Storms bring more animals to wildlife center

By on July 9, 2010

Additional funding, volunteers, supplies currently needed
by Tammy Swanson
ELBURN—Have you ever wondered who helps the baby raccoons whose mother was run over by a car, the infant opossums trapped in a window well or the ducklings searching for their mother? These wild animals are given a second chance at life by the Fox Valley Wildlife Center (FVWC) in the Elburn Woods Forest Preserve.

Recently, the center has been inundated with baby birds because of the heavy rain in June. The birds include robins, cedar wax wings, sparrows, morning doves and starlings. Especially hard-hit have been mallards; the center has cared for 170 ducklings this summer.

“This year, because of all the storms, we do have lots of tiny baby birds because of the high winds,” said Andrea Krueger, FVWC vice president. “We have a huge (number) of mallards here. With the bad weather, the baby birds get separated from the mom.”

In addition to storms, another type of event brings baby mallards to the center in the summer—fireworks.

“On the Fourth of July with the fireworks on the river, the mom is there with her babies,” Krueger said. “She’ll fly away often and the babies are left there. She’ll come back, but maybe she won’t be able to find the babies. It’s a very sad thing.”

Once the baby birds are at the center, they need constant feeding. Some babies need to be fed water and formula with a syringe as often as every 10 minutes to keep them alive.

The center’s goal is to raise the babies until they are able to be released into the wild.

“(With) the birds, we do a gentle release. When they are able to fly and find their own food, we just open the door and they leave when they are comfortable,” Krueger said.

The center also must make sure that mallard ducklings have sufficient waterproofing before the center releases them into a river, which takes time.

“That could go into late summer or fall before they are all waterproof,” Krueger said. “Waterfowl have a gland at the base of their tail that secretes oil. You’ll see them rubbing their neck up against their glands and they rub it all around their whole body and that waterproofs them.”

Since opening its doors in 2001, the FVWC has helped heal and release thousands of animals back into the wild. The nonprofit organization relies entirely on fundraisers, donations, memberships and grants to cover the cost of its services.
FVWC is in great need of more funding this year because of so many animals in need.

“We do get a lot of donations, but we still have a lot of expenses,” Krueger said. “We were at Swedish Days (in Geneva) and we were expecting to do really good, and we didn’t, so we are in dire need now.”

For just one raccoon, the cost to rehabilitate it is $50. The center feeds the raccoon formula for five weeks, and vaccinates it against rabies, distemper and parvovirus. The animal stays at the center three to four months. For one duckling, the cost for care is $30. Each duckling is fed greens and waterfowl chow, and also stays at the center three to four months. To care for a fawn for three months costs about $40.

Aside from monetary donations, the center always needs more animal food and supplies. Its wish list includes fresh produce such as spinach, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. The center can also use live bugs like meal worms and wax worms, and welcomes donations of office supplies, medical supplies, blankets, pet dishes and household goods.

In addition, volunteers for a variety of tasks are always in great demand.

“They can do animal handling. They can do laundry, dishes, preparing food and taking care of the educational animals,” said Krueger.

For more information about making donations, volunteering, membership or helping wild animals and birds, please contact the FVWC at Elburn Woods Forest Preserve, 45W061 Route 38, Elburn, IL 60119, (630) 365-3800 or www.FoxValleyWildlife.org.

Benefit Night
Zanies Comedy Club
at Pheasant Run Resort
in St. Charles

Thursday, Aug. 5.
8 p.m.
Comedy Central performer
Butch Bradley

Tickets cost $25 per person
and 100 percent of the ticket sales will benefit the
Fox Valley Wildlife Center

Photo: Fox Valley Wildlife Center volunteer Mike Beck feeds a rescued bird at the Elburn facility. Photo by Tammy Swanson