For Molate, L1, and others…ways to make their lives mean something

16 July 2022

The very moment that ‘B’ wrote to tell me about Molate, I had just learned how L1 had been killed at Cornell. Each of their lives – Molate and L1 – are examples of how we need to improve our relationship with our beloved feather friends. Their lives should mean something. I want to also include Little Bit ND17 as well.

Molate fell out of the Whirley Crane nest, Richmond Shipping Yards, San Francisco at 13:46 on the 16th of July 2022 and died immediately.
Little Bit ND17 fell out of the nest at the County Park, South Bend, Indiana. Little Bit is currently in care at Humane Indiana Wildlife, Valpo, Indiana.
Victor fell out of his nest at Fraser Point, Channel Islands. Victor is currently in care at the Ojai Raptor Centre in Ojai, California.

There were several emergencies with birds on streaming cams last year. One of the most pressing was the osplet falling off the Patuxent River Park nest. Everyone watching could hear the splash as it hit the water. Those persons went into panic mode. Who do they call? The Patuxent River Park has an office and a phone line that is operational during normal business hours. This was after hours. They had an answering machine. Messages were left but viewers had no way to know if anyone knew about the osplet and time was of the essence. Many called USFWS – including myself in Canada and my friend ‘S’ in Hawaii. USFWS did nothing. The young man knew what had happened. He had over 30 calls he said. What saved the osplet was a Patuxent River Park employee who checked the messages, rushed with her partner back to the park with her canoe, and rescued the osplet. It was fantastic. She said that the osplet was lucky because the tide had not started coming in yet.

The situation: A bird on a streaming cam falls out of the nest. There is no phone number under the streaming cam image to call. It is the weekend. The need for help is immediate.

The solution: Every organization that has a streaming cam needs to post an emergency number for the day time and for after hours. They need to have someone answering those phones. To keep from receiving 350 or 500 phone calls, they could then record a message to callers that says they are aware of the situation and they are organizing help. It really is that simple!

If you are part of an organization that has a streaming cam or you know someone who is, discuss this with them. In the end it helps everyone. The wildlife gets help much faster which could save its life and viewers do not get so stressed and there is a feeling of good will towards those who operate/sponsor the cameras of the birds.

‘B’ has told me of an app for phones that you can get that will also get you to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation clinic. It is called WildHelp. Please check it out.

L1 hit a glass breezeway between windows on the Cornell Campus on the 14 July 2022. She died immediately.

Each individual reading my blog is aware that birds fly into windows. We know various ways to try and protect birds from flying into the windows of our homes. We put up decals, stripes, fancy streamers. As consumers we can now purchase bird strike proof window film or even windows. My sunroom has birdstrike proof windows. What about the buildings in our cities? Some have created laws that new buildings must have birdstrike proof windows. That is fantastic.

L1 was the first chick to hatch this season for Big Red and Arthur at Cornell University. Cornell has had a streaming cam since 2012 so that we can enjoy Big Red and her family. Since the time that Big Red has been at Cornell, she has only not fledged one chick, K2, last year. She had a beak problem that could not be resolved. Big Red and her two mates, Ezra and Arthur, have taken great care and fledged healthy robust hawks. I could go back and dig and find my book to pull out all the data but, in 2020 and again this year, two of those fledglings have been killed by window strike on the Cornell Campus. K1 flew into the Weil Building. Today I learned that L1 flew into a high glass breezeway that connects two buildings at Cornell. Prior to this one flew into a glass bus stop that I remember. My point is this. These are human caused deaths. There is a solution. Cornell is a leader in the study of birds. They should be a leader in creating a safe environment for those birds. In the past, local citizens have taken it upon themselves to create safe bus stops so that no eyas flies into one again. So what about the buildings in the areas where the young hawks fly? The birders on the ground at Cornell know which windows are the most likely and they could be very valuable in finding ways to end the deaths by window strike.

In this instance, every institution where there are birds on streaming cams should endeavour to make their environment as safe as they can by installing bird friendly glass or putting coatings on the windows in areas where they know that the birds will be flying.

The last focuses on the situation with Little Bit ND17 who also fell out of a nest. In some ways, Little Bit, Victor, and Molate’s lives should drive a change in procedure. It is also interesting that in some ways this also ties in with the rescue intervention at Patuxent River Park.

The situation: A raptor falls out of the nest. They do not fly away to a safe place but, rather, they are under the nest.

The solution: There should be no wait time to get authorization to retrieve the raptor. They should be taken immediately to the closest wildlife rehabber for a thorough check. If there is nothing wrong, they should be returned to the nest immediately. The parents will accept them. We have seen parents accept the return of their chicks. Perhaps the most memorable, were the two eaglets E17 and E18 at the Southwest Florida eagle nest on the grounds of the Pritchett family. There should be no hesitation. Little Bit ND17 was near death from starvation when he was finally rescued. Make it standard protocol. Chick falls out of nest, the nearest wildlife rehabber is called to come and pick them up immediately. No hesitation. Have emergency permission at hand. Surely there is a way to do this after hours or at the weekends. Or there needs to be. I do recall Dr Sharpe saying with Victor that he had to get permission and it was difficult on the weekend. But, there should be a defined way to do this when the situation is urgent.

This has clearly been a year when so many raptors have fallen out of nests as well as others such as Jan and Janika’s smallest storkling. It does not take a long fall for them to fatally injure themselves. We saw it at Osoyoos. We have seen chicks pulled off the nest by nesting material – one dying and the other surviving – because of the quick action of passers getting them to care, one might live. The other died immediately.

I am pleading…this letter sounds that way because I am. I have gone from being furious – I could hardly write the update on Molate – to just being darn discouraged. Every summer there is the repeat for the need for emergency numbers. People are afraid that they will receive 1000s of calls about minor things from watchers. Someone could even sit screening the calls but there has to be a system to reach people in authority. They do not watch the cameras 24/7 and unless there are graduate students, it is only the viewing public who love the birds that do. Indeed, so many who watch bird cams are the first to notice that something is amiss with a bird.

Again, take the opportunity to talk to the companies and people who are sponsoring streaming bird cams if you know them. Have a real conversation about the life of the birds and how they can improve those lives and how they can help the birds when there is an immediate need. You have probably already thought of other ways that contacts could work – raise those. Thank you.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Very well said Mary Ann! It is time for this to be done indeed!
    Thank you for all you do !

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