant)
 Hotline Committee
 Coordinator — Vacant
 Scheduler — Linda Buie .............................. (301) 599-8788......................................
 Data Manager — Doug Brown ...................... (703) 981-2142...................................
 Transport Coordinator — Jessica Arwine ........ (202) 277-5554.............................
 Information Services
 Chair — Kathy Wilson ................................. (703) 750-1799............................
 Chair — Dawn M. Davis .............................. (703)
 Public Education
 Chair — Susan Lilly .................................... (703) 481-9479..................
 Public Relations (Chair — Vacant)
 Rehabilitator Support
 Chair — Pat Chamberlain .....................................................................................
 Supplies — Charlene DeVol ......................... (703) 916-0170.............................
 Medicine — Erika Yery ................................ (703) 549-4987............
 Mealworms — Yvonne Young ....................... (703) 273-3138................................
 Caging —Vacant
 Fur and Fabric — Jen Connors ..................... (703) 250-6346...........................
 Supplies — Vacant
 Supply Depots
 Nora Missell .............................................. (703) 280-5464
 Amo Merritt .............................................. (540) 987-8431.....................................
 Erika Yery ................................................. (703) 549-4987............
 Rehabilitator Education
 Chair — Vacant
 Veterinary Advisor — Dr. Anne Hiss .............. (703) 281-1644.......................................
 Volunteer Coordinator - Vacant
 Allison Pang .............................................. (703) 815-8965..........
 Rescue Report
 Editor — Linda Jasper ................................. (703) 448-6981.....................................
 Layout—Allison Pang .................................. (703) 815-8965..........
 Staff Writer — Holly Ross Haynes ................. (703) 369-1082......................
 Distribution — Jennifer Lagasca .....................................................................
 Rescue Support Newsletter - Vacant
 Information Mail-Outs
 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 or mail this form along with
            your check to: Wildlife Rescue League, P.O. 704, Falls Church, VA 22040 or sign up online at

     Name: _____________________________________________________________________________

     Address: ___________________________________________________________________________

     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
                                                                     wildlife rehabilitator.
         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                      , call (703) 391-8625, or
     6507 Columbia Pike Annandale, VA                                visit

                                                                                                         Nonprofit 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

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